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Making stock from scratch

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There's nothing more comforting and delicious than a fresh, home-cooked meal. Many people are intimidated by the thought of making a meal from scratch, but if you learn a few simple techniques, cooking at home can be both easy and fun.

One of the first things that any good cook needs to learn is how to make a stock from scratch. Stocks- whether it be vegetable, fish, chicken, or any other type- are the base for thousands of soups, sauces and dishes that you can easily make at home. Buying premade stocks from the grocery store can be tempting, and in some cases worth it, but if you want a dish that tastes fresh and homemade, there is absolutely no substitute for fresh stock.

There are dozens of methods used to make stock, but for maximum flavor and richness, you'll want to make a roasted bone stock. For this article, a chicken will be used as demonstration, but this technique can be done with just about any small animal, such as rabbit, turkey, quail, duck, or fish, and with the bones of larger animals such as beef and pork bones.

To start, preheat an oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Layer the bottom of a roasting pan with a mixture of chopped carrots, celery and onion and drizzle them with olive oil. place you chicken on top of the vegetables, season it well with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Put your chicken in the oven and roast it until the skin is golden brown.

Once your chicken is cooked, remove it from the oven and allow it to cook until you can touch it comfortably. Using gloves, remove all of the meat from the bones and set it aside for another use such as making soup from your finished stock or making chicken sandwiches. Transfer the bones into a large pot along with the roasted vegetables and any drippings from the roasting pan.

Add a few thyme branches and cover everything with cold water. It is important that you do not season your stock with any salt or pepper at this stage, because as your stock cooks it will reduce and become overly salty.

Bring the water to a bare simmer and allow it to cook for three to five hours. If your water boils, the stock will become cloudy, and clear stock has a smoother, cleaner taste. Once your stock is finished cooking, strain it through a fine mesh strainer and allow it to cool before refrigerating.

It really is that simple. You can use your homemade stock as a base for soups, sauces, pasta dishes, and more. Replace the water for cooking grains such as rice or quinoa with stock to add a rich, hearty flavor or boil some tortellini in your stock for a quick, delicious soup. Now that you know this valuable technique, you're on the road to a delicious life of home-cooked, fresh, seasonal meals.

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