Why You Should be Making Stock (with Austrian Dumpling Recipe)

| 10/4/2016 12:36:00 PM


Why Make Stock?

I recently got into a routine of making a big pan of stock every weekend, and it is hands-down the easiest way you can turn your soups and one-pots from pretty good to epic. There is something so comforting in winter about a pot of meat and vegetables gurgling gently on the stove. Because it is such a hands-off project, it is easy to fit into your current routine. Sunday night is movie night? Have your stock going then, or while you iron, or wash the car.

I think for many people of my age and background, making your own stock or broth from scratch every weekend sounds about as esoteric and labour-intensive as plucking your own turkey for Christmas. Fortunately, in the Austrian city where I live most of the year, there is a large immigrant population, and a large Oma (Granny) population, and these groups often share a more sensible attitude towards food. In quite ordinary supermarkets you can still often buy bags of pig or beef bones, or chicken backs.

Thrift. “Chicken backs” I said to myself the first time I saw a giant pile of them in a Turkish grocer’s “What on earth do you do with them?” Well, you make stock out of them, and then you make the most sublime soup you have ever tasted out of that.

I have tried to make stock in the past, but never been very successful. The thing is, I don’t care how thrifty it might be, you cannot only use the remains of a roast. You do have to put something in, to get delicious stock out. Cooked, picked-over bones and bits of gristly skin are not enough, you need some fresh meat to give a good strong flavour. The good news is that those bits of meat can be practically anything; the cheapest cut of shin beef, pork marrow bones, the giblets from inside your roasting fowl, tough old animals that are past their productive life.

Variety. We have the tendency to think only in terms of beef or chicken when it comes to stock, but only because that’s the pitiful choice that the food industry has trained us to accept. When you make your own, the variety is much greater. You can use any kind of meat or poultry, and even mix the different types if you like.

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