The success of many recipes depends on using a good stock. Most store-bought stock has too much salt in the best case, and in the worst case even lacks flavor. Not to mention bouillon cubes…
Homemade stock is easy to make, just put some ingredients in water and allow to simmer for some hours. It is a good way to use up leftovers, including vegetable scraps and bones (after eating the meat off of them!). I like to use beef stock for beef dishes, lamb stock for lamb dishes, fish stock for fish dishes, chicken stock for chicken dishes… You get the message. And so I made pork stock to make Carne Adovada, and for Iberico Pork with Pomegranate, and for Iberico Pork with Celeriac. This pork stock has great depth of flavor and is very rich due to the gelatin.
There are a few things to know about stock:
- Many instructions in recipes for stock are to help keep the stock clear. This includes blanching ingredients, not allowing the stock to boil, among other things. If you are going to use the stock in a way that you won’t notice whether the stock is clear or not (for instance, a thick sauce), you can leave out those steps.
- The meat flavor comes from meat, bones give off some flavor but mostly gelatin that will help to thicken the stock. So make sure to add bones if thickening is important, and make sure that if you make stock from bones that there is some meat attached to them for flavor.
- Flavor extraction is faster if the ingredients are cut into small pieces (therefore I use ground meat to make meat stock).
- The time it takes to make stock depends on the main ingredient. Beef takes the longest (4-6 hours), fish the shortest (20-30 minutes). Chicken (2-3 hours) and vegetables (1 hour) somewhere in between.
- Roasting ingredients before using them to make a stock will make a “brown stock” with a fuller flavor (and darker color).
- A pressure cooker provides better and faster flavor extraction. Use half the time in the pressure cooker as prescribed for a regular stockpot.
- To get rid of the fat, allow the stock to cool (first to room temperature, preferably in an ice water bath, and then in the refrigerator). You can then easily scoop off the fat. Don’t discard it, but use it instead of butter or oil in many recipes (e.g. to roast vegetables or to brown meat).
- Never put salt in stock before it has been reduced to the desired strength/thickness, as subsequent reduction would make it too salty.
A collection of all my stock recipes can be found in the recipe index. Anyway, here is how I make pork stock.
Makes about 2 litres (2 quarts)
1 kilogram (2.2 lbs) ground pork
1 pork trotter (pork foot), split
1 celery stalk
6 black pepper corns
2 litres (2 quarts) cold water
optional: bay leaf, fresh thyme, parsley, sage
Preheat the oven to 190ºC/375ºF (fan forced). Roughly chop the vegetables. (Larger pieces of vegetables are OK in this recipe, as the flavor is extracted from them faster than from the pork.) Put the vegetables, ground pork, and pork trotter in an ovenproof dish.
Stock can be stored in the refrigerator for a few days, or frozen for months. The reduced version frozen in an ice cube tray makes for a very easy way to make sauces or otherwise add flavor to your dishes. Conor calls them flavor bombs, which is exactly what they are.
Two years ago I postd about a sauerkraut and smoked mackerel quiche. Although this may sound like a strange combination, I can assure you that it is delicious. Especially with a good glass of riesling…