Photo credit: StockFood
If the words “heirloom tomato,” “heritage breed turkey,” or “local” anything are in your vocabulary, chances are you care a lot about the ingredients you bring home. So what are you doing using grocery store chicken stock? Or worse, those tiny cubes of salt-shocked bouillon?
"Canned stock, it tastes tinny almost," says Scott Drewno, executive chef of Wolfgang Puck’s The Source in Washington, D.C. “And to me the bouillon cubes taste kind of chemical. It’s kind of an uncomfortable flavor.”
Making your own broth involves a whole new level of flavor customization. That appeals to Drewno, who forgoes a standard chicken stock in favor of a “double stock,” which are two different stocks that he combines. The first is an Asian-inspired stock of ginger, green onions, celery, carrots, and chicken scraps. The second is made with roasted pork bones, pig head, pig feet, and whole chickens.
The whole process takes nine hours and produces five gallons of stock—which only last three days. “We’re just constantly going through it,” Drewno says. He uses it in everything from soups to marinades. “There’s always a stock on!”
But you don’t have to make a restaurant-sized portion, nor must you keep watch over a simmering pot for half a day. Just chuck your ingredients in the biggest pot you own, simmer the stuff for up to a few hours, and freeze it in smaller quantities. Simple as can be. Come meal time, you’ll be grateful to have it close at hand.
1. Beef Stock
Photo credit: Food52
A rich beef stock lends a more complex flavor to hearty vegetable soups and is a natural fit for meaty stews. We love this recipe from Food52 that includes beef marrow bones, tomato paste, thyme, and parsley.
Photo credit: Flickr/star5112
Don’t be afraid of dashi; it’s one of the easiest stocks out there, and is the go-to broth of Japanese cuisine. (If you’ve eaten miso soup, you’ve had dashi!) The only tricky part is making an extra stop at the local Asian market to procure kombu (a type of kelp) and bonito shavings (flakes of a dried, fermented fish). Once those are in your possession, you can make the stock in less than an hour. Just follow this recipe from Food & Wine.
3. Mushroom Stock
Photo credit: Flickr/ miss_yasmina
Drewno tells us he’s experimenting with a super-simple mushroom stock. There are only two steps: soak dried shiitake mushrooms overnight and strain the mixture in the morning. Voilà! You’ve got mushroom stock.
It makes for “a very intense, umami-laden stock,” Drewno says. He likes to use it in stir-fry dishes. But with a big pot of dried mushrooms, he only gets about a cup’s worth of stock. Don’t expect to have leftovers to freeze.
4. Seafood or Fish Stock
Photo credit: Flickr/avlxyz
Got some discarded shrimp heads laying around? Chuck those babies in a pot of boiling water and get your stock on. The same goes for leftover lobster shells, crab shells, crawfish shells, or any kind of fish bone. The resulting stock is great in soups and stews, or for plumping up a rich risotto or paella.
The Kitchn has a great recipe for shrimp stock, as does Emeril. For lobster, turn to Eric Ripert’s recipe from the "Le Bernardin Cookbook." (Ripert suggests starting with uncooked lobster shells, but if you’re using scraps from a steamed lobster dinner, we suggest forging ahead with those.) For good measure, here are some splendid looking stocks for crab, crawfish, and fish.
In the (slightly tweaked) words of Doc Brown, "Great stock!"