Making a stock is such a basic skill to have, yet it can translate to so many other dishes. Soups, sauces, stews, pie fillings – anything savoury can have its flavour boosted with a good stock.
But why should we bother making stock, you ask, when there are perfectly good bullion cubes and stock concentrates on the supermarket shelves? Firstly, these are often very high in sodium – although granted, you can get reduced salt stocks that can be quite flavourless – but there are also preservatives in store bought stocks/powders, they aren’t anywhere near as tasty, wouldn’t have as many nutrients and the big one… ONION.
I admit, you can now get onion and garlic free stock cubes – in Australia, at least, I haven’t seen them in the US at all – but, given all the health and flavour benefits of homemade stock, and seeing how easy it is to make, to me the choice is obvious. The only downside that I see is that our freezer is so small that we can’t make too much at once.
- Onion and garlic – the fructans are water soluble, so some will leach out into the stock water. Some can tolerate it, others can’t. You can easily omit the onion, though, as you get a lot of flavour from other ingredients.
- Meat/bones – use an entire chicken or fish carcass, including the wings and skin (great flavour and you can skim unwanted fat off later); alternatively, use soup or marrow bones (the same thing) typically from a cow but lamb shanks or pork hock will also work – whatever you can get a good price on, go with it.
- White wine vinegar can be replaced with white vinegar, apple cider vinegar etc. It helps to draw nutrients and flavours out of the bones and vegetables.
Stock Flavour Variations
These are only suggestions, you do not need to use all at once and of course, if you like a flavour that is not included here, go ahead and add it in.
- Chicken: onion, garlic, bay leaf, carrot, celery, chives, parsley, rosemary, sage, tarragon and thyme.
- Beef: onion, garlic, basil, bay leaf, carrot, celery, chives, ginger, mint, oregano, rosemary, tarragon and thyme. Red wine also goes well with beef.
- Lamb: onion, garlic, basil, bay leaf, carraway seeds, carrot, celery, coriander leaves (cilantro), coriander seeds, dill, marjoram, rosemary, sage and thyme.
- Pork: onion, garlic, bay leaf, carraway seeds, carrot, celery, cumin seeds, dill, fennel bulb, fennel seeds, rosemary, sage and thyme.
- Fish: onion, garlic, basil, bay leaf, carrot, celery, coriander leaves (cilantro), coriander seeds, fennel bulb, fennel seeds, ginger root, tarragon. White wine also goes well with fish/seafood.
Basic Meat/Bone Stock
- Carcass of the chicken/fish or 3-4 “soup”/marrow bones that are about 10 cm in length
- Optional – 1 onion, quartered
- Optional – 2 to 3 cloves of garlic, quartered
- 2 stalks of celery, cut into chunks
- 2 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
- 1 lug olive oil/cooking oil of your choice
- 2.0 L water
- 1 dash white wine vinegar
- Salt to taste
- Extras – for this chicken stock I used bay leaves, ground peppercorns, sage, rosemary, thyme
The following pictures were taken when I made a batch of chicken stock.
Heat the oil in your sauce pan and sear the bones, optional onion and garlic, celery and carrot until they have browned and a fond has developed on the bottom. The fond is the layer of brown that has stuck onto the base of the pot and it is a huge flavour bomb – just let this happen, because as soon as your pour in water, the layer will deglaze and dissolve, lending its flavours to the stock and amping up whatever dish you use the stock in.
Once a good fond has developed, after 5-10 minutes of frying the meat and vegetables, pour in 2 litres of water and add in any extras of your choice, then bring it to the boil. Let it boil for 2-3 minutes, and spoon off the scum that develops if you would like a clear broth. This is the blood boiling – not everyone likes it, as it can impart a bitter flavour and cloud a stock, but some do. Whatever you choose to do is okay.
Reduce the pot to a simmer and leave it for at least 45 minutes, preferably 2 hours. The longer the pot simmers, the more intense the flavour will be and the more nutrients will leach from the bones and vegetables into the stock liquid. When you are about to remove it from the heat, taste a little and adjust flavours as required to suit your palate.
Place a heat-proof sieve over a heat proof bowl (this stuff is boiling hot) and pour the contents of the sauce pan over the top. The sieve will catch the solid ingredients. Remove the sieve and its contents and either discard them or if you have dogs, pick out the boiled bones, carrots and celery and blend them into a nutritious puree that your pups will love. Onions have been shown to cause anaemia in dogs, so be careful to pick out only the bones, carrot and celery.
Once the stock has cooled, skim off any unwanted fat (this does contain flavour and nutritious substances as well but some either don’t like the taste, can’t tolerate the fat or are counting calories) and transfer the stock to a container to freeze right away if you won’t be using it in the next 1-2 days tops. Fish stock should be frozen if not being used within 24 hours. I like to freeze it in 2 cup measurements, as that is useful for makings soups and stews. Another idea is freezing it in ice cube trays, that way you can just flip them into a container and pick out as many as you like. Once thawed, the stock should be used within 24-48 hours or discarded – fish stock should only sit in the fridge for 24 hours.
Since this photo was taken, we have begun using glass jars instead of plastic to freeze our stocks. Freezing glass is risky but I am not comfortable with plastics potentially leaching chemicals into the liquids – BPA free plastic containers are safe but make sure that the stock is completely at room temperature when you fill them.
We have Pyrex and canning jars, which are freezer safe; just make sure to leave about 20% empty space at the top to allow room for expansion when the stock freezes, because glass can crack and shatter in the freezer if its contents expand too much – be warned! Of course, I am not telling you that you have to use glass jars, just that this is what we do. You can make up your own mind. 🙂
You can also follow the same principles to make a bone broth, which is full of nutrients and great for healing the gut – but I’ll cover that in another post.
Beans, beans, the musical fruit
The more you eat, the more you toot
The more you toot, the better you feel
So let’s have beans at every meal!
Before I say anything else I will say this, and then repeat it below; beans are legumes and contain galactooligosaccharides (GOS) – which is why they’re the musical fruit. GOS, however, are not fructans. If you are following a complete FODMAPs diet then this dish won’t be suitable but those who can tolerate GOS (galactans) in moderate amounts can give this a go. Okay, now on with the show.
I know I’ve said many times before that it’s Autumn and cold and that I want comfort food but I’ll say it again… and this time I needed it.
I normally have a great immune system but since I had gastritis in July this year and then we went vegetarian for two months, since scaled back to pescetarian, I have had three whopping, terrible colds and bacterial sinusitis as well. The sinusitis was inevitable, considering my family history but I have never felt so drained in my life – I went to the gym today for the first time in two weeks, a week ago I got dizzy walking the dogs for 2 km. Completely abnormal. Aside from finally visiting our doctor, I’ve actually brought red meat back into my diet a couple of times a week to try and increase my iron levels (fatigue can indicate low iron) even though they’ve always been perfect before. Iron supplements can be a little hard on the GI tract, so be careful if you’re looking into taking them.
As I’ve mentioned before, Ev and I are attempting to eat through as much of our food as possible before we buy more to both prevent wastage and to get rid of things that we bought and didn’t use. It’s going pretty well; after this meal we only have a can of refried beans, three cans of peas and 3 cans of raspberries in syrup left – and a hell of a lot of cheese. I think dinners are going to become ever more basic until we’re done from here on in.
- Beans are legumes, which are high in the FODMAP galactans. They are not high in fructans or fructose, so I can tolerate them.
- Many people have increased tolerance of beans if they are the dry variety and have been soaked for a day or two in water before use. This might be worth a try if you cannot tolerate the canned variety.
- Tomatoes are high in salicylates and can be an irritant to IBS, though they are not naturally high in fructose, the more processing and condensing that they have gone through, the more concentrated the sugars, and thus the fructose, will be. This recipe uses canned diced tomatoes, which are minimally processed. This is a good guide as to how to recognise safe or potentially unsafe tomato products.
- The onion and garlic with which you infuse the oil to begin with should not impart too many fructans to the meal, as fructans are water soluble, so should not dissolve in a lipid such as olive oil.
Baked Beans in Tomato Sauce
- 1 onion, quartered
- 2 cloves of garlic, slightly crushed if you can tolerate it
- 3 x 425 g/15 oz cans of Great Northern Beans, drained and rinsed
- 3 x 425 g cans of plain diced tomatoes
- 1 cup FF vegetable stock or 1 FF stock cube in 1 cup water
- 1 tbsp. fresh oregano leaves
- 1 tbsp. fresh thyme
- 1 tbsp. kosher salt
- 1 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
- 1 lug olive oil
- OPTIONAL – 1 cup diced mixed veggies like carrot and zucchini
Preheat the oven to 150 C/300 F and make sure you use a dish with an oven proof lid.
Saute the garlic and onion in the olive oil until fragrant and then remove them from the pot and discard. You can skip this step if you can’t tolerate even infused oils and add in a pinch of asafoetida powder instead, if you have it. Of course, if you can tolerate onion and garlic then go ahead and leave them in the pot. If you are adding in the optional veggies, you will need to cook them until they are soft enough to puree.
Add in the herbs, FF stock and the diced tomatoes and let it simmer for 5 minutes then use a hand blender to puree the lot; it shouldn’t take too long. Now you can add the beans, salt and pepper and combine everything thoroughly. Bring the pot to the boil, let it simmer for 10 minutes and then put the lid on and place it in the oven. Bake for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, stirring every 30 minutes or so. They’re not baked beans without being baked, right?
You can enjoy these as is, with some grated cheese on top, or as “beans on toast.” We like them any way we can get them.
I first made this chili last winter when Ev and I were practicing being vegetarians before my little sister came and stayed with us. We wanted to be able to cook interesting meals for her, rather than just feeding her salads. Rabbit food just isn’t satisfying during winter.
Since then, Ev has decided to switch back to a vegetarian diet. Considering that the weather is about to change, although you wouldn’t have guessed it from the grasp that summer is attempting to have on the weather over the last couple of days, this seemed like an appropriate recipe to dust off and make again. Hearty and nutritious – beans are a vegetarian source of protein, plus all the vitamins and minerals from the veggies – this stew really hits the spot on a cold night and makes an easy lunch for the next day.
- Being a chili, this recipe contains chickpeas (garbanzo beans), kidney beans and black beans. In total, these contain enough galacto-oligosaccharides to be problematic for someone who is sensitive to oligosaccharides – the O in FODMAPS. If you wanted to make this FODMAP safe, eliminate some or all of the beans and replace them with more of the safe veggies so it bulks up again. This would be the FODMAPs “safe” option, rather than the original recipe below.
- The fructans in onion and garlic are contained within the skin of the layers, so theoretically you should be able to fry them in the first stages of this recipe for flavour and then remove them afterwards and have no ill effect as the fructans content will be drastically reduced. If you are too sensitive even for that or simply don’t want to risk it, either omit the onion and garlic entirely or replace with asafoetida powder.
- Celery contains some mannitol; if you are sensitive, replace it with celeriac, which is low in all FODMAPs.
- Sweet corn can be problematic for some, eliminate it if it triggers your IBS.
- Adobo peppers are smoked jalapenos.
- You could sub in any sort of “chili powder” if you can’t find the cayenne or adobo peppers – just make sure you read the ingredients and look out for onion and garlic powders.
- 1/2 onion, diced if you can tolerate it or in quarters if you cannot.
- 3 cloves garlic, minced if you can tolerate it or halved if not. Alternatively, you can replace the garlic and onion with a 1/2 tsp. of asafoetida.
- 2-3 bay leaves
- 2 tbsp. dried oregano or 1 tbsp. fresh, minced
- 1 tbsp. ground cayenne pepper
- 2 tsp. ground cumin
- 1 tsp. ground adobo chili pepper
- 2 large celery stalks or equivalent celeriac, diced
- 2 large capsicums, diced – red or green
- 2-3 jalapeno peppers, diced and de-seeded if you don’t like too much spice; you could sub in 1 habanero if you really want to up the heat
- 2-3 green chile peppers, minced – de-seeding optional
- 3-4 x 28 oz/800 g cans of crushed tomatoes
- 1 x 15 oz/425 g can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 x 15 oz/425 g can chickpeas, drained
- 1 x 15 oz/425 g can black beans, drained and thoroughly rinsed
- 1 x 15 oz/425 g can corn kernels, drained – optional
- Salt and pepper to taste
Seal your pot and then fry the asafoetida/onion, garlic, bay leaves and spices for 15 minutes over a med-high heat. You can either leave the diced onion and garlic in after this if you can tolerate them, or if you cut them into thick slices then you can remove them at this point. As you can see, I have left them in.
Add in the chopped fresh vegetables and fry over a medium heat until they are well softened – another 15 minutes approximately. You do not need to keep stirring as long as you have sealed your pan properly. As there isn’t much protein in here yet, so the risk of sticking is minimal. Just make sure the heat is not so high that it will crisp everything to the bottom.
Add in the canned beans and corn – drained! – and the crushed tomatoes; 3 cans for a thicker chili and 4 if you like it runny. Season with salt and pepper and then bring it to the boil for 30 seconds before turning it down to a low heat and simmering for at least an hour before serving.
If you have time to think ahead, chili is best the second day – as are most stews – because the flavours have more time to combine and intensify.
If your chili hasn’t thickened as much as you’d like, a quick trick to thicken it up is to add a handful or two of crushed corn tortilla chips and continue to simmer for another 5-10 minutes. It’s a much quicker option than waiting up to an extra hour for the dinner that you want now!
Serve with natural sour cream or cheddar cheese and garnish with sliced green onions or coriander leaves. If you omitted the sour cream and cheese then this dish would be vegan as well.
Most importantly, dig in!