Using stocks in place of water in a recipe adds an added dimension of flavor, so they’re well worth using if you can. Most of the stocks in this book are described within the recipes, but here is a general method of making them.
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 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.
Canned chicken stock can be used if you don’t have your own. It’s not as good, but acceptable. Canned beef stock is not very good.
- For beef stock:
- 3 lbs. meat scraps, fat trimmed away, including pieces with bones (soup bones or oxtails are the most desirable)
- 2 carrots, cut up
- For veal, lamb, or pork stock:
- 3 lbs. meat scraps and bones, fat removed
- For chicken stock:
- 3-4 lbs. chicken pieces, no liver, or a whole chicken
- For crab, shrimp, or crawfish stock:
- Picked or peeled shells in any quantity
- Peel of 1/2 lemon
- Fish stock:
- Bones and scraps from fish, gills and livers removed
- 1 tsp. oregano
- Stock seasonings:
- 1 large onion, cut up
- Top four inches of a bunch of celery, cut up
- Stems from a bunch of parsley
- 1 tsp. peppercorns
- 1 tsp. dried thyme
- 2 bay leaves
Beef, veal, lamb or pork stock: Heat a heavy kettle or stockpot over medium heat and add the meat and bones. Brown them until they get quite dark, turning them now and then. (For the beef stock, add the carrots after the meat browns, and cook until soft.) Then add two gallons of water to the pot, plus all the stock seasonings. Bring to a light boil, then lower to a bare simmer. Cook for two to three hours. Then go to Finish, below.
Chicken stock: Pour two 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 two hours. Then go to Finish, below.
Crab, shrimp, or crawfish stock: Crush the crab claws or crawfish shells with a pounder to break them open. Combine them in a heavy kettle or stockpot with the stock seasonings and enough water to cover the shells. Bring to a light boil, then lower to a bare simmer. Cook for 30 minutes. Then go to Finish, below.
Fish stock: Put all the fish bones and scraps into a pot and nearly cover them with cold water. Heat until the water begins to steam, then pour off all the water. Refill the pot with enough water to cover and add the stock seasonings. Bring to a light boil, then lower to a bare simmer. Cook for 45 minutes. Then go to Finish, below.
Vegetable stock: Combine all the seasoning vegetables with one 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 scum that forms at the top. For meat and chicken stocks, also skim off any fat that rises to the top. Cook for the noted time, then strain the stock through the finest sieve or cheesecloth. Dispose of the solids. (Except for the chicken or meats, which can be picked from the bones for use in other recipes.)
2. Stocks can be further reduced and intensified by continuing to simmer after the solids have been removed.
3. Let the stocks cool to lukewarm, then refrigerate if not using immediately. 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 after being refrigerated; this is all right.