Simmer up a pot of flavour
Matthew Kadey, MSc, RD
Cooking from scratch has been garnering a lot of interest lately. If you love cooking from scratch, you’ll love these homemade broth and stock recipes—they couldn’t be easier. And you can put them to superb use in the delicious recipes that follow.
With renewed interest in cooking from scratch, more people are once again experiencing the pleasures of rustling up batches of homemade broths and stocks. When you think about it, there is hardly a week that passes where a recipe doesn’t call for a certain guise of broth. While it’s easy to simply use a store-bought option, DIY versions can infuse dishes with unmatched flavour and let you gain ultimate control over the ingredients that go into this kitchen staple. And there’s nothing like the aroma a pot of simmering goodness will fill a house or apartment with. You know what else? Making your own broth or stock couldn’t be easier. Read on to learn how and then get ready to enjoy the recipes that put them to superb use.
Follow these tips for great-tasting stock or broth every time.
Consider keeping a stash of kitchen scraps such as mushroom stems, fish bones, leek tops, and carrot ends in the freezer and use them to whip up a batch of broth or stock when you have plenty.
You’ll want to use a pot big enough to allow at least a couple of inches of space between the top of the pot and the ingredients in the pan.
In general, aim for a 1:1 ratio of solids to water. This will yield liquid with plenty of flavour. Enough water should be added to cover ingredients by at least 1 in (2.5 cm).
Onions, leeks, shallots, and garlic are must-have additions to a pot of simmering broth or stock, as they’ll impart tempered sweetness. Herbs, carrots, and celery are welcome additions too. And keep those Parmesan rinds out of the compost, as they can infuse some umami flavour. You’ll want to stay away from using cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and Brussels sprouts, as they can impart bitter flavour.
Slicing vegetables into smaller pieces increases the amount of surface area in contact with the water, so it’s easier for the flavours to penetrate into the broth. But don’t bother with peeling ingredients such as carrots, parsnip, and onions.
It’s best to leave salt in the shaker. That way you can season dishes, such as soup, as needed. If your stock or broth is salted to begin with, it may become overly salty if used for reduction sauces. Ground black pepper can cloud broths and stocks; whole peppercorns are best.
Start with cold water, and gradually increase the heat in the pot from there. That way all the flavours from the various ingredients have a chance to be extracted at their preferred temperature. A gentle simmer is best. Too high a heat and you can boil off some of the flavours; too low and you won’t coax out the maximum amount of flavour. Use a slotted spoon to remove any foam that forms when broth comes to a boil.
Simmer stock or broth for less than an hour, and it will likely lack good flavour. Simmer too long, though, and it may lose its “fresh” taste. A general rule of thumb is no more than 1 1/2 hours for broth and 2 1/2 hours for stock.
Whenever you make homemade broth or stock, it’s likely you’ll have more on hand than you can use in a few days. (Most stocks or broths can be refrigerated for up to five days.) That’s when you should turn to the freezer for help.
Broth or stock can be frozen for up to three months. Try dividing the liquid among muffin cups or ice cube trays to freeze it in more manageable serving sizes. This is especially useful for when a recipe calls for just a small amount to be used. And even if you have a recipe like soup that uses a few cups, the subzero cups or cubes defrost much faster than broth frozen into a large brick.
It turns out that stock and broth are not one and the same. Stock, as opposed to broth, is made with ingredients like chicken that include bones, and the collagen from those bones gives stock its thicker, somewhat gelatinous texture. Broth, on the other hand, is made mainly from vegetables and aromatics with a lighter body. Chefs often turn to stocks when making reduction sauces because it will produce a desirable consistency without the requirement for additional thickeners.