Do you ever wonder how people cooked before the invention of convenience foods? I never really thought about it while growing up or as a new bride. Canned and boxed foods lined my cupboard shelves. In fact, I thought pouring a box of macaroni into boiling water and adding the little white package was cooking from scratch. After all, we hadn’t ordered out. . .
I still laugh at myself the first time I met Travis’s family. I’d been invited to lunch and the smells meandering from the kitchen were enough to make me surreptitiously check for drool. We sat down to freshly mashed potatoes, tender roast beef with homemade gravy, and apple pie (with a real crust!).
It was all made from scratch.
I don’t think Travis had any notion he’d soon go from his mom’s home-cooking to boxed mac and cheese, ‘cardboard pizza’, and (shudder) Ramen noodles.
That was probably a good thing. 🙂
Thankfully since then, I’ve learned to make stocks – the basis for turning ‘blah’ dishes into something delicious. And don’t let the canned stuff from the store fool ya. They’re loaded with sodium and MSG and aren’t nearly as tasty.
Sometimes a recipe calls for broth over stock. Honestly, I use them interchangeably. But there are some small differences. . .
Stock vs. Broth
Stock: This consists of bones (i.e. beef bones, or chicken/turkey carcass) which are roasted dry, then boiled and simmered for several hours with vegetables (usually onions, carrots, celery, and an assortment of spices).
I add vinegar to the water according to the Nourishing Traditions style as it pulls more minerals (calcium, magnesium, and potassium) from the bones. Stock is more gelatinous than broth and that in itself adds numerous health benefits. Gelatin aids in digestion, allows the body to utilize protein better and has been used to treat muscular dystrophy, diabetes, Crohn’s, and colitis.
I usually make stock more often because we eat a lot of roasted chicken, so we have plenty of bones. I also take the juices from the roasting pan and save that right along with the bones. This makes TO DIE FOR soup base. The canned variety doesn’t hold a candle to this!
Broth: This is meat simmered in stock or water. When making chicken broth, most people just throw in the whole chicken. When it’s done you can strain the meat and save for use in casseroles or stir-fry. The color and flavor is lighter than stock, and it isn’t as rich or hearty. But if we have old hens that need to go, I use them for broth because their tough meat isn’t good for much else.
Some would say that stock is best for gravies and sauces while broth is better for cooking rice and pasta. Again, I regard them as one and the same but I generally make more stock so that’s what I use.
This makes a fabulous soup base. The canned variety doesn’t hold a candle to this!
- 1 whole chicken
- 1 whole gizzard from chicken ((optional))
- 2-4 whole chicken feet (scrubbed clean (optional – makes it gelatinous))
- 4 quarts water
- 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 large onion (coarsely chopped)
- 2 large carrots (peeled and coarsely chopped)
- 3 large celery stalks (coarsely chopped)
- 1 bunch parsley
If using a whole chicken, cut off the wings and remove the neck and fat glands. Cut chicken into several pieces.
Place chicken pieces or just bones into a large stock pot with 4 qts. of water, vinegar, onions, carrots, and celery. Let stand 30 min. to 1 hr. Do not heat water.
Bring water to a boil and skim off the scum that rises to the top. If this scum is left in the stock it will ruin the flavor. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 6-8 hrs. (The longer you cook the stock, the richer and more flavorful. I’ve let it go for 24 hours.) About 10 min. before cooking time is done, add parsley.
Strain the stock, removing the chicken pieces, vegetables, and bones. Let them cool and remove the meat for other uses. (I usually freeze the vegetables and meat for chicken soup.)
Pour the stock into a large container and refrigerate. If you prefer, skim off the layer of fat that forms on top.
Pour remaining stock into pint jars (equivalent to 14 oz. cans) and freeze. I would not recommend filling jars to the top or they will expand when freezing and crack the glass. Speaking from experience!
If you don’t have a whole chicken you can replace it with 2-3 lbs. of chicken parts such as necks, backs, wings OR 3-4 lbs. of chicken bones that have been broken to let the marrow seep out (marrow adds flavor and minerals).
Making your own stock/broth might sound intimidating at first, but throwing a chicken carcass from last night’s dinner into a stock pot and letting it simmer all day isn’t any more complicated than boiling water. If you’re not convinced by taste alone, the health benefits should win you over!
Do you use stock for specific recipes or do you use them interchangeably?