When I first started out on my culinary adventures, I never used to make stock. For some reason I had it in my head that it was really difficult to do. The truth is that it’s ridiculously simple, it’s just time consuming. The ease of purchase of many really good store-produced products kind of makes it redundant and we only used to make it at home as a child around Christmas. I don’t know what it is about Christmas turkey that makes people think they have to use every single piece of it, but it’s the only time we made stock when I was growing up.
If you’ve had a roast dinner and you’ve picked your chicken, fish or roasting joint clean, don’t throw the carcass away! Make stock with it instead. All you need to do is quarter a couple of onions and chuck them in a large pan with some oil and halved garlic cloves (6 – 8). Fry them until soft, chuck in all your odds and sods from your roast and then fill the pan with water until the bones are all completely submerged. Add 3 – 6 bay leaves and seasoning, bring to the boil and then simmer over a low heat for anything between 2 and 8 hours. The longer you cook it, the more concentrated the flavour.
When I make it, I chuck everything in – the skin, the cartilage, the weird little gristly fatty bits, everything.
When you’ve cooked it for as long as you want, you just strain it into a clean pot or bowl through a sieve and voila! You have yummy tasty homemade stock, perfect for making soup with, or anything else you’d normally use stock for.
The above is obviously the simple method and it’s so jam-packed with flavour that I’ve never bothered to complicate it any more. That said, I have watched my brother making it and I think he’d argue that his is better. He makes it with onions and garlic, but he also adds in carrot and celery and other such things. You fry them with the onions and garlic and then proceed as before.
I’ve done it with herbs too, like rosemary and thyme. It gives a nice bitter edge to the flavour of soups etc, but be aware that putting too much in can make it overwhelming. Use a single sprig and put it in at the beginning with the bay leaves.