Tech School: Stock

2011-10-29T06:00:00Z 2014-09-16T13:01:55Z Tech School: StockCassandra Vires | Photography by Jennifer Silverberg Feast Magazine | Inspired Local Food Culture/Midwest

As winter closes in, we turn to our favorite hearty comfort foods, most of which get their rich flavor from stock. Purchasing packaged stock or broth is handy in a pinch, but homemade stock has such superior flavor and texture, it's worth the extra steps.

The difference between stock and broth? Stock is made from bones, and broth is made from meat.

Stock is deeper in flavor and richer because of the proteins found in connective tissues and bones. These proteins, or collagens, give stock its velvety texture and, when reduced, its gelatinous consistency. It can easily be made whenever you have leftover bones from cooking. Fresh stock not used within a week can be frozen in ice cube trays, muffin tins or freezer bags for easy defrosting later. And it's so easy to make, you can improvise without a recipe if you follow these basic guidelines:

  • Roasting the bones will create a darker, fuller-flavored stock for soups. Unroasted bones will make a fantastic sauce.
  • Be creative with the mirepoix and aromatics. Traditionally, onion, carrot, celery and bay leaf are used, but add garlic, thyme, rosemary or leek for a more unique flavor base.
  • Never add salt. Since stock is a base for so many different dishes, it's best to season the actual dish at hand.
  • There's no need for a precise amount of water. Just make sure there's enough water to cover all the ingredients.
  • Always start with cold water. Heat can cause proteins to harden more quickly, preventing the slow release of proteins needed to create a fully flavorful stock. Also, don't allow the stock to come to a boil. Adjust the temperature as needed to maintain a gentle simmer. If the liquid comes to a boil, the stock may become cloudy because impurities aren't able to rise to the top.
  • Don't stir. Stirring disrupts coagulation and pushes impurities back into the stock. Instead, gently skim any fat or impurities from the top and discard.
  • Different stocks require different cooking times. Chicken stock must be cooked 3 to 4 hours, fish stock for 30 to 45 minutes, lamb stock for 5 to 6 hours, and veal and turkey stocks for 8 to 10 hours.
  • Strain the stock to remove any bits and pieces, then refrigerate for up to a week or freeze.

Turkey Risotto

Serves | 4 to 6 |

  • 6 cups turkey stock
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 leeks, washed thoroughly between layers, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup assorted mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups arborio rice, rinsed
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups shredded roasted turkey
  • 8 oz fresh chevre

| Preparation | In a medium saucepan, bring stock to a simmer. In a large pot, heat oil over medium-low heat until small ripples begin to appear. Add leeks, mushrooms and garlic and sauté until soft but not browned. Season with salt and pepper. Add rice and stir to coat. Deglaze the pan with wine, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Continue to stir until all the wine has cooked into the rice.

Add the simmering stock, ½ cup at a time, stirring frequently and allowing stock to be absorbed between each addition. Continue this process over low heat until rice is al dente. Stir in turkey and chevre, and season again with salt and pepper.

Chef Cassandra Vires is the owner and chef of Home Wine Kitchen. She received her culinary training in Houston, Texas, and has a knack for reimagining classic dishes.

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