Stock Making

One of the best tips I ever got, as far as cooking goes, was to save the portions of vegetables that I would normally throw away and use them later to make stock. And like all great pieces of advice, I ignored it… until recently. Now that I’ve done it a few times, I’m hooked.

Our “stock bowl” (the bowl that holds the leftovers from vegetables that we’ve used) is now a permanent fixture in our fridge.

Stocks are a great way to add flavor to any dish, and of course they can be used to make killer soups in the colder months.

It’s not just for soup anymore

Stocks can be used to make really killer soups, but that’s not their only use. Stock + flour = gravy. Reduce some beef stock, red wine and finish with butter: red wine sauce for your steak.

You can use stock to braise meats, as a brine for turkey, inject them into chicken to add flavor and yeah, use them to make amazing soups and stews. Plus, making your own stock will save you a couple of bucks and you’ll know exactly what’s in it.

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a chicken pho that I made with some home-made vegetable stock

The Perfect Stock

Ingredients

  • about 1-1 1/2 lbs of left-over vegetable parts (the ends you usually would throw out)
    • Onions, Leeks, Tomatoes, Asparagus, Peppers, Potatoes, Mushrooms, etc
  • protein scraps (optional)
    • the leftovers from a steak dinner or a rotisserie chicken carcass are great here
  • 2-3 quarts of water
  • Salt and Pepper to taste (and whatever other seasonings you want to use)

Equipment

  • A large stock pot – I really recommend a stockpot with a colander insert to make straining easier
  • A container to store the stock in when you are done

Directions

Give the vegetables a decent rinse under cold water to get any dirt and grit off of them. Then add the vegetables to your stock pot and fill it with the water. Bring the water to a boil and let the water boil for 30-40 minutes. Once the stock is done, remove the vegetables and season the stock to taste.

I usually add sugar, salt and pepper, stirring and tasting after each ingredient to make sure the stock is well balanced. Though don’t fret if you make it too salty or sweet you can correct this by adding more water or heat when you use the stock later.

That’s it. You are now that proud owner of an awesome vegetable/fish/beef/chicken stock. Store it, and use it throughout the week.

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