Stocks are the flavor building blocks of the wild kitchen. In addition, they often play a role as a base flavor, flavor layer, braising liquid, seasoning, or sauce for a dish. Also, stocks and broths become the hero liquid in virtually any savory soup dish. Think Vietnamese pho, French bouillabaisse, Mediterranean fish soup, or Italian cioppino, Greek kakavia.
As hunters and gatherers we have so many animals and plants to choose from, and limitless opportunities to make these savory liquids from the harvest we bring home from the field. Though the reasons to do so are endless, but here are five of the most obvious:
ONE: Homemade stocks and broth minimize waste by using every scrap of meat and fresh produce that comes through the kitchen.
TWO: These homemade savory liquids made in bulk can be frozen for future use.
THREE: High quality meals with deep and pleasant savory taste cannot be cooked without the depth and complexity that homemade stocks deliver. Bouillon cubes and grocery store broths in boxes or cans pale in comparison.
FOUR: Natural stocks are nutrient-dense and contain minerals that people buy as dietary supplements in pill form. Calcium, magnesium, glucosamine, amino acids, chondroitin all occur naturally in homemade stocks utilizing animal bones. Best of all, they are far cheaper and absorbed into the body much more effectively when consumed naturally.
FIVE: A complete absence of ingredients such as, monosodium glutamate, hydrolyzed soy protein, autolyzed yeast extract, disodium inosinate and guanylate, and other sketchy and potentially dangerous additives found in store bought bullions and broths.
Once you have made your broths, use your stockpile in place of water when cooking rice and grains, or when creating roux, gravies, stuffings, stratas, braising a wild game stew, or as broth for game bird soup. Using homemade stock in our wild game kitchens is an extension of trekking into the field and packing out the meat we eat. It represents one more step forward in eliminating mass produced, highly processed, unhealthy foods from our diets, replacing instead with real food that is delicious and nutritious.
Here’s my recipe for wild rabbit stock. I’ve used it to make a creamy parmesan and asparagus risotto, wild turkey noodle soup, and smoked rabbit strata.
Wild Rabbit Stock
Carcass and meat scraps of one be-boned wild rabbit
1 small shallot
2 sprigs thyme
2 sage leaves
2 or three celery tops
½ cup white wine
splash of vinegar(reacts with carcass to extract calcium from the bones)
Water to cover
Place ingredients in a pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer. The longer you cook, the richer and more flavorful it becomes. When ready, strain into a bowl and set in the refrigerator until any fat rises. Skim off fat and reserve stock in covered containers for immediate use, or freeze to stockpile!