I have NEVER worked in a commercial kitchen that did’t make their own stock. It is a building block, dare I say a foundation, to the culinary craft. And yet, most households buy their stock (or– gasp!– broth) from the supermarket. I don’t blame anyone. I have spent my fair share of money on a carton of stock. It’s extremely convenient and demands no preemptive thinking. But the amount of money you spend on a carton of stock compared to how much money it costs you to make it, is outrageous. If you set up your kitchen to function in a strategic manner, making your own stock is just as easy and picking a carton up off the grocery store shelf.
If you look up a recipe for chicken or vegetable stock on the internet, it seems far too tedious to be worth it. Face it, the taste of homemade stock does not trump the exhaustion you feel after a week, hard worked. But what cooking channels and magazines don’t tell you is that in the commercial kitchen, stock is comprised almost entirely of trash. Yep. All the scraps leftover from prepping dinner that usually end up in the compost bin or the trash are what comprise a stock. You think they do it for the flavor? No way, they do it because it saves them a lot of money. When I was in culinary school, throwing away the skins of an onion was committing a mortal sin. Everything went into the stock. There were huge pots, that looked more like cisterns you could play hide and seek in, that we filled to the brim with carrot shavings, potato peels, tomato seeds, meat bones, etc. Almost everything went in. While you can make a fancy ass stock, no doubt, I’m going to show you the smart way to do it.
In our kitchen we have a relatively large, plastic, storage container. We take it out while we are making dinner. All of the leftover vegetable scraps go into the container and then we store it in the fridge when we’re done. On Saturday, while little baby-kins is away in dreamland, we dump the scraps into our largest pot, throw in some seasoning, supplement any veggies if there aren’t enough, cover with water and cook. After it’s done, we strain it and store it in the fridge for that week’s cooking. It takes no prep. You just let it do it’s thing, while you drink a glass of scotch and read “A Game of Thrones”. We buy a huge bag of carrots, onions and a bunch of celery (that cost like $6 bucks total) in case we didn’t save enough scraps that week. Don’t peel the carrots. Don’t dice peel or dice the onions. Just whack them into big chunks and throw them in the pot. Don’t have any fresh herbs around the house? Don’t waste your money buying them. While using dried herbs would constitute a slap on the wrist in culinary school, in my school, you use what you have. So if you don’t have fresh herbs just use a blend you have in your pantry. I won’t call the food police.
If you think you just don’t use enough stock to make it worth your while, you can either freeze the stock and use it when you need it or read my next post to see why stock is such an important component of frugal eating. Until then, here is my basic vegetable stock* recipe to hold you over until next week.
All of the food scraps from the week that you’ve saved in the refrigerator (about 4 cups)
2 bay leaves
10 black peppercorns
2 cloves garlic
A handful of fresh herbs (thyme, parsley stalks, rosemary)
or 2 tsp dry herb blend (italian seasoning, poultry seasoning, herbs de province)
1-2 Tbsp kosher salt depending on your sodium convictions)
If needed: roughly chopped carrots, celery and onions (skins on)
1. Dump your veggie scraps into a large stock pot.
2. Put in your herbs and spices
3. Cover with cold water.
4. Bring to a boil and let simmer for 1 hour.
5. Turn of heat and let steep for 1 hour.
6. Strain and store.
*if you want to make chicken or beef stock just add your meat scraps and bones from the week or buy a soup bone from the store. Also, very frugal!