Ever wonder why some dishes taste more delicious than others? And it's not JUST the seasonings. The basis for a truly elevated meal starts with a good stock. In this post, we're sharing our three favorite stock recipes from the Feel Good Food cookbook and hope they will inspire you to save your vegetable peelings and leftover chicken bones. All that good stuff you've been throwing out will help make your chicken or veggie stock that much richer.
Having a good stock on hand is a relatively simple way to elevate the level of your cooking. Bouillons or store-bought stocks are good to keep in your pantry, but they can never duplicate the honest flavor of a homemade stock. Chicken stock, the most versatile, is easy to make and well worth the time investment. We commonly make both a light and a dark stock. Light stocks are primarily used in soup making, and dark, roasted stocks for sauces. Save the backbones, wing tips, and necks until you have about 5 pounds or so; many stores sell chicken backs and necks for just this purpose. Onions, celery, carrots, leeks, and other vegetable trimmings may be saved as well; mushroom stems are great, and even small quantities of parsnip or turnip are OK to use, but be careful as they can overpower the stock.
Makes 8–9 quarts
5 lbs chicken necks, backs, wing tips, and gizzards, rinsed
1 large onion, peeled and quartered
2 large carrots, coarsely sliced
2 ribs celery
1 leek, green part only (reserve the nice white end for soup, etc.)
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
2 bay leaves
1 head garlic, sliced in half crosswise
few sprigs fresh thyme
10 qts cold water
Combine all ingredients in a large stockpot and bring to a simmer over medium heat. For the first 30 minutes, as the bubbles are breaking, some scum will rise to the surface; skim and discard any small bits as they coagulate. This is simply the albumin (like that found in egg whites), bringing impurities to the surface. Simmer uncovered 2–3 hours. Discard the bones and vegetables and strain the stock through a fine-mesh strainer into another container, placing it in a sink full of ice water to chill. Cover and refrigerate overnight. The fat will have risen to the surface and solidified, so, the next day, skim it off and reserve or discard it. Stock freezes well for a few months, so store it in different-sized containers so it will be easily accessible.
Dark Chicken Stock
Makes about 4 quarts
Preheat oven to 400°F. Toss the chicken bones with a bit of tomato paste and place in an oiled roasting pan over a bed of coarsely chopped vegetables, including the skin of the onion this time. Roast until thoroughly caramelized, 30–40 minutes. It may be necessary to toss everything once or twice to ensure that it roasts evenly. Transfer everything to a stockpot and add a bit less water this time, just enough to cover the bones.
Proceed as above. When cooled and skimmed of fat, this may also be reduced for a rich sauce-like consistency that is excellent for some of the chicken dishes in our Feel Good Food Cookbook, such as Chicken Marsala on page 139.
Makes 8 quarts
This is a good all-purpose stock that adds extra flavor and complexity to soups or risottos. There is no need to peel the vegetables; just give them a scrub. Broccoli trimmings are good for broccoli soup and asparagus ends for asparagus soup, but both are too strong for much of anything else, so don’t use them here. Pepper trimmings can be somewhat bitter, as are eggplants’, so neither is a good candidate for making stock.
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 medium yellow onions, peeled coarsely chopped
2 ribs celery, coarsely chopped
2 large carrots, scrubbed, coarsely chopped
trimmings from 1 large leek
4 oz mushroom pieces or trimmings, or 2 or 3 pieces dried porcini mushroom
1 head garlic, halved crosswise
stems from 1 bunch parsley
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
8 qts water
Heat oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add all ingredients (except the water) at once and cook, stirring 2–3 minutes. Add 1 qt water and continue to cook until vegetables begin to soften. Now add the remaining 7 qts water, bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 45 minutes or so. Let stand for 20 minutes, then strain through a fine-mesh strainer, discarding solids. Cool completely and refrigerate, covered, for 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.