Escoffier viewed stock with this quote:
“Stock is everything in cooking, at least in French cooking. Without it, nothing can be done. If one’s stock is good, what remains of the work is easy; if, on the other hand, it is bad or merely mediocre, it is quite hopeless to expect anything approaching a satisfactory result”
Going back to my catering school days, I found stock making boring and at the times, pointless. To me, it tasted and looked like a watery soup with nothing interesting to bite your teeth into. Of course, with more experience and knowledge, I realised that stocks are one of the most important basics to have in a restaurant kitchen, let alone in a domestic kitchen.
Making a really good nurtured stock transforms everything it is introduced to into delicious and heart-warming meals. Think of hearty soups, light consommé, casseroles, risottos, sauces and gravies, just to name a few. If your stock is lacking flavour, so will your meals.
Store-bought versus homemade stocks
Outside of the home, I have only ever seen freshly made stock sold at a few butchers. Fancy stores selling stock sell them at premium prices for very small quantities that would hardly fill a measuring cup. These liquid stocks are usually gluten-free, so if you only need a small amount and have the money, then I can see the logic in buying it.
Here are several stock recipes using different meat or seasonings that I use regularly in many of my gluten-free recipes.
To make either chicken or beef stocks, plan ahead at least 24 hours to let the stock develop in flavour and colour by simmering gently in either a slow cooker/crockpot or a sturdy, large stockpot on the stove.
It isn’t unheard of to have continuous stocks rolling on for weeks in some households or restaurants, especially when a superior stock is needed for consommé, noodle or dumpling soups. It’s entirely up to you how long you would like to slow cook your stock, but I recommend at least 24 hours.
The good news is that the preparation is easy and takes anything from 15 mins to 30 mins to prepare the bones, roughly chop the vegetables and sprinkle in a few peppercorns and fresh herbs.
This homemade vegetable paste is a fast method of making a stock base in under 45 minutes. The salt added preserves and flavours the cooked vegetable puree much like the method used in store-bought stock cubes, but without any nasty additives.
A large jar will last 6 months if you are an active cook and must be stored in the fridge.
Fish or Seafood Stock
Homemade fish or seafood stocks are much faster to make, only requiring a 20-minute simmer. If you are lucky enough to get fresh fish heads & bones (avoid oily fish) and seafood shells, then you’re guaranteed a delicious fish or seafood stock to make fish soups, risottos, fish pies, etc.
To make a basic fish or seafood stock, add the bones or shells to a pot of cold water and add the same vegetables, herbs and peppercorn as for the meat stocks, except leave out the vinegar. Bring the stock to a simmer and skim any scum from the top. Strain and refrigerate for one day or freeze for one month.
Homemade Asian Stock
Asian Stocks are either chicken, beef, pork or fish-based stocks that have the following vegetables and seasonings added to give that classic flavour:
- ½ a garlic head, whole
- 6cm ginger, unpeeled and cut in half
- 10 spring onions, whole, green part only
- 1 green chilli
- 1 bird’s eye red chilli (optional, makes it extra spicy!)
- 1-star anise, whole
- 10 peppercorns
- 1-litre water
Cook the stock for at least 24 hours and serve as a basis for Wonton dumpling soups, Singapore Chicken Rice or Congee. Add, Tamari or gluten-free soya sauce at the end of cooking the Asian stock.
Hold the salt until the end!
Whatever you do, ONLY add salt to all types of stock at the end of cooking.
Why do you add vinegar to stocks?
The vinegar helps extract the minerals from the bones plus the minerals including from the vegetables nourishing the stock into a healthy gut-friendly bone broth.
What types of vinegar should I use in stocks?
You can use white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar in chicken and beef stocks, however only use red wine vinegar in beef stock as it is stronger in flavour and darker in colour
Are there any health benefits in homemade stocks?
Well-made stocks can be served as bone broths, especially after 48 hours of slowly extracting all that goodness from bone, marrow and cartilage. This liquid gold has been hailed as one of the healthiest superfoods, helping many with aliments from bad digestion to flu symptoms. For this reason, chicken soup is often called “Penicillin soup” due to chicken also containing an amino acid called cysteine which thins any excess mucus in the lungs and helps in the healing process of many illnesses.
As you can see, I am passionate about making stocks, for the many advantages it offers in the kitchen and to your health. There is something cosy about making a good stock and the wonderful aroma coming from my slow cooker or pot really relaxes me, especially on a cold or rainy day. So, I hope you enjoy making these stock recipes, if you have never cooked homemade stocks, you’ll be hooked…and healthier for sure!!
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