take stock make stock

I remember when my friend, Chong, told me she made her own stock. I thought, “Man, that’s serious. That would really cut into my pool-playing time.”

If you knew Chong you’d be daunted too.  She makes dumplings filled with black mushrooms that look like tiny, perfect handbags.

Her home is spotless. I think she actually owns a steam cleaner.

She fell in love with Paris and traveled there so often we started calling her Madame.

For fun she paints copies of Vermeer’s paintings that look like Vermeer’s paintings. I’m not joking.  Madame Chong is serious about her passions.

Turns out making stock is not so serious or daunting. So what if it took me a decade to figure that out?

Making stock is easy. Simmering stock makes your kitchen smell good. And you can award yourself tree-hugger points for getting all the good out of your food.

I like to make stock with the leftovers from a roast chicken, sometimes that chicken is a store-bought, rotisserie bird and sometimes I roast it.

Use fish bones or shrimp shells for fish stock. Use up leftover bits and bops of veggies for vegetable stock.

Bundle up herbs into a bouquet garni and throw it in the mix if you’re feeling fancy.

Or just throw those herbs in all willy-nilly. Go for it. Making stock should be easy, in my opinion.

Take stock then make stock.

Look through the fridge, see what you have and throw it together. Let it simmer while you cruise around the house and do other things like write a blog post, cook something else, clean, chillax.

I like to freeze most of the batch in several containers, labeled with the date it was made.  With a few spices and additions stock makes a handy base for a flavorful soup. Use it to deglaze a pan and make a quick sauce. Cooking rice, pasta or Golden Oats in stock will add flavor without adding lots of calories. 

Perhaps you should work on your pool game while the stock simmers. Wouldn’t that be great? You’d be living somewhere with a pool table, sharking it up.

Making stock is easier than becoming a pool shark and becoming a pool shark is easier than painting like Vermeer.

Here’s my favorite, simple, chicken stock recipe:

Chicken Stock

quantity: approx. 8 cups of stock

prep time: 15 minutes; cook time: 90 minutes

  • 1 Tablespoon of butter
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped shallots (substitute white onion, yellow onion or 3-4 cloves of garlic)
  • 2 carrots, roughly chopped
  • 3 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 5 or 6 stems of fresh parsley
  • 5 0r 6 stems of fresh dill
  • 3 or 4 stems of fresh thyme
  • 1 two-inch piece of ginger root, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 12 cups of water
  • 1 chicken carcass, leftover from a cooked bird…..bones, bits and all. *I used the leftovers from a 3.5 pound chicken that I roasted.
  • 4-5 whole peppercorns *I use red or black peppercorns. Use what you have.
  • *optional: salt and pepper to taste
  • *optional: cotton butcher’s string for tying the herbs into bundles

Prep all your veggies and herbs and such. Rinse, peel, chop.

You’ll cook everything in one large stock pot.

Melt the butter in the pot over medium heat. Add the chopped shallot and cook for 4-5 minutes until it softens, stirring occasionally.

Add the carrots, celery and ginger. Stir to mix everything together. Cook for about 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Your vegetables should look bright and shiny.

Add the chicken bones and bits….or carcass and 12 cups of water. Add the fresh herbs tied up all pretty or wild and free. Add the whole peppercorns.

Turn the heat up till the liquid boils then reduce to simmer.

Simmer for roughly 90 minutes, uncovered. If the liquid level looks low then add a bit more water and turn the heat down more. Taste the stock occasionally. Stock should taste like what it is…a flavorful, simple base to build on.

Strain the liquid from the solids and discard the solids. Season the stock with salt and pepper to bring out the tastes. If you’re planning on using the stock in a variety of dishes make sure you keep your salt and pepper subtle. You can always add more seasoning to whatever you’re whipping up later.

Store in in airtight containers in the fridge for up to three days or in the freeze till you need it. I like to split the batch in half or into thirds and freeze in several containers.

If you want to make the stock lower in fat content then let it cool thoroughly in the fridge then skim the fat from the top with a slotted spoon.

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4 Responses to take stock make stock

  1. Molly Fitz says:

    I, too, failed at first to understand why Madame Chong felt the need to make her own stock. I thought: this lady needs to chillax. It’s true we were playing a lot of pool back then and there just wasn’t time! Now I make a vegetable stock every couple of weeks and I think of Chong each time. I even use a similar method – I keep a stock pot in my freezer and keep adding scraps of vegetables – carrot and potato peels, celery tops, mushroom stems, leek greens – until it’s full. Then I just fill it up with water and put it on the stove. When it begins to thaw and I can get a sense of what exactly is in there, I sometimes add a bit of this or that to balance it out. It’s fun because it’s a little different every time, and it’s a super low maintenance way to add depth to just about any savory dish (just replace the water in a recipe with stock)!

  2. zerrin says:

    I love the title! Markets do not sell stock here in Turkey, and we don’t make it at home, either. We use stock just when we need it, so we don’t stock it. I’ve seen in many English food blogs that vegetable stock or chicken stock is what you use very commonly. And I was planning to make it at home. But I thought it was not something easy. Thank you so much for this recipe and showing that it’s not that difficult.

  3. Christina del B. says:

    I love making stock and a trick that I learned was to pour some of it into ice cube trays and then freeze these little bits and pop them into a zip lock. Each cube is about 1-2 TBSP depending on the size of your cubes. It’s a handy way to have a little of something good!

  4. I love your no-fuss, no-muss approach to cooking stock! I have yet to try this (feigned shock). I know. I am not proud. But, it’s one of my goals for 2011. :-p I’m so excited!!