On Your Health

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How to Make Soups and Stocks with Your Holiday Leftovers

Right now, as you are in the hustle and bustle of the holidays, having a plan to make a stock with Christmas dinner leftovers and bones may be the last thing you want to think about. But the value of creating your own stock for soups to keep you fed through an Oklahoma winter is worth the small amount of time it takes to make. Homemade stocks are filled with flavor and rich in nutrients. There are two kinds of stock – light and dark. Light stocks, which are also known as “white” stocks, are made using bones that have been cooked previously, like your leftover turkey carcass. Dark (or “brown”) stocks are made by first browning the bones, either in the oven or on the stovetop, before making the stock. Brown stocks can have a richer and more complex flavor. Why is homemade stock better than one you purchase at a store? When you make a stock at home, you’re in control of the ingredients. Store-bought stocks include a heavy dose of salt, extra additives, and unhealthy preservatives. While you can purchase a store-bought stock without preservatives, those are much more expensive. Plus, after a small amount of prep, making a stock takes minimal effort.

General directions to create any stock

Gather your leftover bones

“Any bones will work,” says Grant Johnson, the executive chef A Good Egg Dining Group Sports Nutrition in Oklahoma City. “If you’re using leftovers, use what you have left over. You don’t have to pick the bones clean, just take off all the meat that you want to eat.” Some popular bones to use are beef, chicken, turkey, ham or fish bones.

Get some vegetables

Traditionally, stocks include mirepoix (pronounced "meer-pwah") or bouquet garni to add additional flavor, Johnson says. Mirepoix is a mixture of vegetables that is 50 percent onions, 25 percent carrots and 25 percent celery. Bouquet garni means “garnished bouquet” in French and is a bundle of herbs tied together. “A traditional bouquet garni includes the green part of leeks, thyme, bay leaves and peppercorn tied up together so you can easily fish it out of the stock later,” Johnson says. “But for the home cook, it’s fine not to tie them together since you’ll be straining them out anyway.”

Water, heating and storing

Toss your vegetables in a pot with the bones. Cover the bones with cold water. “It’s important to use cold water because hot water will release the collagen in the bones, which will make the stock cloudy,” Johnson says. Bring the water gently to a simmer over medium/low heat, making sure not to boil it. You want to see less than one or two bubbles per second. “If the stock is boiling, [proteins from the bones] become emulsified in the stock, which will make it cloudy and give it a dull and greasy flavor,” says James Peterson in his book Sauces. Once your stock has cooked for the recommended amount of time (different kinds of bones require different cook times), strain the solids from the stock through “as fine a strainer as possible,” Johnson recommends, to remove all sediment. Don’t push the solids through the strainer, just let it strain on its own. If you push the bones, you’ll add some unwanted sediment to your stock. While you may want to keep the vegetables for later use, Johnson strongly advises against this. “Throw everything but the liquid away,” Johnson says. “You’ve cooked out all the flavor and nutrition from the vegetables and bones, so you don’t need them anymore.” If you’re not planning to use your stock relatively soon after making it, freeze it within one week. Johnson recommends freezing your stock in evenly portioned ziplock bags to help save space in the freezer.

Recipes

Johnson shared two different stock recipes, including recipes for both a light and dark stock, and a soup recipe.

Chicken Stock

Chicken bones from one whole chicken 2 onions, roughly chopped ½ head of celery, roughly chopped 6 carrots, roughly chopped 6 stems of thyme 2 bay leaves 1 tsp. black peppercorns Put all ingredients in a large pot and cover with water. On medium to low heat, slowly bring the water to a light simmer. Make sure no more than one or two bubbles per second come to the surface. Cook for 3-4 hours. Skim any foam that comes to the surface over time. Strain the stock through as fine a strainer as possible and cool. Once the stock has cooled, any remaining fat should float to the top. Remove the fat, keeping or discarding as desired.

Beef Stock

5 pounds beef bones ½ pound roughly chopped onions ¼ pound roughly chopped celery ¼ pound roughly chopped carrots 15 stems of thyme 6 bay leaves 2 tbsp. black peppercorns Lightly dressing the bones with your choice of oil, roast at 350 degrees until the bones are almost golden brown. Add the onions, celery and carrots and roast for 10 more minutes. Add all bones and mirepoix to a stock pot with remaining ingredients and cover with water. On medium to low heat, slowly bring the water to a light simmer. Make sure no more than one or two bubbles per second come to the surface. Cook for 12-36 hours. Skim any foam that comes to the surface over time. Strain the stock through as fine a strainer as possible and cool the stock. Once the stock has cooled, any remaining fat should float to the top. Remove the fat, keeping or discarding as desired.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

2 quarts diced chicken breast (or leftover) 1 quart celery, medium diced 3 tbsp. garlic, minced 1 quart red onion, medium diced 2 28 oz. cans of diced tomatoes, canned 2 quarts chicken stock 2 tbsp. Tabasco sauce 2 tbsp. cayenne powder ½ tbsp. coriander, ground 1 tbsp. cumin, ground ½ tbsp. oregano, dried ½ tbsp. basil, dried 1 tsp. red chili flakes Salt to taste Sear chicken in a large pot with your choice of oil. (Skip this step if you are using leftovers). Add celery, garlic and onions and cook until translucent. Deglaze with canned tomatoes. Stir thoroughly to prevent any burned pieces from sticking to the bottom or sides. Add remaining ingredients and lightly season with salt. Bring to a boil and simmer for 1-2 hours. Season to taste again before serving (tastes even better if you cool it down and serve it the next day).

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