With Earth Day happening this past Friday, I've been thinking about ways I can reduce my waste, specifically kitchen waste. I try to be organized and mindful when shopping, but sometimes produce still goes bad at the back of my fridge before I can use it. For any carrots, parsnips, celery, onions, and fresh herbs that are past their peak, I'll throw them in the freezer and make stock. Any vegetable that's not starchy can be used in stock. Save your carrot tops and celery leaves, they have so much flavor. You can also save and include chicken carcasses from a cooked chicken. If you butterfly a chicken, save the backbone and use that as well.
Homemade chicken stock is one of my favorite ingredients. I use it in everything from soups and pasta dishes to sauces. Boiling vegetables in stock is a great way to enhance the flavor. Ina Garten is infamous for calling for "good" chicken stock in her recipes. I add red pepper flakes, Herbes de Provence, ginger, and lemon juice and drink it as a hot beverage. It's savory and satisfying. While making stock is more involved than buying it, the extra effort is more than worth it. Your kitchen will also smell amazing while it simmers away on your stovetop.
The first time I made Ina Garten's stock, I followed the recipe exactly - meaning that I purchased three whole chickens from my grocery store. My mom came home to find me trying to fit everything into her largest pot. (Unsuccessfully, I'll add.) It was a disaster and we still laugh about it.
I have included suggested quantities but you do not need to follow this recipe exactly. I make stock about every 3 months and just use whatever I have accumulated in my freezer. Every batch has turned out perfectly, regardless of the quantities of veggies. I don't add any salt. If you don't have a large stockpot, third the following recipe and put everything in your largest pot and simmer for only 3 hours.
Makes 6 quarts
3 onions, unpeeled and quartered
6 carrots, unpeeled, halved
4 parsnips, unpeeled, halved
4 celery stalks with leaves, cut into thirds
Fresh dill, about 20 sprigs
Fresh thyme, about 15 sprigs
Fresh parsley, about 20 sprigs
1 head garlic, unpeeled, cut in half crosswise
2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns
Add all ingredients to a 16-20 quart stockpot. Add enough water to completely submerge everything. Bring to a boil and simmer uncovered for 4 hours. Once cool enough to handle, strain the entire contents of the pot through a colander, discarding the solids. (Remove the larger pieces from the stockpot with tongs first.) I like to strain a second time through a mesh sieve while pouring into plastic quart and pint containers. Chill overnight. The next day, remove any fat that rose to the surface (don't skip this step). Use immediately or freeze for up to 3 months.
I used some of my recent stock batch to make risotto. Ina Garten's spring green risotto tastes bright and fresh. Fennel, green peas, asparagus, lemon, and mascarpone are added to a classic risotto base. I previously shared this recipe for an Italian-inspired dinner (see that post here). Risotto is so versatile. You can add any vegetables you want. If you have a local farmers market, see what produce they have. (That's another great way to be more environmentally sustainable - shop local.)
Get the Recipe: Barefoot Contessa Spring Green Risotto
I'm curious, how do you try to reduce your environmental impact? I'd love to hear any tips on things you do in your own kitchen.
As always, thanks for reading!