Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Michael Ruhlman in The Elements of Cooking and Ratio (both indispensable texts for the home cook I might add) sings the praises of stock for the home kitchen. It's true that if I have stock at the ready I am much more likely to use it and there are dishes I would rarely make if I didn't.

In "notes on cooking" from The Elements of Cooking, specifically the stock section, Ruhlman writes that if you are going to use stock throughout the week, you can leave it in an open pot on the stove after straining. Simply bring it to boiling daily and taste it as the week progresses for constituency. Throughout the week you can enrich the stock with trimmings.

This is a revelation. I more often than not use seasoned plain water or a bouillon cube when a recipe calls for stock. I avoid canned or aseptically package stock as it is an edible foodlike substance, not an infusion from meats and vegetables. The best part about store-bought stock is the MSG for which you might as well use bouillon. So now I can conveniently use fresh home made stock for recipes that call for it.

More importantly are the recipes upon whose success hinges stock. I am much more likely to make soup or risotto if I have a pot of stock begging to be used.

When I make stock I use meaty chicken carcasses (or turkey if it's that time of year) and I have used meaty beef bones which was tasty for us and Jack Jack the dog.

My basic method although you would do well to read Ruhlman on the subject;

1 chicken carcass
1 bay leaf
a few sprigs of thyme
8 or so pepper corns
3 or so garlic cloves
a couple of onions quartered
a few carrot in large chunks
a couple of celery stalks also in large chunks
any other appropriate veggies that might be laying around

Cover the chicken carcass with water in a large pot and bring to just below a simmer, 180 - 190°F. Add the bay leaf, peppercorns and thyme. Allow the chicken bones to infuse the water with their chickeny goodness for 2 to 3 hours skimming any foam that appears on the top.

Add your aromatic veggies (garlic, onion, carrot, celery etc.) and cook this way for an additional hour.

If you are doing a vegetable stock, you only need to do this last step. An hour is long enough to leach the tasty goodness from the veggies.



  1. While the evergreen pot is a pretty badass idea, you can also have quality homemade stock at the ready any time by freezing it. I make a bigass pot twice a year or so, cool it, then freeze it in 3-cup portions in ziploc bags. You don't even need to thaw it to use: rip the bag apart, drop the block in a pot and boil it before use.

  2. Nice one, Paul! For some reason my freezer is like a bottomless hole. I put stuff in never for it to return (until freezerburnt and useless).