4 Tips to Making Great Homemade Stock
Stock cubes are great, but homemade stock is amazing.
Stock or broth is for more than just chicken soup. A good, well-made stock is a great way to naturally boost the flavors of your savory dishes without overpowering anything. Stock is all about bringing out the pure, unadulterated flavors of beef, chicken, pork, seafood and even vegetables.
You can use stock to thin out sauces without thinning out flavor. You can use it as the flavor of a good, hearty stew. You can even reduce a stock into sticky, sweet syrup and use it as a sauce all on its own.
The wonders of homemade stock are endless, but the best part of it is that it's much easier to make than it sounds! All you need is a little bit of patience and maybe a few key tips and tricks that'll keep your head above water.
1 Use leftover bones from roasts.
The interesting thing about making a stock from scratch is that you technically don't have to start from scratch! Instead of buying whole chickens or entire racks of pork ribs in order to make your stock, you can use the leftover bits and bones from last night's roast chicken or barbecue pork. Remove the excess meat (maybe save it for a sandwich) and either freeze the bones for future use or use it immediately as the base of your fresh stock! This, of course, doesn't apply to vegetable stocks for obvious reasons.
2 Amp up the flavors with aromatics.
Once you've got the main base of your stock figured out, it's time to add the aromatics. Most stocks, which are made the classic French way, start with the bones, and what is popularly known as the holy trinity of vegetables or mirepoix, which consists of celery, onion and carrots. The mirepoix adds a sweet note to stocks in order to help balance the savory notes of the bones. This vegetable base (which also serves as the main flavor base of veggie stocks) is a perfect place to improvise.
You can add more aromatics such as garlic, shallots, leeks, lemongrass, or ginger to the mirepoix for a boost of flavour. Feel free to infuse the stock with fresh herbs and whole spices as well, if you're feeling particularly adventurous. Tie up stalks of parsley, thyme, rosemary, and bay for a classic bouquet garni, or make flavorful and spicy "teabag" filled with cinnamon, star anise, black peppercorns, and chillies and toss it all into the stock.
3 Don't use too much salt.
When it comes to stock, less is more when it comes to salt. While it is a good idea to season everything you make, stock is an ingredient, not a dish, so it would be best to keep the salt levels low in order to keep you from potentially over-seasoning a dish with a salty stock. Remember that you can always add more salt to a dish, but you can never really take it away.
4 Freeze away.
Don't be scared of making more stock than you actually need. When you have too much on hand, just freeze it! Stock freezes unbelievably well, and will keep in the freezer for several months at a time. You can even freeze your stock into ice cubes, which you can then use as frozen favor cubes you can add to soups, stocks and sauces straight from the freezer.
ALSO READ: How to Make Homemade Chicken Stock
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