When I stop and consider how much money I’ve wasted on packaged chicken stock over the years, I cringe. It is loaded with sodium and yellow food coloring. How could I do that to my home cooking?
I saw the light back in 2012 when taking a knife skills cooking class in New York City. While learning the proper way to handle and use various knives, the instructor enlightened the students on how simple making your own stock really was.
I was converted. Here’s how I make mine. You can improve upon it however you’d like.
Waste Not, Want Not
Save every peeling, nub, core, seed, wilted, too soft to use in a salad vegetable you’ve got. Start a freezer bag and add to it whenever you are cooking with veggies. I save it all: onion peels (yes, the outer brown part contributes to a nice rich color), squash innards (seeds and all), carrot peels, wilted parsley, cauliflower cores. The sky’s the limit. Pack it in your freezer bag and wait for it to fill up.
In the meantime, save your chicken bones, chicken parts, wing tips, and whatever you’ve got. Store them in a separate freezer bag.
Watch Football While Stock Simmers
When you’ve got some bones and a gallon bag of veggies, throw them together in a stock pot (or deep pot), add a few peppercorns, bring to a boil, and then turn down the heat to simmer for a few hours. Sunday afternoons are a great time to make stock while watching football.
Let things cool off (including your temper if your team loses) and run your fresh stock though a strainer. At this point you could add the refuse to your compost pile, or if you don’t compost, trash it.
TIP: Here’s one more brilliant tip given to me by a friend. You see, I got to be so stock crazy, my freezer was filled with little tupperware containers. I barely had any room for ice cream! So he suggested I use freezer bags for my stock. Now, I zip them up, lay them flat until they freeze, then stack them against the side. They take up much less room and are easy to thaw under some warm water!
Note: If you are super eco-friendly and the thought of using plastic bags is painful, I reuse the veggie nub and chicken bone bags. I guess you could wash out and reuse the frozen stock ones too.
Cooking with Stock
You will need to make seasoning adjustments to your cooking with home-cooked stock because there’s no added salt to the real stuff.
That’s it. Enjoy! And let me know how you like it.