Last week on the Radio Live kitchen and Garden show Hester Guy and I discussed the merits of a good homemade stock and how we make them.
Good stock is the basis to a well flavoured dish, if you use inferior products then the end result will not be as good.
I generally use chicken or beef stock for all of my cooking – at times I have made fish stock but after hearing Martin Bosley (Yacht Club, Wellington) at Savour New Zealand say that he only allows chicken stock to be used with fish and seafood I have changed my mind.
While there are times (and lots of them) that I use good quality commercial stocks such as Essential Cuisine, I do like making stock and also I think there is a satisfaction that comes with making the meal from scratch. I am still working on growing my own vegetables and can’t imagine that I will be rearing our meat anytime soon!
With the rising prices of food making your own stock is also really economical and in the case of chicken stock it can be made with carcasses that would be otherwise thrown in the bin.
Salt is something that should be avoided or used very sparingly when making stock – reason being is that once the stock is reduced the flavour is concentrated and you don’t want to end up with something over salted.
After I have roasted or poached a chicken and removed the flesh I then add other chicken frames to a roasting pan as well and then gently roast them all at 150 C for 30 minutes or so. These frames are then placed in a large saucepan and covered with cold water (also pour in anything from the roasting pan). Add sliced carrot, onion, celery, leek, piece of lemon rind, bay leaf and parsley stalks and simmer for 4 hours or so. Skim any solids off the surface of the stock as they rise. After 4 hours, strain the stock and then refrigerate, lift of any fat that rises to the surface. At this stage I will perhaps use some of the stock for soup or I will reduce it further to make a concentrated stock and then freeze it in plastic tubs.
Beef stock is made with either sliced shin or you may buy a bag of beef soup bones. These I scatter into a roasting pan along with a drizzle of olive oil and a good squeeze of tomato paste. Onion, carrot, celery and garlic are added to the roasting pan with the bones. Roast at 180 C for 1 hour and then transfer to a large stock pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a simmer and skim off any sediment that rises. Continue to simmer this way for 8 hours and then strain, cool and remove any fat. This is then great for vegetable soup or can be reduced for a more concentrated flavour and frozen for later use.