Montana Public Radio

Taking Stock Of Stocks And Broths

Jan 19, 2020

At the start of each new year, The Food Guys take the opportunity to remind us that stocks are liquid gold - the edible kind. Your portolio of discarded turnip tops and outer lettuce leaves grows in value when compounded with chopped celery, carrots, onions, lovage, celery root and leeks. Transfer it all to a stockpot of simmering water and in just an hour, you've brokered your vegetable scraps into a valuable home-cooked asset.

"Stocks: everything starts with stocks." Jon says. "They're key. You'll love what they add to your cooking."

"I don't see any point in buying vegetable stock, because it's so easy to make; you can cook it up in less than an hour," says Greg. 

Keep a bag of discarded vegetable peelings in your freezer. When it's big enough, add it to some chopped, mild vegetables and simmer in "a good quantity of water" for 30-60 minutes. Strain, refrigerate and voila: vegetable stock without salt or preservatives.

When it comes to meat stocks, Greg says: "What you want from a stock is the gelatin contained in the tissues of the meat. You're simmering the stock at low heat for a long time. Avoid letting it come to a boil or it'll become cloudy as too much protein is released at once."

Leftovers from a whole roasted chicken are excellent for making stock. Use the back, the wings, the neck, the heart, and if you can get them, the feet - but skip the liver.  Put the chicken carcass into a pot with celery, carrots, a chopped onion or two, and a couple of chopped tomatoes. Add water to cover the ingredients by an inch. From the start, keep the heat very low. Let it simmer for three to four hours, checking to make sure that a bubble emerges now and then.

Strain out the liquid, then transfer the stock into several wide, flat containers to cool it as rapidly as possible, and refrigerate it uncovered. To keep the flavor from turning sour, and to avoid foodborne illness, the liquid's temperature needs to drop from 140 degrees F down to 70 in no more than two hours, and all the way down to a safe temperature of 40 degrees F within another four hours.

Overnight, the fat will rise to the surface; scrape it off the next day, add seasoning, and you've got chicken stock.

Shank and oxtail are the best cuts to use for beef stock. Roast them at 450 degrees F for about an hour to allow them to develop a crust. In the last half-hour of roasting, add a couple of chopped onions and carrots. Put all the ingredients into a pot. Deglaze the roasting pan by adding water and heating it on the stovetop, then stirring up all the juices sticking to the pan. Add that deglazing water to the stock pot along with celery, parsley, and water to cover. Cook very slowly for ten hours. Drain the stock, cool it, refrigerate it uncovered, and degrease it the next day.

Follow the same instructions to make stock from pork or lamb.

(Broadcast: "The Food Guys," 1/19/20. Listen weekly on the radio at 9:53 a.m. Sundays, or via podcast.)