A good stock is the essential for a lot of meals. Sauce and gravy need a meat stock, laksa, soups, risotto, casseroles all benefit from a vegetable, meat, chicken or fish stock. At home there are plenty of premade stocks, cubes and powders available and they are convenient, but not always economical, for the better quality varieties. Stocks are extremely easy and economical to make, and if you use the slow cooker they are don’t need any attention. I also only use off-cuts for stocks and you can collect these while you are cooking, and keep them in a freezer bag in the freezer ready for when you need to make a stock. These may be the greens and ends from leeks, ends and peels from carrots, end and some peel from onions, ends and some peel from garlic, ends of tomatoes or discarded seeds, stalks from parsley, bacon rind, celery leaves and ends. Some times I might need to balance out the off-cuts with some fresh vegetables from the above list.
If you buy your meat in bulk, for example a side of beef direct from the farm like I like to, you will have bones to use up, or if you fillet whole fish, or ask your fishmonger for some frames, or bone out your own chickens or ask the butcher for some frames and bones.
1 kilo beef bones
500 grams of off cuts from the above list
2 bay leave
4 sprigs thyme
In a baking tray put all ingredients and bake in a hot oven until browned, about 40 minutes. Put in a large slower cooker and cover with 4 litres of boiling water a simmer on low for 8 hours. Strain cool in the fridge, remove any fat that has set on top and use or freeze.
1 kilo chicken bones
500grams offcuts from above
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon salt
4 sprigs of thyme
Put all ingredients in the slow cooker and cover with four litres of water and simmer on low for 4 hours. Strain and cool in the fridge, remove any fat that has settled on top and freeze or use.
1 kilo fish frames
500 grams offcuts
4 sprig of thyme
Put all ingredients in a large slow cooker and cover with 4 litres of water and cook for 1 hour on the low setting.
To turn your stock into a sauce
To make what is now commonly called jus, but I was taught its called demi-glaze, from a beef or chicken stock take two litres of stock and add 100 grams of tomato paste and 300 ml red wine and reduce by half in a heavy base pot on a low simmer and season with salt and pepper.
ideas of flavours that you can add to your jus are, sage or other herbs, quince paste, port, onion jam, peppercorns, pepper berries or figs