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It's that time of year, bean soup and split-pea soup are winter favorites of mine. I don't really care if the soups contain actual meat chunks, but I find the flavor absolutely essential to the soups. I also love what the gelatin does for the mouth feel. I've always been very happy to get such a broth as a by-product of cooking pork, but I've never set out to make pork broth. If I could afford all the bacon I could ever want it would be problem solved. Alas, I cannot. What products should I be looking for, and what techniques might be helpful with those perhaps less familiar products? I have all the time in the world, but not much money.

Edit: Specifically, I'd like especially to know about cuts that you might recommend. Of course I'm familiar with loin, ham and belly, but less so with neck, feet and jowls - that kind of thing. My local grocery occasionally has smoked neck. When I've seen it I wasn't thinking pork stock/broth at the time so I didn't really look at it or the price. But now that I want broth, I wonder about the lesser known (to an American) cuts. There are a few local butchers that might bag up "stuff" for me, if I knew enough to know what to ask for. Smoked products might be preferred (I like the smoky taste in bean soup and that's specifically why I would make such a broth) but I could always add at least some smoked product to the actual soup.

For what it's worth, "broth" or "stock" has always been a rather meaningless distinction to me. Is it liquid that adds the flavor of the meat to whatever I'm making? That's what I'm looking for.

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The surprising thing is that the cheaper the cut of meat, the better for stock-making. Don't use lean tender bone-free cuts such as bacon; instead buy bony off-cuts such as trotters, or the femur which is left over after the butcher has boned out a leg joint. –  vincebowdren Dec 9 '13 at 12:33
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2 Answers

Good home-made stock is easy and cheap to make. All you need is an old stock pot (no lid needed, you want the water to evaporate), and a bunch of pork bones and connective tissue. The bones will add the pork flavor, while the connective tissue will break down into gelatin.

The best way to get the pot is a thrift store (charity shop to UK types), and the best way to get the bones is to make friends with a butcher - they often have loads of bones and connective tissue that go into the garbage and are happy to sell it dirt cheap.

To make the stock all you need to do is add the bones and connective tissue to the pot with enough water to cover them completely, and cook it down for hours and hours. Many chefs would recommend adding stock vegetables like onions and carrots at the beginning, and straining them out after an hour. After a few hours you'll have all the good stuff out of the bones and connective stuff, so strain them out and then simmer the stock until you have the consistency and flavor concentration you want. You can cook it down until it's a syrup if you want, although that takes a long time. You can then freeze it for months.

If the amount of gelatin you want isn't there you can simply add unflavored gelatin, it's very inexpensive and easy to use.

EDIT: As for smoke, I wouldn't add it in to your broth. You won't always want the smoky flavor and if you do it's easy enough to add some smoked pork or liquid smoke later if you do. Leaving it out gives you more flexibility later.

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I recently began using a pressure cooker for my stocks. I've found that in 45-90 minutes I can achieve the kind of flavor and mouth feel that you are describing. The pressure cooker is not just faster, I find it creates more flavorful stocks with a much better mouth feel. To achieve smoke flavor, you could smoke the pork bones and/or other stock ingredients...you can even smoke the water that you are going to use for the stock, use a smoked ham hock, or use a very small amount of liquid smoke.

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A pressure cooker is one of the few kitchen implements I've never owned. I've never even used one but I've heard how great they are for stock. Unfortunately smoking my own ingredients isn't an option either - small apartment, wicked cold outside :) –  Jolenealaska Dec 9 '13 at 0:28
    
Indoor smoker, these are reputed to work well: target.com/p/camerons-mini-stovetop-smoker/-/… –  SAJ14SAJ Dec 9 '13 at 4:17
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