I recently made an oven version of mushroom risotto. It was good, but not perfect, so I’ll work to perfect the timing before I post it. One thing that kind of stood out, however, was that the flavor wasn’t as round as usual. The only difference, other than the cooking technique?
I used store bought stock.
I know, I know, this happened just weeks after taking a picture of my stock-filled freezer, but one batch of soup depleted my chicken stock. I was out, so I purchased the stock I used to rely on. Do I believe it made the difference? Yes, I do. I bought my favorite cheese (and taste-tested it, of course) and my usual assortment of mushrooms…I even used better quality, more flavorful butter than in the past.
In the past, a friend and I would split the cost of stock ingredients, and we’d both have a pot of stock simmering away in our kitchens.
But really, that’s not necessary. I recently made a conscious effort to save peelings from carrots, parsnips, celery, and onions. When I cut more parsley than I needed, the extras went into the stock bag in my freezer (the writing on the bag smeared slightly, but it’s still obvious what’s in there). Anytime I didn’t use all of the thyme I purchased, into the stock bag it went. I do still buy dill specifically for stock, but after throwing one sprig into the stock pot, the rest goes into my stock bag.
This time, we aren’t transforming leftovers, we’re taking the scraps that most people throw away, and turning them into homemade goodness – essentially for free. Even if you don’t cook much with stock, freeze it for the winter and turn it into chicken soup when you don’t feel well, want a simple meal, of have leftover chicken to use up.
Here is a simple stock recipe using scraps:
1 chicken carcass, including skin (or a bunch of chicken bones you’ve saved)
Scraps/peelings from the following vegetables:
Onions (any color)
1-2 dried bay leaves
about a dozen peppercorns
To make the stock, simply pile everything into a large pot and fill with water. (If you have a large slow cooker, you can put everything in there, turn it on low, and just let it go for hours). Simmer for at least 12 hours, longer if you can, adding water as needed. Strain out the solids, pour the liquid through a sieve into a large bowl, cover and refrigerate 24 hours. Skim the solidified fat and throw away. Portion out the stock into freezer-safe containers, leaving about ½ – ¾ inch of headspace. I like using 2 cup containers; I’ve never needed less than 2 cups at a time, and the stock thaws a lot faster when you have two 2-cup containers, rather than one 4 cup container. (If using plastic containers, avoid putting them in the microwave, thaw in the fridge instead.)