Stock is an indispensable part of soups and sauces. Escoffier famously said, "Indeed, stock is everything in cooking... without it nothing can be done." I love making soups, especially in the winter, and I've been consistently frustrated by the high price (and poor quality) of the stocks and broths sold at the store. I recently started making my own stocks, and have found the process to be both simple and deeply satisfying.
Stock has also been touted as having wonderful nutritional benefits. Properly prepared stock contains minerals from the bone, cartilage, marrow, vegetables and herbs used, as well as gelatin (which aides digestion and can help with numerous intestinal disorders). In folk wisdom, chicken stock has been used to treat everything from the flu to asthma.
A few notes on the preparation:
- Most stock recipes contain prescribed amounts of animal parts, water, etc. While I'm sure these proportions are well-researched, I've found that simply water plus ingredients equals stock. I'm a fan of cooking the stock for a long time, so I feel confident that I'll end up with a flavorful result.
- It really is ok to simmer the stock, uncovered, for 24 hours. For a couple of years I worked at a fine dining restaurant. There was always large pots filled with stock on the stove in the back kitchen. When I'd leave my office late in the evening, the pots would be simmering away. They were left on the stove all night. As long as the stock is hot enough to simmer at a low boil, it is safe.
- It's important to use cold water. This allows the ingredients to warm slowly, and release more of their "juices" into the mix.
- The addition of vinegar helps to draw minerals (like calcium, magnesium, and potassium) into the broth. You can't taste the vinegar in the final product.
- You'll notice that there's no salt in this recipe. I love this, because it gives me so much more control when cooking to add or omit salt as appropriate. Just be aware that if you're using your stock in a recipe that calls for commercial chicken broth, you'll likely need to add salt to taste.
- The herbs (except the parsley) are typically put in some sort of bag (called a "sachet") like a cheesecloth pouch tied with a string. I have some empty tea bags that I like to use. If you're in a bind feel free to just add loose herbs to the stock, but understand that they will float to the surface and could be accidentally removed with the skimming.
- Speaking of skimming, be sure not to skip this part. Impurities will rise to the surface, and will result in off-flavored stock if they're not skimmed away.
- Some recipes call for cooking the stock with the lid on, but leaving the lid off creates richer, more concentrated stock.
- Beef stocks generally begin with roasting the bones and vegetables, but this step is optional with poultry stocks. Non-roasted bones yield a "white stock" which is good for lighter soups and sauces. The "brown stock" made from roasting the bones and vegetables has a richer flavor. I prefer brown stock.
Ok... let's get cooking! This recipe has been adapted from "Nourishing Traditions" by Sally Fallon.
Turkey bones, fat, skin, neck, gizzard, etc. (do not use the liver)
One large onion, coarsely chopped
2-3 carrots, coarsely chopped
3 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
Fresh thyme sprigs (optional)
2 bay leaves (optional)
White vinegar - 2 Tblsp. for every gallon of cold water
1 bunch parsley
- Spread turkey parts and vegetables on cookie sheets and roast in the oven at 375 degrees, until turkey has browned (optional).
- Secure thyme and bay leaves in a sachet. Place turkey parts, vegetables, and herb sachet in a large stainless steel pot. Fill with cold water almost to the top, then add vinegar (2 Tblsp. for each gallon of cold water). Let stand for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
- Cover, bring stock to a boil, then skim off the scum that rises to the top.
- Reduce heat to a low simmer and cook, uncovered, for 6 to 24 hours. About 10 minutes before finishing the stock, add the parsley.
- Strain stock into a large bowl or pot.
- Refrigerate (or set outside on a cold night) until the fat rises to the top and congeals. Skim off the fat and reserve for cooking.
- Stock can be portioned into pint or quart containers or bags and frozen. Stock will keep in the freezer for several months.
For additional information about the health benefits of stock, visit the Weston Price Foundation website.