Happy Fall! I know many of us dread the cooler days ahead (me included!) So….why not make those cooler days just a tad warmer by putting up a pot of wonderfully-soul-satisfying homemade stock? If you do not make homemade stock, well you simply should be (sorry that was my mother speaking.)
It is sooooooo worth the effort and its rich, deep flavor compared to its canned chemical laden equivalent will hopefully convince you that, seriously, MAKE YOURS HOMEMADE!
To boot, it is so very easy once you start thinking like an Italian nonna as you go about your busy, daily lives. Granted in today’s market, there are now higher quality stock offerings upon the shelves and candidly, in a pinch, we too reach for those brands. But once you have the ‘brodo’ (broth) mindset under your belt, those times will be few and both your soul and your pocket will feel lighter as a result. An extra bonus – there is nothing quite so comforting as the aroma of a pot of stock simmering on the stove.
But first, I wanted to share our tips for making an epic stock ……
- No recipe required: There are really only a few rules about what to toss in that stockpot. And you absolutely do not need a recipe once you have made stock a few times. Promise.
- Your freezer is your friend: FREEZE YOUR SCRAPS! We always have bags of frozen bits in our freezers waiting for the next stockpot. Roasted chicken carcass? Freeze it. Vegetable scraps? Freeze them. End of a rind of Parmigiano? Freeze it too. Then when you have time to make stock, simply pull everything out of the freezer, cover in water and bring it to a boil. Water magically turns all those scraps into a golden treasure.
- Cook with the rhythm of the season: Follow the seasons and freeze as you go. Your stock will love you for it. Leeks in spring. Carrots or fennel tops in summer. Take your cues from mother earth and your broths will take on the rich sensual nuances of the season.
- What not to put in the pot: There aren’t many rules with making stock except for what to leave out of the pot. You want to leave any veggies like cauliflower or broccoli (imparts a grassy flavor) out as well as any of the woody herbs such as rosemary (can make stock bitter).
- Add a splash of vinegar: Add a little splash of vinegar to your pot. It helps pull the minerals like calcium out of the bones.
- Take the fat out: The easiest way to defat a stock is to make it a day ahead if you can swing it. Then just toss the entire pot in the fridge overnight and like magic, the fat will rise to the surface and form its own little ‘fat island’ that you can just pull off the next day and toss. Magic with so little effort!
- Roast them bones: Roasting the veggies and bones in advance of making the stock helps intensify the flavor and imparts a beautiful color to the stock. If you have the time, toss them in an oven for about 30 minutes before they hit the stockpot. But this step is absolutely not necessary if you are short on time. REPEAT. This step is absolutely not necessary. Do not let time be a reason you aren’t making homemade stock!
- Hold the salt: Hold off salting your broth until you are ready to use it to make a meal. If you salt early, you may need to reduce that broth and then the salt will concentrate and make everything too salty. Instead, freeze your stock unsalted and when ready to use either for a soup or in a recipe, salt accordingly!
- Toss in that rind: Never knew what to do with that rind from the Parmigiano? Toss it in your stockpot. It will add a nice complexity to the flavor. You can also do this once you have a pot of soup simmering on the stove as well. Simply fish it out before serving if it didn’t dissolve fully. Heck, freeze them all year and make a tasty broth just from the rinds.
That’s it! Our best tips for making that epic, rich, flavorful stock. Now here is a recipe to get you started and then go forth and make stock. Make us proud!!
Homemade Chicken Stock (Brodo di Pollo)
- Cuisine: Italian
- 4–5 pound chicken or chicken parts such as backs, wings, necks
- 2 medium onions, washed and quartered (no need to peel if organic)
- 2 or 3 large carrots, washed and trimmed, cut into 2 or 3 large pieces
- 2 or 3 ribs celery including the leafy bits, washed, cut into 2 or 3 large pieces
- 1 clove garlic, peeled, slightly smashed
- 2 fresh bay leaves
- Handful good-sized parsley sprigs, about 6-8
- About 15 or so black peppercorns
- Wash the chicken. Remove the giblets if still intact. Put all of the ingredients in a large stockpot. Add in enough cold water to cover the ingredients by a few inches. Bring to a boil over medium heat, skimming off any foam that forms at the top.
- Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer gently, partially covered, for 3 or 4 hours until the broth has developed a deep yellow color and has reduced by about half.
- Salt to taste, if desired. (Cook’s Note: You can leave your broth unsalted until you use in your cooking. If you are adding to salty foods or reducing the broth, it may become too salty if you add the salt in advance.)
- Strain the broth through a colander or cheesecloth. Allow the broth to cool to room temperature and time permitting, cover and place in the refrigerator overnight. The fat will congeal on the top overnight. Spoon off the next morning and discard.
- Your broth will keep in the refrigerator for approximately 3 days or freeze for future use.