Taking stock

A well-made stock has the potential to catapult your cooking to the next dimension, simultaneously utilising the vegetable drawer/allotment glut and giving you a warm glowy feeling inside as the summer sun fades into a distant memory.

square food foundation for web-21

This a general guide to all stocks; fish, meat and vegetable

Stock vegetables: The following ingredients are suitable for stock: onions, carrots, celery, leeks, fresh tomatoes – not too much – French bean or other trimmings -  fennel but only in a vegetable or fish stock – thyme, bay, rosemary – but not too much – garlic – always, perhaps asparagus trimmings, pea pods and carrot leaves in the summer.…… Never put the following ingredients in a stock: brassica, starchy vegetables, fines herbes (tarragon, etc.) or any vegetables which haven’t been properly washed or are turning brown. Stocks are best made with an accumulation of carefully looked after, refrigerated vegetable trimmings.

square food curry masterclass for web-4

For a meat stock, roast off the bones (unless they are left over from roast or otherwise cooked meat) and throw them into a pan with the vegetables and enough water to cover well. Bring to a rolling but gentle simmer. You will never get a good stock if you let it boil. As the stock cooks, the fat and other impurities will rise to the surface. Skim them off religiously every so often until the liquid looks clear. You can now either put it in the oven (on the floor of the oven) at about 110oC or gas mark 3 for about 5 hours, or simmer it on top: blip…….blip……blip….. very slow.

For a fish stock, put the washed bones, cleaned heads, fish bits and frames together with vegetables and water as above. Bring to a gentle simmer as above. Skim religiously as above.

A vegetable stock, not having the flavour benefits of meat and fish, needs to contain lots of vegetables. To get a good soup, stock base or risotto stock, I would use two heads of celery, 6 carrots a bulb of garlic and 3 or 4 leeks……

square food curry masterclass for web-45

To strain the stocks: pass through a colander and then through a fine sieve to remove any bits.

Learn to cook the perfect stock and delicious vegetable dishes with Barny: 12 Vegetable Dishes to Change Your Life