Using broth or stock instead of water can make an enormous difference in the flavour of your cooking. If you do not regularly cook with broth then you don’t know what you’re missing. It can give an otherwise bland food a richness and depth of both flavour and colour that it would not have otherwise. Today I’m going to show you how to always have broth ready, without spending hours simmering ingredients on the stove, or buying those bland cartons of ready-made broth at the grocery store.
Broth or Stock?
Broth and stock are usually used interchangeably, but there are some subtly differences. And occasionally, you may want to use one or the other. Both are made by cooking meat products, and often vegetables in water. Generally, stock is always made with bones, is usually unseasoned and cooked for hours, while broth is made with meat, often seasoned and cooked in much less time. But for the average person, like myself, making meals for my family, it doesn’t usually matter to me whether I am using broth or stock.
Broth – It’s not just for soup!
What do I use broth for? Typically I use broth in place of water for a bigger punch of flavour. Most often I use it in soups, rice & grains, pastas, beans & lentils, stir fries, for braising and for making gravies. I am not a chef, and I do not like to spend enormous amounts of time in the kitchen if I can help it, and I don’t always do things the official, proper way. Nevertheless, these methods will give your recipes with a punch of flavour. Plus they’re easy and time saving recipes. The following two methods are for those of us who do not want to go to the trouble of making broth:
NOTE: In order to save time I do not usually use precise measurements in my recipes. I do not think there is any one right or wrong way to do things when cooking.
Natural Cooking Liquids – Don’t throw that juice away! Save the juices that come out of meats when you cook them. Often when you bake or roast meat, there is a certain amount of liquid that collects in the pain. Instead of throwing it away, pour into a container, skim fat if necessary, and refrigerate or freeze. Adding a bit of water to your meat to begin with will yield larger quantities. This way you will have a supply of broth, ready to use in your next recipe. Bear in mind, the flavour of spices will come through with this method. This is by far, my favourite method for broth as it does not require any extra effort for me to make. Note: Sometimes these liquids gel as they cool. There’s nothing wrong with this. Reheating will again, turn them into liquid form.
The flavour of using liquids from meat you have cooked yourself, with the kinds of spices you use all the time, tastes so much better than any broth you buy from the supermarket.
Instant Vegetable Stock
Like my instant broth method, the instant vegetable stock method involves saving the liquid of vegetables that you’re already making anyway, and storing it in the fridge or freezer for another recipe. The key to this method is to use a minimal amount of water when cooking the vegetables to begin with to maximize flavour.
But what if you want to make broth from scratch?
If you’re a little more ambitious, and specifically want to make broth, or have a larger amount on hand, simply simmer any combination of bones, meat and vegetables for at least an hour, strain, and refrigerate or freeze. I like to use whole chicken carcasses. If you brown the bones first, you will get a darker, richer broth. You can always incorporate meat back in. This is especially good for soups and stews.
If I sound vague about exact amounts that’s because there is no right or wrong way to do this. It usually comes down to what you have on hand. Use your favourite vegetables, for example: carrots, celery, onion, leeks, parsnips, tomatoes, peppers and turnips.
Make Broth With the Instant Pot
The Instant Pot is another fast way to make broth from scratch. The beauty of using the Instant Pot is that you can simply set the timer and walk away. Don’t have an Instant Pot? I’ve written a blog post about this amazing little appliance!
Instant Pot Broth: Fill pot half full with bones. Add vegetables. Add enough water to cover, keeping the contents at least an inch below the max line. Add salt and seasonings if you prefer. Seal and set to manual for 120 minutes. Let depressurize naturally.
How do you make your broth? What vegetables and spices do you use? Let me know in the comments.