One thing you can do to amp your kitchen credibility quickly is learning to make stock–a flavorful cooking liquid that forms the base of many soups, sauces, and other recipes. Making homemade stock from venison bones or bird carcasses not only give your favorite dishes, such as the duck pho in the photo, a flavor boost, but you’ll be get every last scrap of use from your bird or game animal.
The stock making process starts with a scrap bag–a gallon-size Ziploc kept in the freezer that collects the trimmings from onions, carrots, celery and other vegetables. (Of course, you can also make stock with fresh ingredients, but this method is kind of like saving your pennies for a rainy day.) A simple stock can be made by adding the ingredients of the scrap bag into a pot with the leftover carcass from a pheasant, grouse, duck, or goose, deer leg bones or other game scraps, covering everything with water and letting it simmer for a short period of time, say 30 minutes to an hour. However, with just a couple more steps and a bit more time (mostly unattended), you can achieve a richer, fuller flavor by roasting the scraps before soaking them.
Here’s a recipe for pheasant stock, but you could easily substitute the pheasant carcass for just about any game bird or whole or cut leg bones from deer, elk, moose, and other venison.
Pheasant Stock Recipe
– Pheasant carcass or assorted pheasant bones
– 1 cup each of celery, carrot, and onion scraps
– Assorted herbs, including thyme, parsley, and rosemary
– 1 bay leaf
– 12 cups water (or enough to cover pheasant)
1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place the pheasant bones and vegetables in Dutch oven or heavy, ovenproof stock pot. Place the uncovered pot in the oven and roast for 30 minutes, or until ingredients are browned.
2. Move the pot to the stovetop set the heat to medium-high and add a few cups of water, scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen any browned bits. Cover the pheasant and vegetables with the remaining water, add the herbs and the bay leaf and raise the heat.
3. When the water just starts to boil, remove any scum that has risen to the top. Lower the heat and cover the pot. Simmer slowly for at least 1 hour; two is even better.
4. After a few hours, remove the pot from the heat and let it cool slightly. Remove the bones and vegetables with a slotted spoon and discard. Pour the stock through a cheesecloth-lined strainer or other fine sieve.
You can let the stock sit overnight in the fridge and skim any hardened fat from it the next day, though, with lean birds like pheasants, this generally isn’t necessary.
Stock can be stored for up to a week in the refrigerator or several months, covered, in the freezer.