Making stock does take time but doesn’t take much attention so you can make it over a day or even several days. Fit it into your schedule. And make a big batch and freeze it. Portion some into ice cube trays so you can pop a cube or two into a pan for a sauce. Use freezer containers of various sizes so you can defrost only what you need. Make sure to label them with the contents and the date, at least the month and year. Labels can be as simple as a piece of masking tape.
- Collect bones, fat, and skin from poultry and meaty bones and scraps, both raw and cooked, in a plastic bag and store in the freezer. You can mix types of bones: turkey, chicken, duck, rabbit, beef, etc. Then you can call it “meat stock” instead of chicken. I don’t save barbecued chicken bones as the sauce’s flavor is too strong for an all-purpose stock.
- You can also supplement your collection, if necessary, by asking the butcher for stock bones. You will be rewarded, perhaps, with a bag of inexpensive, meaty chicken backs and wings.
- If you cook whole fish, keep these bones separate. Also, hang on to shrimp, lobster, and crab shells. They make amazing stock.
- Add vegetable trimmings such as carrot peels, onion trimmings, fennel stalks, the outer shells of fennel bulbs, mushroom stems (unless you decide to cook them), parsley stems, celery and bell pepper trimmings, a leftover bit of tomato, etc. Do not add vegetables in the cabbage/broccoli/cauliflower family. Unless you plan to make broccoli soup.
- Keep adding to your stock bag until it is full and then start another.
- When you have time, that’s the time to make stock. Store your empty stock bags in the freezer to start the process over again.
- When ready to launch into making stock, dump your stock makings into a large stockpot and cover them with water.
- Add some herbs and/or spices if you like. For example, 1 or 2 bay leaves, several sprigs of thyme, star anise. Do not add salt. Or pepper. If you want to make an Asian-flavored stock, for instance, for pho, and then add several slices of ginger, a stalk of lemon grass, and some sour lime leaves if you have them.
- Bring the pot to a boil, uncovered, and then reduce the heat so the contents just barely simmer. Forget about it—well, check it occasionally—until the fragrance fills the house and level of liquid in your pot has lowered by several inches, about 3 hours. More or less. You do not need to stir the pot at all.
- Turn off the heat and leave to cool. When cool enough to handle, strain the broth through a large strainer into a clean bowl or pot. Press on the solids to extract the broth.
- If your kitchen is cold, leave the pot on the counter to let the fat come to the surface and form a solid layer that can be spooned off. Or put the stock in the fridge and let the fat solidify there.
- Now simply portion out your stock into freezer containers, label, and date.