Aromatics and stock

There are so many wonderful kinds of stock, from classic very pale, almost clear, extremely delicate chicken stock, essential in so many traditional French dishes, to the high art of stock as the base for ramen to hearty beef stock to all purpose stocks for many soups and lots of dishes. I make stock fairly regularly, including a very simple roasted vegetable stock. In a vegetable stock, with no protein to provide the fundamental flavor profile, the aromatics themselves make up that profile. I have found some strong tasting vegetables that might make for an interesting profile, things like asparagus, cabbage, or broccoli, but I keep them out of all purpose stock. My vegetable trimming bag usually has the usual onion, celery, and carrot, but it also has lettuce, mushroom, and tomato. Today it also has radish tops. What sorts of aromatics do you like (or dislike) to use in your various stocks? Also, on a fun digression, you obviously cannot make a demi glacé from vegetable stock since it has no gelatin, but you can still reduce and intensify it and use it much as you would a real demi. I highly recommend it. Also, although it is a far cry from a complex pork broth, I have found I can make a tasty ramen broth by taking basic roasted vegetable broth, spiking it with tamari and mirin, and adding sliced shiitakes and scallions, julienned carrots, and grated ginger. Ideas to amp it up further are welcomed.


This topic is similar to an earlier thread. For reference, the other one is about fond, not stock. You can get some ideas, just in case.

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We make stock whenever we roast a chicken, using the “standard” flavourings of carrot, onion, celery and whatever herbs are to hand. Vegetable slock gets made if we find we’ve veg that’s past its best for eating (although, more often, that becomes soup more often than stock).

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Yep. That was an excellent thread. I am just asking if anyone has found any other aromatics they liked, such as turnips, jicama, nopales, whatever.

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I think that it was you Tim that also mentioned roasted Brussels sprouts.

I have been known to use them in a stock that will be used for something like cream of broccoli soup or asparagus risotto. It adds a note that diners notice and like but just can’t place.

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Lately, I’ve been charring the cut face of an onion half (or two, depending on desired stock volume) and including that with the rest of the mirrepoix. It darkens the resulting stock, which I like for most things, and I think it deepens the flavor.

Have you tried adding plain gelatin to your vegetable stock? Not for vegans, maybe, but hey?

How about green peppers (sub for carrots in Holy Trinity)?

I have tried both green and red bell peppers and decided they did not taste that great (or bad) in stocks. As for adding a little gelatin, that would certainly be a great way to make a better faux demi, but I have never tried it. What I really love about demi is the concentrated flavor. The thicker texture is nice, but I find I get a decent texture simply by mounting the sauce with butter. I am decidedly not a vegetarian and would actually prefer the having real demi using veal bones around.

On aromatics, I am liking using some things outside the usual French onion, celery, carrots, and common herbs. I especially like tomato and mushroom but lately have enjoyed cores of various greens and leek tops. I am moving into things that bring more brightness. Turnips do that better than carrots.

Here’re Cajun versions of several stocks, a few of which omit carrots and/or sub leeks: I’ve also charred leeks the same way I do onions.

Have you tried Demi-Glace Gold?

Never tried it. Making demi is pretty easy. It just takes FFE.

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Easy, yes. You have an ample supply of affordable veal bones these days?

Besides the usual suspects onion, carrot, and celery, I often add fennel (Italian style), or leeks. I wouldn’t use things like cabbage, brussels sprouts or belgian endive - they will make the stock bitter. A good test if you want to include something is to just parboil it on its own for say five minutes, and then take a sip of the cooking water.

When you mentioned aromatics in the title I was thinking more about things like herbs - I will always use 1-2 fresh bay leaves, and also a bunch of flat leaf parsley.

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Absolutely yes on bay leaves and flat leaf parsley. I often get lazy on herbs and just use herbes de Provence. Tonight I made Lidia Bastianich’ salad of celery, fennel bulb, onion, hard salami, fennel frond, and citronette. I threw the fennel trimmings in my stock bag in the freezer. What other herbs do you use? To me thyme is the main one.

I can get them at Central Market.

That’s great, I have a Central Market near me. How much per pound do you pay for veal bones at yours?

I shall check next time. I do not go very often.

Great, thanks. How much do you buy for what volume?

The effective price per cup of veal demiglace has got to be high, yes?

I generally make stock in batches that finish as three quarts. Now and then to make demi I’ll either buy a couple of pounds of veal bones or better still save them from rib chops and toss them in with my usual beef ribs. Virtually all of my stocks are made from leftover bones from meals. Ditto for aromatics. It has been ages since I bought special ingredients to make stock, although I do buy specialized ingredients to eat, knowing that stock will follow. Maybe that is why I have come to use highly reduced vegetable stock with a vegetable based pseudo Espagnole to make a concentrated but not gelatinous reduction to use like demi. My biggest stock challenge has always been pork cuts with good soup bones, and necessity being the mother of invention I developed my vegetable stock based “cheating ramen.” It has been about five years since I made real ramen. The other night I even cheated on the noodles and used glass noodles. It was pretty tasty anyway.

The power company notified me that I’m going to have an outage tomorrow morning, 8AM till whenever, so they can replace some cables. I was wondering how I could keep the fridge from getting too warm, and hit on putting in big pots of water to cool down.

But wait! I had a two chicken-carcass equivalent bag of bones (chicken, BBQ ribs, lamb chops, pork) in the freezer. This morning I set two stock pots going on the stove, let them simmer for about four hours, and now they’re cooling down, and then into in the fridge tonight.

Best of luck.