Pro Tip #3: Vegetable Stock

So many times, I see these cooking videos and shows that crow on about the use of stock and broth to augment dishes; they often suggest using it to enrich the flavour of a dish where water would be added. I couldn’t agree more; what is stock if not flavour and nutrient enriched water that can bolster a dish on both levels? Anyone who’s ever lived and/or cooked on a budget (or if you’re like me, just a stingy curmudgeon) knows there’s something to be said about squeezing every last calorie per dollar out of your grocery budget, not to mention getting that much more flavour out of your ingredients…. I can’t stress this enough: save your trimmings. Even if just to whip up a quick on-the-spot vegetable stock to keep in the freezer for future use

Save your trimmings

From humble onion and celery butts to carrot peels to meat trimmings and bones to fish carcasses or crustacean shells; there’s an essence to be pulled from all these vitamin and protein-bearing materials. Don’t let them slip away on you; they can add a dimension to your cooking that you may be missing. Even herb stems can play a part. One of the happy byproducts is that a stock simmering in your kitchen makes your whole house smell good.

There are a few things that may not do well as stock trim. Some vegetable scraps like bell pepper trim, mushrooms, cucumber, potato or leafy greens; they tend to overpower or make a stock slimy in texture.

The only meat that is tricky for stock trim is pork; unless mixed with other meats, it tends to come up lacking against other animal protein stocks. Ask any chef or look up in any cooking fundamentals textbook and you’ll notice and odd absence of the mention of pork stock.

Making stock from animal bones can have an added step of roasting the bones and trim before adding it to the boiler pot; it deepens the flavour and gives it a richer dimension. It’s advised, but not crucial. Sometimes, you want or need a quick stock for a dish you’re making and time isn’t on your side, so having some spare scrap in the freezer comes in handy in these moments. This is why you save your trimmings.

Vegetable Stock

In the video attached to this post, I make a quick step vegetable stock; mainly because the ziplock bag I keep in my freezer to collect veg trimmings was getting full (and my wife used up a good amount of the stock we keep on hand in our freezer when making soup for her blog the other day, so it was time for a top up).

Stock shouldn’t be elaborate; salt, water, pepper, a couple bay leaves and whatever veg and/or meat you want. Wine? Sure, why not? Pour one for me while you’re about it. One of my favourite cheats in making stock is to add whatever is left over from the previous batch; making stock from stock makes a deeper, richer stock (I used to do it with turkey stock when I owned a cafe years back and the result was brilliant). I refer to it as generation stock; I’ve made stock as high as 12 generations and when cooled, it has a gelatinous consistency; sheer quivering brown joy, my friends.

The process is simple as well: start with cold water, bring to a boil, pull down to a simmer and let it ride for at least an hour; I’ve ridden a stock as long as 48 hours, the trick is to keep topping up the water as it slowly boils down.

Once you’ve eked out every last nutrient and bit of flavour out of your stock, strain it and let it cool before storing it in the fridge or freezer; or if you need it right away, use it hot.

This, my friends, is why you save your trimmings.

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