Today we are going to talk about an absolute necessity for every pantry or larder. This is the base for gravy and dishes galore and so much better for you than a bullion cube. While it requires a little more effort, it is so well worth it. To use this stock in place of a bullion cube, simply freeze into an ice tray, when they are thoroughly frozen, remove them from the ice-cube tray and place into a zip closure type bag. Any recipe that calls for a bullion cube, simply use one stock cube in its place.
Soups made with stock include all varieties of beef, veal, mutton, poultry and any other animal you prepare for the family meal table. Stock means material laid by, or stored as in “stocked”. When it comes to stock, normally you use the cheaper cuts of meat or the odds and ends from cooked meat or other portions of the animal you may have butchered where those edible portions of the animal that are not welcomed on the meal table by your family. In our house this is chicken feet, liver and brains, for some reason, even the best cooked brain is not liked, so I use these for the stock base.
When making stock you want to cut the meat into the smallest pieces you can and soak them in cold water. This will harden the albumen on the meat to prevent the juices from escaping into the liquid. Another key factor is to have a very tight-fitting lid, you don’t want the goodness of the meats and vegetables in the stock escaping or being wasted by the process of evaporation.
It is best to make the stock at least one day ahead of time. This will allow you to fully cool the stock so that the fat will raise to the top and become a solid mass which is easy to remove. You do not have to make it a day ahead if you don’t have the time, but removing the fat makes it more nutritious.
Ingredients: (for each quart of water used)
- Handful or two of meat or other animal parts, toss in bones as they contain nutrients as well.
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 peppercorns or 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 2 whole cloves
- 2 allspice berries or 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon celery seed or celery root
- sprig or two of parsley or cilantro
- 1 teaspoon of mixed herbs (oregano, marjoram, basil, what every you like) If using fresh herbs, a tablespoon of fresh minced herbs, any combination.
- 1 tablespoon of several vegetables such as onion, carrot, celery, squash, turnip
When the stock has simmered until the meat is easily shredded and the bones are clean, strain the liquid, do not let it stand or cool. Place it into a jar if not using the next day. Make sure you have boiled the jars very well so that they are clean and sterile. If you are placing into a jar for storage at a later date, set the jar in a cool place, uncovered but do not refrigerate. The stock will harden up like a jelly and the solid fats will rise to the top. This fat layer will kep keep air from the stock and should not be removed until the stock is used.
If you would like to preserve stock you can do so by following the directions in your pressure canner book for meats and stock.