3

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.

  • 3
    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. – Vince Bowdren Dec 9 '13 at 12:33
  • I'd recommend split trotters. (feet cut in half vertically), but you might need to either find a real butcher that works with whole carcasses (ie, not just getting primals and slicing those up) or an international market. (and the international markets don't always have the greatest prices on these vs. butchers, as they're wanted by peope to try to recreate specific dishes, vs. just considered 'trash' cuts.) And you can always add some smoked paprika in there to get some smoke. – Joe Sep 4 at 16:31
11

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.

3

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.

  • 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
  • I have never been particularly happy with the results when using liquid smoke, so I'd go with one of the other methods, personally. – PoloHoleSet Nov 28 '16 at 20:46
2

What you are looking for is cuts or parts that are high in connective tissue and other collagen sources, like cartilage.

If you are looking at meat cuts, something like the shoulder has a lot of the tendons, ligaments and connective tissues. That's why that cut would be horrible with faster cooking methods, like grilling on a hot grill, but does great with lower temperature slow-cooking methods, that break down the collagen from the meat tissues. Another advantage is that these "tougher" cuts are cheaper than the ones with more "uninterrupted" muscle meat.

I think pork knuckles/ham hocks are specifically made for this purpose. That's the equivalent in human anatomy to the ankle - the joint that connects the foot/hoof to the leg.

2

The best way to make a good stock is using bones. Ideally, that's all you want to use to make your stock. The gelatinous stock comes from collagen and the best way to get any of that is to use bones. The best way I've found to do it is to make stock with all the bones left over after you've eaten ribs. Recently, I made 2 full racks of baby back ribs, and the meat was tender enough to just pull out the bones after cooking. I took the bones in a pot, filled it with water up to just a few inches above the bones, and simmered for 8 hours. Of course, I was making a basic stock so I had a mirepoix and stuff, but that's the base of how to get the gelatinous stocks. You can season it how you like. Afterwards, strain it and you'll have a beautiful stock. Remember, a simmer is not a boil. You want to see the water moving inside, but if you see bubbles coming up, turn down the heat a few degrees until you get there. Keep adding water until the stock has simmered for the full 8 hours. For chicken, 3-4 hours is good and for beef, 10-12 hours is good. It's all different but to sum it all up, use the bones.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.