Like most professional cooks, Stephan Juliusburger is bullish on stocks.
"I usually have seven or eight kinds on hand at home," says Mr. Juliusburger, who lives in Dallas, Texas. "I freeze them in ice cube trays, then store them in Ziploc bags -- a trick I learned from Heloise.
"When I cook, I just grab a couple of cubes."
He says stock cubes pay dividends in flavor when added to tomato sauces and gravies, even pasta dishes. "Brush concentrated stocks on roasting meats and meatloaf," he suggests. "Poach meats in light stocks for cold plates and salads."
Stocks for use as soup bases are frozen in larger containers, and sometimes Mr. Juliusburger combines flavors.
"There are a lot of great European soups that mix beef and chicken stocks," he says.
Mr. Juliusburger makes stock in big batches. "My theory is that stock is not something you want to make every week," he says. "I like to make enough to last awhile."
His recipe below makes almost 2 gallons. You can cut down the recipe proportionately, but plan to make a new batch before you run out completely.
"Add what you have left from the last batch to the new one," he says. "Your stocks will get fuller and richer over time."
Basic chicken stock
Makes 1 1/2 to 2
10 pounds chicken bones, breasts and backs (or 3 whole chickens, quartered)
3 medium carrots
4 stalks celery
2 medium leeks
1 medium onion
1 bulb garlic, halved (optional)
10 whole black peppercorns
4 bay leaves
1 tablespoon thyme
1 tablespoon basil
Rinse chicken under running water and place in stock pot.
Coarsely chop -- but do not peel -- the vegetables. Add to the pot with seasonings. (Do not add salt; it is unnecessary and, through reduction, could cause dishes stock is used in to taste salty.)
Cover all ingredients with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 4 to 5 hours. Do not stir; it will cause the stock to become cloudy and muddy the flavor.
Remove pot from heat. Use tongs or ladle to remove large solids, then strain liquid through a fine sieve. Discard vegetables and bones; if using quartered chicken, allow to cool slightly, then pull meat from the bone and save for use in soups, stew or salad.
For a lighter stock: For use in dishes where clarity is important, such as cream sauces and gravies, peel onion and carrots, remove celery leaves and use only the white part of leeks.
For a hearty, golden broth: Use only bones, not whole chickens. Before starting the stock, place bones and vegetables on a baking pan and roast in a 350-degree oven until golden brown, about 30 minutes. (Be careful not to burn the bones or vegetables; this will cause bitterness in the final product.) Drain off fat; proceed with the recipe.
For stocks from red meats: For beef or veal stocks, follow directions for the hearty golden broth, adding 1 small can of tomato paste. Since the bones are larger, the simmering time will need to be increased to extract all their flavor.
For storage: Always chill stocks quickly; it will add to their shelf life. The best way is to pour stock back into the rinsed pot and place in a sink filled with heavily iced water. Stir occasionally until stock is cooled to under 90 degrees (lukewarm); cover and refrigerate.
If using within 24 hours, skim fats from the top before chilling. For longer refrigeration (6 to 9 days), pour into convenient-size containers, making sure there is enough liquid fat in each container to fully cover the top. The fat will form a solid, airtight seal for the stock, sealing in freshness and keeping out bacteria.
To freeze, chill as directed, then place in refrigerator until fats solidify and can be removed. Pour stock into small containers or freeze in ice cube trays. After they are fully frozen, the cubes can be transferred to freezer bags and removed as needed.
Stock may also be reduced by slow-boiling before it is frozen. Cook until it reaches a concentrated flavor, color and texture, then pour into a baking pan to a depth of about 1 inch. Refrigerate until the stock forms a firm, gelatinous sheet. Unmold and cut into small cubes. Freeze on a cookie sheet, and store in a freezer bag for use in dishes where you don't want to add too much additional liquid, such as cream sauces or tossed pasta.