Oh, Beautiful Stock!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

"Stock to a cook is voice to a singer."

That's the quote I found on the internet today, and I couldn't agree more. Cook with stock, and even the most mediocre dishes are elevated to the status of "delicious." Soups become fantastic, rice sings in your mouth, and spaghetti sauce develops a fullness and richness of flavour you never thought possible.

Generally, meat dishes are prepared with a stock made from similar meat (e.g. beef with beef stock, lamb with lamb stock, chicken with chicken stock, fish with fish stock.) Vegetable soups can be prepared with the stock of your choice, but most cooks prefer poultry stock (including me.) I have used beef stock for my Cream of Potato Soup in a pinch, but if I have poultry stock, I use it.

What is the difference between stock and broth? Broth is usually thinner, less robust, and made from whatever is kicking around the fridge when you finish off the roast after supper. Stock is usually boiled much longer, includes bones, and follows more of a set formulaic recipe. Properly-prepared stock from bones also has a meat-sparing effect, meaning you don't need to have as much meat in your meal when stock is included. The gelatin in the stock (which comes from the bones) is extremely healthy for you, and is the factor that "stretches" the other protein in the meal.

Pregnant women and children should try to consume meals prepared with stock almost daily. Everyone else should use it as often as possible.

Not to mention--if you cook with stock, everyone will think you are the best cook in the neighbourhood!

This is my recipe for poultry stock. It is loosely based on the recipe I got from Jordan Rubin's The Maker's Diet book (which was, in turn, loosely based on Sally Fallon's recipe from Nourishing Traditions.) I make it in large batches, using a 20-quart stockpot, so that I only have to make it once every couple of months. Just split the recipe down if your pot is smaller. But really--a cheap but large stock pot is probably one of the better investments you can make for your kitchen. A nice one is even better.

Chicken Stock

2-4 Chicken carcasses from roast, not picked too clean, including the giblets, skin, and any pan drippings not used in gravy (Alternatively, you could use 2 whole, uncooked chickens cut into pieces)
4-6 pounds chicken backs and necks (available quite cheaply from the meat counter)
filtered water
1/2 c. apple cider vinegar
1/4 c. extra-virgin coconut oil
2 large onions, peeled and cut into wedges
6-8 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
4-6 large carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
4-6 large celery stalks, coarsely chopped
4" piece ginger root, peeled and crushed
1/4 tsp. cardamom (whole)
1/2 tsp. black peppercorns
4 bay leaves
1 tsp. mustard seeds
2 tbsp. Celtic Sea Salt
1 bunch parsley

Place chicken in pot and cover with water, adding apple cider vinegar. Water should be at least 2" below top of pot. Put on burner on medium.

Add all remaining ingredients except parsley. When it comes to a boil, skim off any foam. Simmer for 12-24 hours--the longer you simmer it, the more gelatin will be released into the stock. 10 minutes before finishing, throw in the parsley (this will release more mineral ions into the broth.)

Let cool slightly, then strain and put into containers for freezing. The bones will be very soft--a great treat for your dog.

Turkey Stock: Substitute one large or two small turkey carcasses and giblets, etc. for the chicken.

And now, I leave you with that famous ode to soup, sung by the griffin in Alice Through The Looking Glass:

Soup Of The Evening
Lewis Carroll

Beautiful Soup, so rich and green,
Waiting in a hot tureen!
Who for such dainties would not stoop?
Soup of the evening, beautiful Soup!
Soup of the evening, beautiful Soup!
Beau - ootiful Soo - oop!
Beau - ootiful Soo - oop!
Soo - oop of the e - e - evening,
Beautiful, beautiful Soup!

Beautiful Soup! Who cares for fish,
Game, or any other dish?
Who would not give all else for
two pennyworth only of beautiful Soup?
Pennyworth only of beautiful Soup?

Beau - ootiful Soo - oop!
Beau - ootiful Soo - oop!
Soo - oop of the e - e - evening,
Beautiful, beautiful Soup!

Edit: Upon muddling this over for the day, and further investigation, this song was actually sung by the Mock Turtle, and it was in Alice In Wonderland. Thankfully, I caught myself before someone else did. As a side note, you can now read the entire complete volumes of Alice In Wonderland and Alice Through The Looking Glass, complete with original illustrations, on the internet.

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  1. You always have such good suggestions for people. And you so make me want to cook and eat better!!

    Ok, so this stock might be my first step. How much does it make? It seems like this would last a really long time. What kind of containers do you use for the freezer?

  2. Hey, Anne! Music to my ears! :-)

    This stock makes about 12-15 quarts. I make it in my 20 quart stock pot. Usually I use Ziploc freezer containers or 3-cup yogurt or sour cream containers to put it in the freezer. I try to freeze it in 3-cup or 4-cup portions, because that works nicely for the amount that is required to go into soup--then if I forget to have some thawed in the fridge, I can just throw in the whole container's-worth at a time!

    I use stock quite a bit, as I make soup about once or twice a week (LARGE batches of soup), plus I use it in my rice and spaghetti sauce and stew. (Although I use beef stock in the latter two.) Usually one batch of poultry stock lasts me about 1 1/2 - 2 months.

    If you have a smaller pot, you can cut the vegetables and fixings in about half. I got a nice big one for efficiency's sake. The first time I made stock in my little dutch-oven pan, and went through all that work to get--3 1/2 quarts of stock! Didn't seem worth it to me.

    Let me know how your stock adventures turn out.

  3. I also find that stock is much more flavourful when you use roasted meats. Maybe something happens in the bones in the roasting process? Definitely, you and I agree...




    I love soup so much that I never want to share. I find myself remembering the Seinfeld episode with the soup nazi saying, "NO SOUP FOR YOU!!" for the smallest of infractions. I want to keep the soup for myself and say, "Jess...you have grey socks today...NO SOUP FOR YOU."

    LOL Not really, but I AM quite crestfallen when the last bowl of soup heats and I know there won't be more for a time.


  4. Yummm.....you truly are an excellent cook! Wish I lived closer so you could feed me more often! (giggle)

  5. "Broth is usually thinner, less robust, and made from whatever is kicking around the fridge when you finish off the roast after supper."

    I'm still not quite clear on the difference. My husband seems to think that you can make broth from the carcass - the bones and some fragments of meat after you've eaten your whole chicken for dinner. I learned from Sally Fallon that you have to use the whole chicken - bones, skin, meat and all. Can you clarify for me? Thanks.
    I buy organic both from time to time. Is this not as good as stock?


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