- Skill Level: Easy
- Cost: Inexpensive
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Can be made ahead of time.
Using stocks in place of water in a recipe gives an added dimension of flavor, so they’re well worth making and using if you can. Many of the stocks in this book are described within the recipes, but here is a general method of making a variety of stocks.
The key to making good stock is to simmer it very slowly for a long time, with only a few bubbles breaking on top of the pot. Slow-cooked stocks come out clear and full of flavor. The longer you cook a stock, the more intense it gets and the less of it you need in a recipe. Stocks hold up for a few days in the refrigerator or for a long time if well sealed in the freezer. Many cooks freeze stock in ice-cube trays, so they can slip out a few cubes and add it to recipes conveniently.
FOR THE BEEF, VEAL, LAMB, OR PORK STOCK: Heat a heavy kettle or stockpot over medium heat. Add the meat and bones of whichever meat you are using and cook until well browned all over, turning them now and then. (For the beef stock, add the carrots after the meat begins to brown.) Then add 2 gallons of water to the pot, plus all of the stock seasonings. Bring to a light boil, then lower to a bare simmer. Cook for 2-3 hours. Then go to Finish, below.
FOR THE CHICKEN STOCK: Pour 2 gallons of water into a heavy kettle or stockpot. Add the chicken and the stock seasonings. Bring to a light boil, then lower to a bare simmer. Cook for 2 hours. Then go to Finish, below.
FOR THE CRAB, SHRIMP, OR CRAWFISH STOCK: Crush the crab claws and/or crawfish shells with a pounder to break open. Combine claws and/or shells in a heavy kettle or stockpot with the stock seasonings and enough water to cover. Bring to a light boil, lower to a bare simmer, and cook for 30 minutes. Then go to Finish, below.
FOR THE FISH STOCK: Put fish bones and scraps into a pot and nearly cover with cold water. Heat until water begins to steam, then pour off water. Refill pot with enough water to cover and add the oregano and stock seasonings. Bring to a light boil, then lower to a bare simmer. Cook for 45 minutes. Then go to Finish, below.
FOR A VEGETABLE STOCK: Combine stock seasonings with 1 gallon of water. Bring to a boil then lower to a bare simmer. Cook for 30 minutes. Then go to Finish, below.
FINISH FOR ALL STOCKS:
1. As the pot boils, skim any foam that rises to the top. For meat and chicken stocks, also skim off any fat. Cook for the noted time, then strain stock through the finest sieve or cheesecloth. Dispose of solids (except for the chicken or meats, which can be picked from the bones for use in other recipes). Stocks can be further reduced and intensified by continuing to simmer after the solids have been removed.
2. Let stock cool to lukewarm, then refrigerate if not using right away. For beef and chicken stocks, the fat will rise and solidify upon chilling and can be easily removed. All except vegetable stocks may become gelatinous in the refrigerator; this is not a problem.
Canned chicken stock can be used if you don’t have your own. It’s not as good, but it’s acceptable. Canned beef stock is not very good, and I wouldn’t recommend using it.
Nutritional information is based on the entire recipe of chicken stock.