As many of my friends know, there aren’t many days that go by that I haven’t got a stock on the boil. I was brought up in a home that would never be short of a good gelatinous stock in the fridge. It didn’t always come without its mishaps. My gran, who lived with us, often infused our home with the unforgettable smell of burnt chicken bones (to compliment the smell of boiled cabbage) as she’d often forget she’d left them on the stove. But her aim was always to make the best of very little.
Stock is an important part of our diet and there should always be some in our fridge or freezer. I love knowing that I always have a nutrient-laden base for a good meal to hand. I also also take comfort in putting all the gut-healing, immune boosting minerals into my family.
I use it for cooking everything: making risotto, boiling quinoa, bulgur wheat or lentils, making soups, steaming vegetables, adding depth and flavour to stews and much more…
I used to add salt to my stocks but a good chef that I know advised me that the flavour of the stock should be underwhelming. It's when you add it to the recipes that you create that you should add the flavour enhancers.
Always try to use the best quality, preferably organic, ingredients where possible. The ingredients I use often vary depending on what I have available but here is a basic outline of what I use;
Put all of the ingredients with skin still on (even the onions and garlic), giving the carrots and celery a wash before, into a large casserole and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil and leave to simmer for 2 hours. Remove the chicken and take the flesh off the bone. Put the bones and carcass back into the liquid and continue to boil for at least two more hours. My mum often leaves her stock in the bottom oven of her Aga overnight to extract as much goodness out of the bones as possible. She always manages to create a wonderful, gelatinous, golden stock. A slow-cooker is also a good option and you can leave your stock for up to 12h hours or overnight.
Once your stock is ready, pour it through sieve capturing all of the aromatics.Choose an appropriate container and store your stock in the fridge for up to 3 days or stock it in the fridge.
* Keep the cooked chicken meat for use in salads, risotto, sandwiches etc.
* A waste-saving tip is I often keep peelings from onions and carrots and celery tops and use these for even more ingredients to really pack a punch.
* I often add the stock-soaked carrots to my dog's bowl, mashed up with her biscuits. She loves them and they are so good for her.
*A friend of mine stores hers in her freezer in 'Bon Maman' jars - a perfect alternative to plastic containers!
Spread the beef bones on a roasting tray and roast in a preheated oven 200 C/180 C Fan for 45 minutes. Once they are browned, add them to all of the above ingredients along with 3 litres water. Bring to the boil and allow to simmer for 2 - 12 hours.
Sieve all of the ingredients and store the liquid as above!
Fish and Veggie Stock
My mother-in-law in New Zealand, Cal, is a wonderful cook and gardener. She often would make a vegetable stock with produce from her garden. She is also a keen fisherwoman and many times boils up the heads and bones of her recent catch to make a sumptuous fish stock. When sending me her recipes, she told me a story of a recent fishing trip:
"T and I lost some line he was pulling in a lovely snap so i baited his last hook and WHAM an hour later he pulled in a 26 pound king fish so beautiful not a scrap of waste and will feed many of us
it was almost as big as me..just under my chin ha !! we had to put it in the wheelbarrow to get it prepped x"
No wonder the kids love hanging out with Nana!!
Cal’s Veggie Stock
"This can be as simple or complicated as you like"
Ingredients (rustic chop)
fresh carrot tops greens included
onion (shallots, white, red or spring onions sometimes one of each from the garden)
chopped ginger skin on
celery stalk plus green leaves (don't use the dark green leaves as they can be bitter)
fresh thyme and rosemary
lemongrass if you have it
fresh garlic cloves bashed with skin on
a bay leaf
Simply put together your favourites - can be sweet and basic or jazzed up with a little chopped chilli. Cover with fresh water and bring to the boil. Simmer for about half an hour. Rest, sieve, drink, freeze, make your favourite risotto or keep in the fridge for a few days until you get excited about cooking.
* the compost will love the leftovers
Cal’s Fish Stock
fresh head and backbone (there is good marrow in the bones)
1 or 2 large onions ( depending on the size of the fish )
handful of Italian parsley
Cover bones and bring to the boil. Simmer for 20 mins. Make sure you don't overcook as the stock may become bitter. Let the stock sit and cool. Lightly mash with a potato masher, then strain. Refrigerate or freeze.
"If i have a specific recipe in mind, I sometimes add to the pot chopped ginger, red or green chilli and lemongrass."