With Thanksgiving just around the corner, I thought it would be a good time to discuss making stock for all of your holiday cooking. Many of the traditional holiday dishes we make require some sort of stock in the ingredient list (Mashed potatoes, gravy, etc.). Most people fill their shopping cart with cans and cardboard cartons of various types of stock. Why waste your money when you can make it at home? Not only is making your own stock a money saver, you can also control what goes into it. The stock you make at home is free of all sorts of weird additives, preservatives, and other funky stuff that come in the yucky store bought stocks. You are the creator, the stock god. What makes up your stock is completely up to you. It can be completely organic and vegan if that is what you are in to.
I hate wasting anything. That is why making stock is so cool. I save what would typically be garbage to make stock. Be it the stalks from broccoli, the fibrous ends of asparagus, the leftover carcass from a roasted chicken, the bone from a bone-in ham, or the shells from cleaned shrimp. It can all go in a large pot of water and slowly simmered all day to make a tasty, chemical free stock. I save vegetable and meat scraps in a gallon size zip lock freezer bag in my freezer. If I am making a meat stock, I grab a few pieces of the veggies out and toss it in the pot with the meat scraps or I use the whole bag of vegetables to make a veggie stock.
Making stock is so super simple. The only items you need are a large stock pot, water, protein and vegetable scraps, salt, pepper, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and some spices. Throw it all in the pot, add enough water to fill the pot about 2/3 of the way up (make sure you have enough protein and veggie scraps so the water level nearly covers it all, but not entirely or you will end up with nothing but warm flavored water – BLAH!), add 1 T each of garlic infused olive oil (my favorite is Frantoio Valtenesi garlic infused olive oil – see product link below) and garlic infused balsamic vinegar (my favorite is Aceto garlic infused balsamic vinegar – see product link below), 2 T of dried thyme, and salt and pepper to taste (again my reminder – YOU CAN ALWAYS ADD MORE, YOU CANNOT TAKE IT OUT – add in small amounts increase as you need). Put the lid on the pot, set your burner on medium low or simmer and let it slowly cook all day. Your house will smell soooooo yummy! After the stock has cooked for a few hours (I try to leave it going all day if I can), take it off the heat, let it cool down a bit, and strain the liquid from all of the glorious things you put in the pot. You can store your homemade stock in an air tight container for up to a week in the fridge OR (here is the clever part) pour into ice cube trays and freeze. You can take out a few cubes at a time as you need them and you don’t have to worry about your stock getting all nasty and rotten on you.
Having homemade stock on hand provides a great opportunity to add a ton of flavor to any dish that requires water, such as mashed potatoes, rice, gravies, and of course soups. My son even uses the stock I make when he cooks his instant Ramen noodles. He says it tastes a lot better than using plain old water. In my recipe for Jambalaya below, I use homemade stock because it just adds that extra depth of flavor to the dish. If you make it with water, it is just not the same. Try making homemade stock and adding it in place of water when you cooking. You will taste the difference.
- 1 lb. shrimp
- 1 lb. crawfish (or 2 lbs. Chicken if you don’t like or cannot have shellfish)
- 1 lb. smoked sausage (andouille if you can find it – if not, any smoked sausage will work)
- 1 lb. ground/bulk sausage
- ½ chopped onion
- 2 stalks celery (chopped)
- 2 chopped carrots
- 2 chopped hot peppers (your choice of heat level) (I like hot, so I use habaneros)
- 3 cups long grain rice (I actually use a mixture of wild and brown)
- 4 cups stock (chicken, veggie, or shrimp is best)
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper (if you like it hot like I do, increase to 1 T)
- 2 T Worcestershire sauce
- 1 T Louisiana hot sauce (if you like it hot like I do, increase to 3 T)
- 1T Frantoio Valtenesi garlic infused olive oil
- 1T Aceto garlic infused balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp sugar
- salt and pepper to taste (about 2 tsp each)
- In a heavy pot fry both pork sausages, drain, and put aside.
- Brown chicken (if using instead of shellfish) in the pork drippings, drain, and put aside (cook it halfway in the drippings and let it finish cooking in the oven otherwise it will be dry).
- In the remaining drippings, sauté chopped onions and celery until soft and translucent, stirring often.
- Add stock, all seasonings, and chicken. (NOTE: When I make this with shellfish, I don’t add the shrimp and crawfish until there is about 10 minutes left in the cooking time because they both cook so fast and over cooked shellfish is rubbery and nasty!)
- Stir to combine.
- Bring to a boil.
- Add rice and bring it back to a boil.
- Pour into an oven safe baking dish.
- Cover with tin foil and place in the oven on 375⁰ for about least 30 minutes (or until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed).
- Let sit 10 minutes before serving.
Flavors of Lonato Products Used: