Sunday, January 17, 2010

Who Has the Time?

Stock by definition is “something out of which other things are made,” and this is so very true of culinary stocks which are the foundation for so much in cooking. There are a number of methods for making stock and many different types requiring a variety of ingredients.

In restaurants a stock is made in a very specific way depending on its intended use. Stocks can take days to make and be extremely complex. This is just fine for restaurants, but in daily life who has the time? When life became too busy, I needed to simplify meal preparation, and set out to make a good, flavorful, nutritious and uncomplicated stock that could be used for soups and cooking. As you’ve probably concluded, I no longer make stocks according to recipes. The only nod to my culinary training is the addition of a whole onion stuck with some whole cloves, a few whole black peppercorns, and a couple whole bay leaves.

Beginning around mid-October and through April, there is a perpetual stockpot on the stove. Vegetable scraps from meal preparation are the basis for my stocks. These stocks generally have only one type of animal protein, if any at all. Many of the stocks are vegetable based. But, a chicken carcass is not wasted! It goes into the pot along with whatever vegetable scraps are available. Trimmings from a roast or steak are used or get frozen for use in the next stock. Cooking liquid from other vegetables is drained into the stockpot, too. The pot usually simmers for a day or two with all the vegetable scraps from meal prep dropped right in. Of course, at night or when no one is at home, the stock is put in the refrigerator, but otherwise, it simmers away filling the house with its fragrance.

Soup Stock

1 small onion stuck with 3 or 4 whole cloves

2 whole bay leaves

4 to 6 whole black peppercorns

Vegetable scraps (potato peels, onion peels, cores from any type of peppers, trimmings from celery, squash seeds and skins, carrot scrapings and ends, juice drained from tomatoes and other vegetables, etc.)

Cooking water from other vegetables: potatoes, carrots, peas, etc.

Meat scraps (a carcass or trimmings from whatever you happen to be preparing.)

Put everything into a large pot with a lid and cover with water. Bring just to a boil, reduce heat immediately, and simmer several hours, at least. Place a colander over a bowl or pot large enough to hold the stock. Carefully pour the stock through the colander to drain into the pot. When all the liquid has drained into the pot, remove the colander and discard the scraps. Place the stock in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight. Remove the stock from the refrigerator and skim off any fat that has congealed on the surface. At this stage, it can also be strained through cheese cloth. The stock is now ready to be used. The stock can also be frozen.


  1. I keep vegetable scraps and carcasses from roast chicken in a bag in my freezer, and turn them into stock once they reach critical mass.

  2. This is a great idea and an ideal solution for people who cook primarily for themselves. Those great scraps are not wasted!