"I cannot emphasize this enough. You will never regret the effort you take to make your own homemade stock."
--Chuck Taggart, author of The Cajun and Creole Recipe Page (gumbopages.com)

It took me a long time to jump on the homemade stock bandwagon. I had read in all the books and magazines how I should make my own stock, how easy stock-making was, and how it would improve my soups, stews, and gumbos. I read about it being amongst the kitchen basics, one of those things they teach the newest of the newbies at cooking school. Still, I wasn't convinced. I was having good enough luck with plain old water or bouillon cubes.

Then one day I made the stock. It was right after Thanksgiving, and I had a turkey carcass. I thought, why not? I'll try a stock and see what happens. I didn't have a turkey stock recipe, but I did have a number of examples of chicken stock. I picked one, substituting turkey for chicken. Oh! My!

Ever since I have been hooked. It is true that stock-making is easy and enjoyable, but I had no idea how much better the final results would be. Nowadays, I usually make stock once a week and freeze the excess. I have made stocks from turkey, beef, and ham, but the stocks most commonly simmering on my stove on any given weekend are chicken, vegetable, and lamb.

Lamb is a meat that isn't very common, at least not in my part of the world. While local restaurants will sometimes offer lamb chops or leg of lamb, I haven't found the dishes all that impressive. On the other hand, I make a lot of lamb because we raise a few lambs every year, and I've been pleased with my own results. We've chosen lamb over beef primarily because I can still wrangle a 100-pound lamb, whereas I have no chance at all against an 800-pound steer. Lamb works well as a red meat main course, and ground lamb substitutes nicely for ground beef in dishes like lamb and black bean enchiladas. Raising our own lamb makes the meat affordable as well; supermarket prices for lamb and mutton are out of our price range.

Stock made from lamb goes well with lamb-based dishes like lamb and barley stew. It also can be used most anywhere veal stock would normally be used, although the lamb stock is generally less rich, less "meaty", than its beef counterpart. One of the nicest surprises I've found with lamb stock is the way it compliments sweet dishes like lentils with golden raisins. Any of the Middle Eastern foods which mix legumes with dried fruits like dates come out extremely well when cooked in lamb stock.

Whatever kinds of soups and stews normally grace your table, I hope one made with lamb stock will be among them soon.



Preheat the oven to 450°F. Set the bones in a roasting pan and let them roast in the oven for about 40 minutes, turning them once or twice. This should let them brown nicely. Watch to make sure they don't burn.

Take some of the dripping from the bones, about 2 tablespoons, and heat it in your stock pot. Add the onion, celery, and carrot, and sauté for about ten minutes, until the onions begin to go limp. Add the garlic, and cook for another minute, then add the bones, parsley, thyme, bay leaves, peppercorns, and wine. Fill the rest of the stock pot with cold water. Bring this all to a boil, then immediately reduce it to a simmer. Let it simmer like this for about four hours.

When the cooking is done, strain the stock and discard the bones and vegetable remnants. Set the stock in the refrigerator overnight. Extra fat will congeal on top. Scrape this off and discard. The stock is now ready to be used. I like to store mine in freezer bags, measuring it out in two-cup servings. That way I don't have to measure again for my recipes. This should keep in the freezer for a couple of months, but mine is always incorporated into dinner long before that.

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