Sunday, 17 January 2010

Taking (or, rather, making) Stock

Both my fiancé and I have been unwell over the past week. After consultation with a doctor, I was relieved to discover it wasn't swine flu or malaria, but that it was some kind of viral flu/cold thing. As a result, the week's meal plans went out the window as neither of us had the energy to do very much for a good few days. This left us with something of a glut of vegetables, as we still had about half the previous week's veg box when our new one arrived on Friday.

I started feeling a little better this weekend and have been up and about more, so decided to use up a lot of the left over vegetables by making some stock, and I ended up making both a vegetable stock and a chicken stock, as we had a left-over chicken carcass too from Saturday night's dinner. I've been watching a lot of River Cottage on 4 on Demand recently and have been influenced by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's ideas about not wasting stuff, especially bits of animal. Documented below are my first ever attempts at making stock.

Both recipes I used were from Lindsey Bareham's A Celebration of Soup.

For the vegetable stock I used onion, carrot, celery, mushroom and trimmings of leek, broccoli and lettuce.

 Here's the finished product next to my Lindsey Bareham book:

Mmmm, stock.

Next, of course, I decided to go one step further and to boil up some tasty chicken bones.


And, the result:

I think the chicken one tastes better than the vegetable one: vegetable one seems a bit bland and I don't know if I chopped the vegetables small enough or cooked it for long enough. I had a bit of trouble with the chicken stock when I was trying to simmer it, because one setting on my hob was too low (i.e. it wasn't really simmering at all), but the next setting seemed too high, with it starting to boil! This meant a fun game of constantly switching between the two settings for 2 hours in an attempt to get it right. Why doesn't my hob have half settings?!

I've already used some of the vegetable stock to make this vegetable broth from BBC Food. And, er, it wasn't very nice. In fact I couldn't eat it and threw it away. I'm not sure if it was my stock being too weak, but it basically tasted like vegetables cooked in wine - now, I like wine with many things, but this was just an awful clash of flavours. Not a recipe I'll be cooking again.

 Finally, here is a blurry picture of my oven which I took by accident. Just because.


  1. Hi

    I came across your lovely blog - which I am now following - and thought you might like to take a peek at mine. I live in the French Alps and write about food and renovating our old watermill. Would you be interested in exchanging links?



  2. Mmm, there's something about the smell of chicken stock simmering that is so soothing. Perfect for when you're feeling under the weather.

    I've never tried vegetable stock before. I saw this bouillon recipe the other day, which looked really interesting and might be another option if you don't want to use stock cubes?

    Ooh, I'll tell you what's good: ham hock. They usually cost two or three quid and if you gently simmer them for four or so hours (with all the veg, etc) not only is the ham tender and delicious, but the stock is amazing too. Mmm!

    Glad to hear you're feeling a bit better.x

  3. What a shame you didn't make the chicken stock before you were ill - it can't be called Jewish penicillin for nothing! Hope you are now both fully recovered.

  4. @Suzler, thanks for the tip re: ham hock! I'll have to try that some time!

    @Chocletter, indeed it was a shame, but never mind. Yes, we are both well now, thank you. :)

  5. Making stock is so comforting. I have also taken to freezing the leftovers in plastic cup measures.

    Broccoli in stock sounds strange to me. I wonder if the broccoli taste would overwhelming. It sounds like there wasn't much taste after all for yours, though.

    Making stock in the slow cooker also works. Then you just leave it all day. It's so satisfying not to waste anything. I keep a bag of bones and veg scraps in the freezer, which I fill as I go until there's enough to make a batch.

  6. It suggested it my recipe book that you could use broccoli stems, so I did. It certainly wasn't overwhelming! Think I might need to chop things smaller or simmer for longer next time.