Make your own stock
Stock is one of the easiest things in the world to make yourself and the homemade stuff is a hundred times better than packaged liquid stock and many more times better than the dreaded cubes. Homemade stock is also very economical and a great way to use up the bones and other leftover bits from chicken, beef and fish.
A good stock starts with:
- 2 onions, cut in half & skin on
- A few cloves of garlic, chopped in half
- A couple of bay leaves
- Piece of lemon rind
- 2â€“3 carrots, sliced down the middle
- Couple of chopped celery stalks
- Handful whole black peppercorns
- Sprig of thyme or oregano.
- Of course, you need lots of water, too.
To make vegetable stock, you can add pretty much any vegetables you have handy, though you should avoid cauliflower, broccoli and cabbage. Potatoes will make stock starchy so they, too, are best avoided.
A good vegie mix is one tomato cut and seeded, a cob of corn, a piece of celeriac, two zucchini and a handful of beans. Pumpkin can be added to stock but will go mushy and make your stock an orange colour. If using pumpkin you should strain your stock with muslin rather than a strainer.
Place all your ingredients in the base of a five-litre stock pot and fill with water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 1â€“ 2, hours depending on the intensity of flavour you want. Sea salt is optional according to taste.
For chicken stock use 1 or 2 cooked chook carcasses. Alternatively, you can use 6â€“8 chicken wings seasoned and baked in a hot oven until golden. As with the vegetable stock, place chicken and base ingredients into the pot, fill with water and simmer for a couple of hours. You are less likely to need much salt for chicken stock.
To make fish stock use a raw fish scraps, a fish carcass and crab shells or lobster shells. Some people like to use prawn heads as well. Use lemon thyme instead of regular thyme or oregano and add a squeeze of lemon juice and a splash of a good dry white wine. When making fish stock, soften the vegetables before adding fish as the fish shouldnâ€™t simmer for more than an hour.
For beef, veal or lamb stock, use bones. Many butchers sell bags of stock bones. Alternatively, you can buy a rib roast or a few T-bones, eat the steak and save the bones for your stock. Your bones should still have a bit of meat on them. If using a bag of stock bones from the butcher, season and roast them along with the onions, garlic and carrots before adding to the pot. Roasting will give you a beautiful, dark-coloured and richly flavoured stock.
Once your stock has simmered for long enough, allow it to cool and then pour through a fine strainer or sieve. Alternatively, you can use muslin to strain if any of your ingredients are particularly mushy and likely to pass through the strainer.
TIP: Stock will keep in the fridge for a few days or can be frozen for several months. To freeze it, you can either use plastic containers, ice block trays or well-sealed zip-lock bags. Freezing in small quantities will avoid waste.
Make your own stock
When you cook a chicken or whole fish, donâ€™t throw out the bits you donâ€™t serve. Make your own stock for your next risotto or soup.