Did you ever wonder why food that you cook at home tastes different from restaurant food? If you put aside working 80 hour weeks and a culinary education, the difference lies in the ingredients they use. And there is no more important ingredient used in professional kitchens than stock. Beef stock, chicken stock, demi-glace, vegetable stock it doesn't matter, when you want your food to stand out you need to control the most basic of ingredients. And making stock is easy, if a bit time consuming. Now you might think that hey, I can buy stock from the supermarket and you would be right, but never so wrong. Store bought stocks are full of salt, MSG, and other nasty preservatives, so when you make your own you get the control. Time to get off the couch and make your own, and trust me your food (and your health) will thank you.
The basic method of making stocks is easy, you simply take whatever ingredients you want to use and boil them in water until all the flavour is removed and then reduce the stock until it becomes so flavourful that your eyes roll back in your head. As many vitamins are water soluble, your stock will also be healthy and very low calorie, about 12 calories per cup. Now you do need to make stock in a rather large portion, so having access to a freezer is a must. Once your stock is cooled and measured out freeze it so you have it when you need it. I like to keep several homemade stocks in my freezer so I have it when I need it. You can use stocks for flavouring complex carbs, braising meat, making sauces or making soups. Ready to get started? This is a simple recipe for a basic vegetable stock. You will need a large, heavy bottomed stock pot to make this properly.
Homemade vegetable stock
Step 1: Make the Mirepoix
- 3 medium sized unions cut into chunks
- 6 carrots cut into pieces (washed only do not peel
- 6 stocks of celery cut into pieces
- Olive oil
Add olive oil to stock pot and turn heat on maximum. sauté onions,carrots and celery until they begin to caramelise.
Step 2: The mise en place
- 1 green pepper chopped
- 3 potatoes washed and chopped
- 1/2 cabbage chopped
- 1 packet peas with shells
- any other vegetable you desire such as broccoli, leeks, parsnips, etc
- 10 cups of water
- 3 tablespoons of olive oil
Step 3: Cook the broth
- Add the water to the stock pot with the mirepoix and make sure to scrape the bottom of the pan
- Add all the cut vegetables to the pot with the olive oil
- Season the broth with rosemary, thyme and a bay leaf or two (you can use any herbs here such as herbs de provence), a little salt and ground pepper
- Reduce heat and simmer the broth for at least 2 hours stirring occasionally
- After all the flavour is extracted from the veggies, turn off the heat and allow to cool (this takes a while) and then strain out the broth through a fine mesh sieve.
- measure out portions and put in freezer bags
Making stock takes a lot of time, so make sure you leave yourself a day to do it. I like to start off Sunday mornings and then have to whole day for the stock to cool before I bag it. I really can't impress on you enough the difference real stock makes to your cooking. And when you prep it in advance it is so easy to pop some out of the freezer and get cooking!
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