9 Essential Stocks, Plus 1 Totally Weird One We Dare You to Make

At this point, you've seen a few recent, breathless write-ups about bone broth (including our own Bone Broth Primer), the hot "new" thing in food. It's Paleo, it's now, and it is so cool folks are drinking it out of paper cups like it's coffee! Those crazy kids. Because we know you like to keep up with these cutting-edge food trends, we've gathered up the essential stocks you must know how to make, or else.

1. Basic Turkey Stock

Shame on you if your freezer isn't packed with the carcasses of birds you roasted over the holidays. This is the perfect turkey stock to reward such hoarding. Just one thing: If you fried your turkey, don't bother. How to Roast author Michael Ruhlman says fried turkey bones impart a fried-but-not-in-a-good-way flavor to the stock.
Photo and recipe from CHOW

2. Basic Chicken Stock

When we say basic, we don't mean bland, predictable, "The Notebook is my favorite movie of all time" basic. This is simple, sharp-chef's-knife, foundation-of-cooking basic. But if you want to ramp it up a little, go ahead and work it into the full Roasted Chicken Broth with Scallops and Chives recipe here.
Photo and recipe from CHOW

3. Beef Stock

Here's the thing about beef stock: Straight out of the pot, it can smell funky and taste bland. That's the thing with stock—it's just the start of a bigger recipe. And, compared to the commercial stuff in a box (or worse, a cube), homemade beef stock will make your classic French onion soup or beef bourguignon legendary. We love the Cooking Geek's approach, particularly the bit about slathering the bones in tomato paste before roasting. If you want to maximize all of those bone broth health benefits you've been reading about, add up to 1/4 cup of any vinegar (apple cider, white wine, malt) per 4 quarts of water. It won't affect the flavor, but vinegar "helps extract minerals from the bone and vegetables, even when diluted with water," writes Sally Fallon Morell in Nourishing Broth: An Old-Fashioned Remedy for the Modern World (2014).
Photo and recipe from The Cooking Geek

4. Fish Stock

The good news about a classic fish stock: It doesn't require hours of simmering to produce a flavorful brew. The flesh and bones break down quickly, and if you simmer it too long, other ingredients in the stock may actually turn bitter. Tenney Flynn, chef-owner of GW Fins in New Orleans, offers these fish stock tips:
* Don't sauté the mirepoix, and add it to the stockpot first, along with a bouquet garni, before piling the fish bones on top. Stacking the ingredients this way keeps the smaller bits on the bottom, which makes the stock easier to skim.
* If the fish smells bad, your stock will, too. Use the bones and heads of fresh, lean fish, such as red snapper and grouper. Avoid salmon, tuna, swordfish, and other oily varieties. Clean the fish well and remove the gills.
* Fill the stockpot with bones—at least 1 to 2 pounds per quart of water, but the more the merrier.
* Bring the stock to a gentle simmer over medium heat, let it simmer for 10 minutes, then turn the heat off. Cover the stockpot and let it sit for an hour before straining.
Photo from Diamond Tooth Taxidermy

5. Shrimp & Lobster Seafood Stock

Fair warning: You may end up guzzling most of this heady seafood stock before it makes it into a dish like seafood risotto or bouillabaisse, or this ridiculous Frogmore stew from Chef Hugh Acheson. Recipe courtesy of Tenney Flynn, chef-owner of GW Fins in New Orleans.

1 tablespoon butter
1 cup diced onions
1/2 cup diced celery
1/2 cup diced carrots
1/2 cup chopped fennel, or 1/4 teaspoon crushed fennel seeds
2 pounds shrimp heads and shells
1 whole lobster shell
1 pound lean fish bones (red snapper, grouper)
1 bay leaf
1 sprig fresh thyme
5 peppercorns, crushed
4 tablespoons brandy
4 tablespoons white wine
2 cups strained canned plum tomato juice
8 cups water

Melt the butter in a large stockpot set over medium heat and add the onions, celery, carrot, and fennel. Wilt the vegetables until they are soft, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the seafood shells, and increase the heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until the raw shrimp shells are pink.

Add the fish bones, bay leaf, thyme, and peppercorns. Deglaze pan with brandy and reduce until the liquid has evaporated. Add the white wine, tomato juice, and water. Bring the stock to a simmer, then slightly decrease the heat to maintain a low, gentle simmer for one hour. Remove from heat and allow the stock to cool to room temperature before straining. As you strain, mash the shells and vegetables to release more liquid.
Photo from Fine Cooking

6. Roasted Veal Stock

Michael Ruhlman nails it when he calls this "the selfless stock." A great veal stock is never the star of a dish; it is the unsung hero—the ingredient you don't even know is there because its job is to make every other ingredient shine. Ruhlman's recipe is curious for listing water by the pound in the ingredients, but that's Ruhlman's thing: recipes by ratios. This one is easily doubled or tripled, and it's best to just follow the instructions: Use enough water to cover the bones.
Photo and recipe from Ruhlman

7. Basic Vegetable Broth

Vegetarians need not feel left out because bone broth is having its moment. A flavorful veggie broth is just as essential to any cook's arsenal.
Photo and recipe from CHOW

8. Easy Mushroom Broth

This is what you call a meaty vegetarian broth. Completely free of animal, but packed with that sexy fifth taste, umami. If you want over-the-top mushroom flavor (to use in lieu of chicken broth in a dish like wild mushroom risotto), toss in 1/2 cup to 1 cup of dried mushrooms that have been soaked for 30 minutes and strained. Check out Fine Cooking's primer on the flavor profile of different dried mushrooms.
Photo and recipe from CHOW

9. Awase Dashi

Dashi is the chicken stock of Japanese cuisine: an essential building block in countless recipes, including miso and oyakodon, the ultimate Japanese comfort food. There are vegetarian versions (kombu dashi, shiitake dashi), but start with this classic, three-ingredient wonder.
Photo and recipe from Just One Cookbook

Bonus: Doritos Consommé with Shrimp, Smoked Corn, and Cilantro

Sure, you could laugh this one off as gimmicky and overinvolved, but then you wouldn't be slurping Cool Ranch Dorito consommé and wishing you'd made a triple batch. Do it, and thank us later.
Photo and recipe from CHOW; header image from LAOC Food

Colleen Rush is a food and travel writer who eats, drinks, cooks, and writes mostly in New Orleans, but also ... everywhere else. She is the author of "The Mere Mortal's Guide to Fine Dining" (Broadway Books, 2006), and coauthor of "Low & Slow: Master the Art of Barbecue in 5 Easy Lessons" (Running Press, 2009) and the upcoming "Low & Slow 2: The Art of Barbecue, Smoke Roasting, and Basic Curing" (Running Press, 2015). Follow her on Twitter or Instagram.

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