BY KAREN ANDERSON
A hot stock tip
To make a clear stock, make sure to simmer—not boil—the stock. If you boil it, proteins from the bones coagulate and make the stock cloudy. Use whole spices and herbs, as ground versions may also cloud the stock.
Stock is a liquid made by simmering animal bones or meat, seafood or vegetables in water with spices and herbs. It is used to prepare soups and some sauces, and is an essential pantry ingredient.
But store-bought preparations may contain up to half your daily sodium recommendation in a single cup. When you make your own stock, build flavour with classic spices and herbs instead of all that salt. And, depending on the ingredients you add, it may cost less money than buying commercial stock.
Homemade stock delivers nutrition as well as taste. It is an excellent source of niacin—a B vitamin that helps your body convert food into energy—as well as small amounts of potassium, zinc and iron. You can control the fat content by removing any that comes to the surface after cooling, and control the salt content by simply not adding any.
It’s fun to exercise your stock options as a cook. Use it as the base for soups, sauces and casseroles. Keep a pot simmering on the back burner and slowly add it to your favourite risotto recipe. Use it instead of water when you boil and mash potatoes. Add a pinch of turmeric and ginger to a steaming mugful and sip it when cold and flu season hits. It may not be the cure, but it sure will be a comfort.
What’s the difference between stock and bone broth?
Bone broth is stock that is left to simmer longer, so the gelatin in the bones has time to seep out and create a thick liquid. Stocks simmer for two hours. Bone broths, however, may simmer for six to 18 hours and the bones may also be roasted in the oven and browned before simmering.
Homemade chicken stock
Yield: 6 litres (6 quarts)
Making stock requires planning. Keep two resealable containers in your freezer. After you’ve enjoyed a roast chicken or turkey, pick the bones clean and put them into one container. Collect celery hearts, leek tops, carrot ends and onion skins from your chopping board and keep them in the other. When you have about 1 to 2.5 kg (2 to 5 pounds) of bones, you are ready to make stock.
3 bay leaves
6 sprigs of fresh parsley
6 sprigs of fresh thyme
2.2 kg (5 lb) chicken or turkey bones 3 stalks fresh celery (or an equal amount of frozen bits)
3 carrots, peeled and halved
2 onions, halved (and any extra onion skins you have, as they add a nice brown colour to the stock)
1 firm apple (green or gala), halved
6-8 L (6-8 quarts) cold water (avoid warm or hot water as it can seal the bones and lock the flavour inside them)
To prepare stock:
Tie peppercorns and herbs in a cheesecloth bag or place in a large tea ball. Place herbs, bones, celery, carrots, onions and apple in a heavy-bottom stock pot and add water until it is at least 2.5 cm (1 inch) higher than the contents of the pot. Bring to a boil and immediately reduce the heat to simmer gently, covered, for two hours. Skim any impurities from the surface during the simmering. Strain broth through a fine mesh sieve into a clean pot. Discard solids. Return stock to simmer without a lid for an additional 30 minutes if you want a more intense flavour. Keep in refrigerator for up to four days, or pour it into 125- to 250-ml (1- to 2-cup) containers and freeze until needed.
Chicken and wild rice soup
A tasty way to use some of your stock.
5 ml (1 tsp) olive oil
75 ml (1/3 cup) each diced carrot, celery, onion
1 clove garlic
2 L (8 cups) stock
250 ml (1 cup) wild or brown rice
250 ml (1 cup) each diced chicken or turkey, zucchini, tomatoes and corn niblets
5 ml (1 tsp) dried summer savory
15 ml (1 Tbsp) fresh parsley
5 ml (1 tsp) freshly ground pepper (or to taste)
To prepare soup:
Heat olive oil, carrot, celery and onion in stock pot, cooking and stirring until translucent. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds before stirring in stock and rice. Simmer for 45 minutes. Add chicken, zucchini, tomatoes, corn and summer savory. Heat through. Serve garnished with fresh parsley and ground pepper.
Using the Alberta Nutrition Guidelines, this soup recipe is:
…choose most often
Per serving—1/8 of recipe, 371 g or about 325 ml (1-1/3 cup): 230 calories, 5 g fat (1 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 440 mg sodium, 32 g carbohydrate, 3 g fibre and 16 g protein.