Stock is often used as a basis for making soups, gravies and sauces. It is an effective way to add rich, low-fat flavor to dishes that call for broth. Making your own stock also allows you to control the amount of salt (many store-bought broths are high in sodium).
By substituting stock for water in recipes, you can inject a tasty boost into everyday foods like rice and pasta. And you can cut fat and calories by using stock, instead of butter or oil, for sauteing.
To make a batch, simply put meat/bones, vegetables and seasonings in a stockpot or soup kettle and add cold water. Bring the mixture to a boil slowly, then reduce heat to a simmer. As the stock cooks, skim the foam off the top with a slotted spoon to prevent the liquid from clouding.
When it's done, strain the stock; quickly cool it by ladling into smaller containers (if left out too long in a warm kitchen, stock can spoil). Refrigerate. The next day, remove any remaining fat from the surface of the stock. The firm layer on top can easily be lifted off with a spoon. Store in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days…or in the freezer for up to 6 months.
Peppercorns and a handful of herbs add the perfect seasoning to this low-sodium Homemade Chicken Stock developed by our Test Kitchen home economists. To give it even more flavor, they first browned the chicken and sauteed the veggies.
This satisfying Italian Chicken Soup (shown above right) gets its Italian flair from fennel, thyme, basil and orzo pasta. If you don't start with a low-sodium or sodium-free stock, advises our Test Kitchen staff, you might want to decrease the amount of salt called for in the recipe.