Stock while-u-don’t-wait

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Making stock is easy enough – bones, vegetables, herbs, seasoning, then simmer simmer simmer. For a long, long time. And therein lies the problem – can you afford to be housebound for eight hours or so while you wait for all that boney, marrowy, veggie goodness to leach out?

We’ve heard some people talk about making stock in a pressure cooker. You can cut the cooking time down to an hour and a half, maybe less, which should fit in nicely with your TV watching. But do you have a pressure cooker? No, neither do we. But we do have a slow cooker, or crock pot, as featured in our last episode. In this latest instalment of our Adventures in Slow Cooking we find another way to put it to good use.

You can simply follow the stock recipe of your choice – here we used fish bones, left over from a delicious curry that involved fillets of sea bass. We tossed it all in, though we’ve since been told you should remove the eyes, and maybe the gills too. We didn’t brown the bones in any way – it’s fish, after all – but you probably would with beef bones. Basic stock vegetables, herbs and seasoning went in as well.

The resulting stock was to our liking, though slightly cloudy even after being double-strained to remove all solids. This may have been the gills and eyes, or possibly just that we left the cooker on high, which keeps it at full power, rather than the automatic setting, which maintains a simmer just below boiling. I have read that stock does go cloudy if boiled, so a lesson learned there. Initially we set the cooker on low, but it was taking ages to heat up. Maybe this would be fine if left overnight, though.

I have since made a chicken stock by tossing in a carcass left over from a roast dinner. It couldn’t have been easier – as with the fish stock, halve an onion, chop two carrots and a stick or three of celery, add some thyme and bay (the only herbs we had lying around), toss it all in with some parsley, fill near to the top with water and switch on. The resulting full-flavoured stock was used straight away for chicken noodle soup, bulked out with the last pickings of meat from the bones, as well as a fresh chopped carrot or two, some celery, and broken spaghetti for the noodles.

One word of warning: don’t fill it to the brim with water. The ingredients will release some moisture and the level will rise, so it could overflow.

Apart from that, happy crocking!

Oh, and some good news. We’ve been adding older episodes to the iTunes feed, which means you can now get most of them for your iPod, iPhone etc. The video quality is a bit lower, because they were filmed before the video iPod was invented … but they are still quite watchable. Next time you update the podcast in iTunes, the old episodes will appear down the list.

– Waz

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9 Responses to “Stock while-u-don’t-wait”

  • With fish stock brevity is the key, you don’t want a bitter quality coming in with the stewed bones. Also remove the bones, gills and lips before cooking for a cleaner flavour. Good to see home cooks cooking stock. Refreshing. 😉

  • slow cookers cook SLOW, and so it will not heat up for a good while– i’d say 3 – 4 hours. then when you turn away and forget about it, it will get pretty hot. i’d say for anything like a stock or stew, low heat for longer hours is best.

  • that looked absolutely perfect! i’ve never done stock myself, so i’m a little scared of it, but this looked so easy.

    my father tells me, for a result that’s clear clear, you need to clear the stock with something protein rich like egg whites: add the whites to the cold (well, not hot) liquid, heat up until the whites fall out and strain. the results i saw were very clear, but he also tells me, that it removes flavour as well. so i guess, it’s not really worth the bother, unless you’re very keen on a clear presentation.

  • Miren from New Zealand

    Great looking stock. If you want to speed things up in the slow cooker, use hot water at the beginning. That way you’re not waiting for the cooker to heat it up and it can get on with the cooking straight away. I do corned beef and stews in this way. it only takes 3 or 4 hours to cook. Another tip, if doing a stew, put in less liquid than you would if you were doing it in a casserole dish in the oven as there is less evaporation in the slow cooker. If you brown your meat coated in flour, then it self thickens too. Love your stuff. Keep it up!

  • Thanks for putting the old episodes up, I’ve been hoping you’d do that! Thanks again.

  • I use leftover carcasses all the time for stock. Using the crock pot is a great idea. One easy clean-up wrinkle: use one of those mesh stock bags sold at better cooking stores-place the carcass inside the bag with the herbs in a garni bag and clean-up is a breeze. Helps with a less contaminated stock also

  • Hey,

    Recently found you podcast. Great stuff. Watched from taragon chicken to slow cooker then went back a ways. Started watching from…um…around Canada day….Catching up fast…love the show….love the low..up to the creme Broulee(sp?)….love ya work

  • Judging by the Archives looks like I started from the beginning….lots of episodes to look forward to

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