I hadn’t realized that I haven’t ever posted instructions on how to make stock until the other day when I was reading Locavore’s fantastic blog and she made the most lovely soup.  You really should check out both of her blogs (did you know she makes wonderous concoctions of preserves too?) when you have a chance.

I digress though.

I remember making stock from the first time in chef’s school that we were actually allowed to make food. 

We had spent weeks learning to use our knives properly-as a mom cook now my knife skills involve cutting wildly while holding the baby.  I’m not quite so precise anymore. 

We carved carrots and potatoes into flower shapes.  We had our onion and celery brunoise measured and scrutinized.  One of the instructors made us start over and over again when one student didn’t get his veg pieces cut into the perfect jullienne. 

We felt sorry for him but after a few hours there were a lot less kind vibes coming his way too.

This is the guy that the next year dumped the base makings of a venison sauce down the sink after it had been marinating for three days.  The meal was for the President of Portugual and this particular apprentice chef made a quick exit from the kitchen after some worrying gestures were made towards him with a knife from the chef instructor.

There’s a great wiki for all of these cuts in case you are interested. http://www.wikihow.com/Do-Formal-Vegetable-Cuts

But back to the first day we got to cook.   In the lab, we were given rather unattractive carcasses of chicken that another group had created from a deboning class.

We carefully, got our mise en place ready at our stations.  The onion, celery and carrot was cut into precise macedoine size.  A bouqet garni was created with a bay leaf, parsley stalks, pepper corns and thyme with an extra long string attached to make for easy lifting out of the pot. 

After inspection of our prep we were given the go ahead to brown the chicken bones, add them to the pot with the rest of ingredients and top the whole thing with very cold water.

The stock was carefully skimmed repeatedly and at the end we were all graded again.

The next week involved classes on veal stock, beef stock, veg stock and finally how to create the perfect consomme with a clarifying float on the top.

Yay for us.

Here is reality;

Make a nice baked chicken and eat as much as possible.  Pick off the rest of the meat and save for a sandwich, part of a soup, enchilladas etc. 

In a big dutch oven, brown the carcass in the oven or the stove top.  Add big chunks of carrot, cerlery and onion (with the peel still on-this gives you great colour).  Add some peppercorns (around 10), a small bunch of thyme and some parsely stalks if you have them.  Fill the pot with water and boil for around 20 minutes.  Let sit on the turned off burner until it is at room temp.  NOTE:  often I just use the pan that the chicken was cooked in because…I’m lazy with washing dishes.

Put on the lid and store in the fridge overnight.  The next day skim off the fat that will have congealed on the top and drain the stock.  I store the stock in mason jars in the fridge and use in soups, stews, pies, risotto etc.  When it is first made the babes and her granddad have also been known to drink it out of sake cups while they “have tea”.

A variation that I really like is to add garlic, kafir lime leaves and lemon grass to the stock instead of the other seasonings and use the stock for thai dishes.

You can use this same method with; lamb bones, beef bones…whatever.