Surprisingly simple and very effective, homemade stocks are vital to the gourmet home cook. Get your foundation right – your stock – and dramatically improve the outcome of your dish.
For years I’ve been using store-bought stock – albeit organic – thinking homemade stocks are too difficult, time consuming and too much planning required. There’s a couple of reasons why I’ve now made the switch (don’t get me wrong, there’s still a pack in the cupboard for emergencies!):
- Katrina Pizzini (from Pizzini Wines) showed me how easy it is, especially if you’re already pottering around the house you can have a pot on the go
- I discovered that even my beloved Rapunzel organic vegetable boullion contains palm fat eg: palm oil – a product I’m trying to avoid because of its environmental impacts
- While it’s cooking, it makes my house smell lovely and homey
- Reduce waste by using up the vegetables looking a little too old to use in your main dish
- I’ve learned how to store it
You can make your own too:
- Roughly chop onion – you can leave the skin on (but take off outer bits) and brown it gently in your large stock pot (at least 4 litres) with a little olive oil. Chuck in some crushed garlic, give a stir until both are fragrant.
- Fill with water then add your flavourings such as carrot, celery (including leaves) cut into big chunks, a bunch of fresh parsley, thyme, rosemary, sage or other fresh herbs you have laying around, 5 peppercorns, 2 – 3 bay leaves.
- You can add any combination of roughly chopped veg you have also such as leek, cauliflower, zucchini, broccoli, parsnip, fennel and I even added asparagus in the stock pictured below.
- Bring to the boil, then reduce heat. Simmer gently for 2 hrs while you watch a movie, read a book, cook or clean. The volume should have reduced by about 1/4 to 1/2.
- Strain off vegetables. You can let the stock sit so the sediment settles and you have a clear broth otherwise divvy up into 500ml containers straight away. Date and freeze your stock for use down the track.
- When you want to use it and you haven’t defrosted it in time, just gently warm in a pot on the stove while you prep your other ingredients
Note that the stock is unseasoned so take this into account when making your dish and add salt as required
You can also drink the stock as a broth prior to a meal which is good to prime your stomach. Add a pinch of celtic sea salt and teaspoon (per person) of miso (I use the light miso made from fermented rice just because I like its delicate flavour). Bring to just under boiling as boiling miso kills all the goodness it contains such as lactobacillus acidophilus, then serve. I drank this last time I had a cold developing and attributed it to my speedy recovery because homemade stock jam-packed with so many concentrated vitamins and minerals.
Since beginning my Farmers Market Challenge means I trot off to Ascot Vale Farmers Market every Sunday with good mate Penny and my routine now is to make veggie stock with the leftover/old vegetables from the week before. For this reason I’ve now dubbed Sundays as ‘Stock Sundays.’ Perfect way to start the weeks worth of foodiecure cooking.