Anatomy of a Stock

Today we are going to take a look at the anatomy of a stock. Why and what to use so you can do a theme and variation on your own. Chicken or turkey stock are two stocks I make the most. Although I used to make vegetable stock a lot in the past.

The two main things I want to talk about today is what to use and why you use it. Stock isn’t hard to make but if you put the wrong thing in you can end up with something bitter and unpalatable. No one wants to pour their hard work down the drain.

Bones: for making a meat based stock you need bones. They can be beef bones if you want or leftover poultry carcasses. What this does is add flavor and also adds body to the stock with gelatin from the bones. You can use raw or cooked.

Carrots: Carrots add flavor and color to your stock. they provide a hint of sweetness and are a major player in building a stock adding big flavor. If I have leftover roasted ones I freeze them and toss them in.

Celery is the foil to your carrots. It is astringent, sharper in nature and helps balance out the sweetness of your carrots. I’ve made stock without celery and it just is not the same without it. I freeze old celery for stock so I have it when needed.

Onions with skins add color to your stock, they also are sweet, and amp up the flavor. If all you have are onions, celery and carrots you have your basic base to a stock and will get a good end result. Keep the skins on they help give chicken stock a lovely hue.

Parsley is another astringent ingredient. Freeze your parsley stalks for this it works great.

The next are additions that you can add if want to or not. More layers of flavor mean tastier food.

Garlic is a great savory addition to stock it helps build up the layers of flavor.

Bay leaf, whole peppercorns, and thyme are classic stock ingredients especially for chicken stock. Try tying them up in a coffee filter for easy removal before straining.

Dried plums or prunes adding one or two will make the stock sweeter in a good way. Its a small item that adds a lot to a stock.

Leeks are an addition I like, freeze the green parts after washing thoroughly and making sure there is no dirt in them.

Now for some things you need to be wary of when making stock.

Potato skins are a staple in any vegetarian stock I make but if you want a clear stock do not use them. They make stock murky, it will still taste good. Any strong vegetables. Broccoli, cauliflower and peppers can all turn a stock bitter. They do not do well with long simmering.