Cooking stock is all about patience.  For many years I just through water in a pot of `stuff`and boiled it as hard as it would go and hope for the best.  I`ve learned that`s a bit like trying to build a house of cards with a hammer and nails – it`s a little too harsh.

Our stock is started by adding roasted bones (if you choose) and the roasted vegetables (we also put our burned onions into the mix at this point) into the pot and covering with cool water.

The key to a clear, tasty broth is slowly altering the temperature (this is very difficult when preserving because of the volume of liquid you are heating).  A cold start allows solids to coagulate in larger pieces which makes a stock easier to skim as it cooks.  The solids should gather at the top or on the outsides of the pot.

We bring the pot just to a simmer and leave it for many hours (as long as we can tolerate, at least 5 hours where possible).  I try to reduce by at least 10-15% knowing two things:

  • The more it is reduced, the more flavor it will have
  • Less liquid = less jars.  If a stock is too stong (I don`t think there`s such a thing), you can always add water during the cook.

Once the cooking is done, I let it cool before placing it outside overnight (I do this in the pressure cooker so that I can lock the lid and not fear animals pulling up for a snack).  The cool aid solidifies the fat and it floats to the surface (the picture above is after he night outside).

The next morning is another skim.

If I have time, I roast more vegetables and bring the skimmed broth, bones and all veggies back to a simmer for about an hour and cool it down again (this doesn`t take overnight – I generally cheat and throw it right outside if I`m not fearful of it becoming a little cloudy though the risk is minimal because most of the fat and solids have been removed).

The final step is to strain the whole thing.  I remove the veggies (my friend Chef Rossy has recently informed me that I can save these, puree them and use them to thicken sauces and stocks as they have texture but little flavor), bones and then I begin to ladle the soup through a straining system.  I generally use two different sieves (one is wider than the other) inside of each other.  It`s important that you don`t pour the stock through this as the force of the water will force fat solids through the mesh and into your final product.

I then bring the pots to a final simmer as I prepare to can the stock…but that`s for our final piece on this topic tomorrow…

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