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Stock Up

truly using your ends and stems

· Recipe,Stock,WasteLess

Elevate your game with Stock

I went to college in New York City and walked all the time, in all seasons, in all weather. In in the winter, there's an evil phenomenon we called "Cement Puddles". These occur between the curb and the crosswalk, where the pavement unevenly dips down a bit. You see the dip all summer but you don't think that much about it. We have these dips in San Francisco too, but here, when they fill with water, you see a giant puddle and go on your way. In NYC when it drops below freezing and snows, the puddles get a thin ice surface that collects nasty grey, salty snow on top. This then reflects the hard sky and cement buildings around and you are tricked into stepping on it. I swear they look exactly like cement. You think you're safely in the crosswalk but your foot breaks through and suddenly you have ice and city sludge and rat crap (probably! I mean, probably not, but if it happens to you, let me know what your brain pictures) sliding down you calf into your boot. Its horrible; I love San Francisco.

Once, on my two mile walk to work, I was waiting to cross the street when a cab swung to the curb to let a passenger out and in the process threw up a legitimate tidal wave of icy city snow and water. I was hit. From head to toe: in the face, dripping down my back, my pants were soaked, into my boots. I turned around and went home to change for work but I felt sick and got in bed instead. I would have done anything for some homemade soup at that moment!

Whatever your winter drama is this year- you're sick, kid is sick, you live in a snowy clime, heater is broken (SF peeps, am I right?) - don't be caught unprepared! Make some chicken stock, package and freeze it smartly as I'll show you to do and homemade soup will be perpetually at your finger tips!

First, lets talk for a minute about the differences between broth, stock and bone broth - which has gained hipster popularity recently though it is ancient.

BROTH - meat based, short boil time. Most simply, broth is made from aromatics and meat, maybe a few bones but probably only boils for around 1-2 hours. Can be seasoned while cooking. Remains liquid at room temperature.

STOCK - bone based, medium boil time. Stock usually has aromatics and roasted bones that might have some meat stuck on them. Stock boils for around 3-4 hours so all of the collagen and connective tissue is broken down and you get the benefits. It's like jello when cold. When you buy "stock" in the grocery store you're not really getting anything close to homemade. Most of those boxes have coloring added and so much sodium. If you have a great Italian Deli or high end butcher shop they usually sell shop-made stock in the freezer section.

BONE BROTH - a little bit of both? Bone broth is touted for its healing powers and healthful nutrients. Its usually boiled for an entire day and has aromatics but can also have vinegar, turmeric, or tomato paste for flavor. I've seen recipes for crock pots which might be nice to revisit! Long cooking times break down the bones as in stock, but is seasoned and spruced up a bit to have a thin consistency and to taste good when served alone.

VEGGIE - kinda counts! If you're a vegetarian, I still think you should make and cook with stock rather than water or something from a box. Simply leave the bones out of the method below. To make it heartier, you can add a handful of dried mushrooms or mushroom stems and gills, a few sundried tomatoes or a handful of dried garbanzo beans which will help thicken up the resulting stock. 

I advocate making something we'll call BROCK. We're not going to season the liquid because it will be more adaptable for any use later. You aren't going to consume the stock as is, it will require additional cooking later to turn it into a sauce or a soup. We aren't going to cook it for 4 hours (because who has the time?) so it will be liquid at room temperature. This recipe provides the most useful taste and consistency for your home kitchen. Its also a cinch to make, so there's no excuse not to try it out!

From a food waste stand point, this recipe is a miracle worker. Here's what I do:

Keep a ziplock bag labeled "FOR STOCK" and every time you're trimming up veggies for another recipe, put the ends and stems in there, zip it up and put it in the freezer. Carrot peels? YUP! Onion skins, tops and bottoms? GREAT! Mushroom stems? C'mon, these are stock GOLD! Broccoli stems, celery bottoms and leaves, tomato tops, squash peels and guts, etc.

Now, importantly, every time you roast a chicken or piece of meat that has bones, wrap and freeze the bones! Whole roasted chickens yield a whole carcass but chicken legs will collect in the freezer bag until you have enough. Braised short ribs will leave you with some great beef bones.

Decide to boil the stock on a day where you'll be at home for a bit. It doesn't even count as cooking because there's no chopping or paying attention. Turn on the heat, then come back and strain it in 2 hours or so.

Homemade Stock (Chicken, Beef, or Veggie) - PRINTABLE VERSION

  1. Place bones in your largest pot. If you’ve had them stored frozen, just use frozen. Aim for about 1 chicken carcass - either literally that or your can use a dozen or so wings, thighs, drumstick bones. If you have some beef bones, feel free to mix with chicken bones or prepare separately. If making veggie stock, sub a handful of dried garbanzo beans, or mushroom stems, dried mushrooms or a few sundried tomatoes.
  2. Add aromatics - celery, onions, carrots - and other vegetables. A few garlic cloves would be ok, tomato tops, squash stems, mushrooms, broccoli stems, herbs. See chart for ideas and details. 
  3. Add a handful of whole black peppercorn and 2 bay leaves if using. 
  4. Cover with water. 
  5. Bring to a boil.
  6. Turn down heat and simmer for about 1-2 hours. Check color of broth when you think you’re done and stop cooking when you’re happy with it. I like a nice light amber color. 
  7. Strain with a fine mesh strainer.
  8. Cool.
  9. Package for freezer. 

I mention in my mission statement that you can save money by reducing your food waste. Making stock and freezing it in small portions is a fantastic example of that. Each box of "stock" at the grocery store is $2.99 or so. This recipe is FREE. In the restaurant we jokingly called stock "Garbage Water." That moniker certainly doesn't do it justice, homemade stock will drastically change your cooking for the better, but its the best example of something fantastic coming from discards and water.

 If you don't think you're someone who is an accomplished enough cook to make stock, please think again. Try this out and let me know what you think! I'll continue to post recipes that use homemade stock.

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