We make stock on a daily basis. It’s a passive process in which we pile stems, peels, trimmings and bones into a pot, cover them with water and turn on the heat. It’s an easy-going routine, so much so it almost feels lazy.
The task that is at once casual and methodic. Measuring is unnecessary but timing and ingredients are everything. Pungent or strongly flavored items like leeks and salmon are the title characters in their own stock and we add very little to fill out the pot.
Trimmings from a day’s worth of mirepoix prep come together as an innocuous vegetable stock that we use in just about everything or as a filler for a poultry or beef stock. Our rule of thumb is to fill the pot to about 60% of its capacity and add just enough water to cover the trimmings completely– about a half inch above the surface of the trimmings.
There are things that will bitter out a stock or will simply be too strong of a flavor: All nightshades (except tomatoes), tarragon, cabbage, kale, liver onion skins and fruit peels.
Salt and pepper are unnecessary and sometimes a deficit. The wrong salt will make the cloud the stock. There’s always an opportunity to season at the time of service.
The benefits of having a few stocks at the ready are evidenced at nearly every meal. Paella is better with shrimp stock, risotto deepens with a mushroom stock. It’s all very easy, uses a by-product and reduces kitchen waste. It saves a pretty penny too.
Keeps: Frozen 2 weeks, in the refrigerator 1 week
The size of the pot that we use is based on the volume of scraps we have.
We fill a pot 60% full of scraps and cover it with water.
Meats and leeks
Submerge under 2″ of water
Submerge under 1″ of water
Peels, trimmings and bits that we always keep for stock
Garlic paper and trimming
Onion peels (the tough white exterior)
Green bean and pea trimmings
Parsnip and celeriac trimmings and peels
Carrot trimmings and peels
Celery trimmings, bases and leaves
Fennel tops, their hard cores, blemished bits
Shrimp & Crab Shells
Beef bones and scraps
Poultry bones and scraps
Lamb for gravy or to create a reduction later – lanolin tends to get gamey after bit
Things we never use
3 tsp = 1 TBSP
2 TBSP = 1 ounce
1 cup = 8 oz
1 cup = 1/2 pint
4 cups = 1 quart
4 quarts = 1 gallon
16 cups – 1 gallon
WHAT TO DO
Simmer vegetable broths to 200° for 5 to 10 minutes.
Turn off the heat and cover.
Let steep for 30 minutes as it cools.
Bring meat broths to a boil and then immediately turn them down to a simmer and let them go for about 3 hours.
Simmer fish broth for 1 hour
Skim the foamy proteins off of the top of all stocks and you’ll have a clearer product. Cloudy broths aren’t the end of the world, simply add them to opaque purees like tomato sauce or pumpkin.
Simmer never boil – boiling trimmings makes the stock cloudy and bitter.
Always leave your pot uncovered after it is done simmering so that the stock can cool down faster. If you have a lot of stock, remember that you want to cool it to below 40°F within 2 hours. Get an ice bath going if you aren’t going to use the stock while it’s hot.