Pork Stock and Broth
The best kept secret you've never tried!
Introduction – Chicken – Pork – Beef
Pork Stock is what changed the game for me and the whole way I understood this process. Before I was only using the broth method, which is the traditional French way of making stock, or broth, or both. I’ve learned that the French only simmer everything because having a clear and beautiful looking broth that has some bone flavor was more important than the science behind how meat and bones break down differently. It was in my quest to learn how to make Tonkotsu Ramen soup that I learned that the bones and joints should be processed at high boiling temperatures while the meat and veggies should only be simmered.
The difference was immediately clear, or should I say opaque? The result was that my broth was still clarified and clean visually and my stock was very cloudy and murky, like a white gravy or a cream-based soup. Having an opaque and murky stock is not something you will see in traditional French cooking, but is the stuff of legend and highly prized in Japan.
We will be making a true standalone stock here as well as a fortified pork broth.
Alright, Let’s Go!
Pork Stock and Broth
The process is exactly the same for Pork as it is for chicken, but where the extra steps of doing multiple “washes” on the stock bones and broth components are more of an optional extra step with chicken, it is not with pork. The stock water will be much thicker and needs to be separated 2-3 times and reset to fully yield all that it has to offer.
The full reset and making a fortified broth at 48 hours is still optional, you don’t have to do two rounds of meat and veggies, but I would suggest going as far as committing all the meat to the process and not trying to pull it out early. Our local market sells family packs of thin pork chops for $5 so it isn’t a big deal for us to do the extra meat.
The recipe lineup for Pork Stock has more to it and it takes up a lot of space so I usually start with two cheap pots for boiling the stock half and one pot for simmering the broth half. My fourth burner is reserved for reducing strained broth down and by the time I need to be reducing strained stock, the two pots of stock I started with can all fit into one which frees up a burner for reducing the stock.
For pork stock and broth, I make a pretty big batch and this is my go-to stock for soups and sauces. It is a superior stock to chicken stock, has a much deeper flavor but is still transparent enough to be used with chicken dishes and not taste overly porky. For the broth, I always make a fortified pork broth and I’m starting to prefer this broth for soups. I first made it to make homemade Ramen and the stock component is the same for making Ramen, but the broth is flavored very differently. This broth recipe is following the same traditional French recipe as we used with the chicken broth, which makes the flavor profile easily adaptable and interchangeable with chicken broth. See the page on Ramen for the differences in that broth recipe. This batch is huge and starts as 3 pots from the getgo and becomes 4 on day two. 2 stock and 2 broth and they reduce down to one each. Feel free to cut this recipe in half as it might be overwhelming to make this much and if you don’t have a pressure canner, this may be more than you can comfortably store.
The lineup for a full batch of Pork Stock is:
12.5 lbs of pig feet/trotters
5.5 lbs of chicken feet
3 lbs of pig ears
5 lbs of pig snouts
2 slabs of salt pork
The lineup for a full batch of fortified Pork broth is:
7 lbs of meaty pork neck bones. ( single broth 3.5 lbs)
7 lbs of thin pork chops or any budget pork cut with a lot of surface area.
(single broth 3.5 lbs)
8 pounds Mirepoix divided into 2 sets of: 2lb onion, 1lb carrot, 1lb celery.
(4lbs, 2-1-1, for single broth)
6-8 whole bulbs of Garlic, 3-4 per set of Mirepoix above.
1 large bunch each: Simon and Garfunkle (Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme)
15-20 Bay Leaves
Salt, Pepper and Chicken Base to taste. Sometimes Garlic and Onion powder help boost the final flavor. These are all adjustments after you are to the reduction stage of the broth.
|Shopping !||Chicken Feet-Essential to all 3 stocks.||Pork Feet whole|
|Pork Feet chopped up||Pork Snouts||Pork Ears|
Now I know what you’re thinking… I’ve started studying the dark arts, I’m incorporating really weird animal parts and I’m secretly making some witch’s magic spell and brew in the quintessential black cauldron pot…A little eye of newt and the recipe is complete.
You can rest assured that this is more normal than you would think and was not uncommon just a generation or so ago. We as fast-paced people in the modern world are more removed from our food source/s than we have ever been as a civilization.
For farmers and ranchers that raise livestock and grow our food, there is a lot of less desirable parts to both animals and plants that often have found some sort of use out of necessity and not wanting to waste anything. The Native American mentality that you should never kill an animal unless you can fully use all of its parts, that the purpose of its use should be worth the cost and the loss, is a noble one that has led to much innovation and resourcefulness.
For every neatly trimmed and perfect looking pork chop you buy at the store in a styrofoam container with saran wrap, there are bones, skin, ears, noses, and feet etcetera that are leftover. A good store will sell the bones for soup/stock and a great store will sell all the oddities which are a gold mine for those who know how to use them. Most of these odd parts will sell for well under $2/lb at smaller local ethnic markets. Middle-Eastern and Hispanic markets are your best bet to find the oddball ingredients. If you live in a town with a slaughterhouse or a butcher that breaks down their own full or half primals then you should really see what kind of deal you can get from them. Remember, these are undesirable parts for most everyone so they should be thrilled to be able to have anyone to sell them to. Don’t pay more than $2.50 a pound for any of the wild cards.
You can also change up the ratio of this recipe if, for example, you can’t find pig ears, but you can find snouts, then use extra of those. The specific combo is somewhat arbitrary, but the main goal is as many collagen and cartilage containing components as you can squeeze into a couple of pots at a price you can afford.
This full-size batch of pork stock and fortified broth runs me about $75 to make not including the purified water cost. Including the water then maybe it is $85-95, but this yields me upwards of 2 gallons each of rich and thick stock and a concentrated, fortified broth. That is a full year’s worth of each without having to ration it for a normal year. I will pressure can most of it and put it in the garage pantry for easy use all year long. Some I will freeze, but usually, I can it all. I’ll also keep a remainder out to make Demi-Glace, instructions on that still to follow. Whatever doesn’t evenly fit into your long term storage method is the perfect amount to just enjoy fresh in a recipe or make Demi-Glace with.
Let’s start cooking!
The method and timeline is the same as
Chicken Stock/broth, but I’ll summarize it here
for quick reference.
All ingredients except salt pork in 1-2 pots to leave enough room for water to fully boil. Fill with cold water, bring to a boil, and keep on as high of a boil as you can for 24 hours.
|Chicken feet and meatless bones||Bring to a boil with cover screen||Keep submerged with smaller screen|
Chop and prep Mirepoix while searing the meat.
*If doing a single broth, then sear all the pork neck bones and chops you have. If doing a fortified broth then do all the neckbones first and save the pork chops for the second round. Don’t burn the oil! Medium-high heat and be patient.
Deglaze the pan with the mirepoix, add a little salt to sweat the veggies. Stack all the meat in and add cold water to fill once all the fond has been scraped up and melted off the pot.
Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer, let simmer for 24 hours keeping topped off with fresh water.
For both, keep everything submerged with a false bottom or splatter screen. Keep covered with a splatter screen. Keep topped off with water.
|Searing neckbones||Neck Bones done|
|Fond||Deglaze with Onion and Fond melts||Cooking Mirepoix|
|Add seared Pork back in||Top with cold water and simmer 24 hours|
|A layer will form on top that needs to be removed||Skim when layer is thick enough to be scooped||Pull scum to one side, scoop, and toss.|
Give a good stir and make sure nothing is stuck to the bottom of the pot. If the liquid appears really heavy and thick already, with slower larger bubbles breaking the surface rather than lots of little ones you might be ready to do the first wash already. If not, then a good stir and a top-off are all you need to do.
If you are ready to separate the first wash then strain all the pot contents into a colander over a large bowl to let drain. Return all the contents strained back to the pot. If they can all fit in one pot now then great, but likely not until the next day.
If you are down to one pot then:
Top it off with cold water and start the boil process over again in one of the two pots. Put the first wash stock back in the other pot and high simmer to reduce.
If you are still at two pots, most likely on day 2 then:
Reset both pots with the bones etc, top off fully with fresh water and repeat the boil process on both. The first wash stock will not have a burner to sit on so it needs to go in the fridge to hang out overnight. Remove the fat cap the next morning and save in the fridge.
|Draining and resetting Stock||Straining removed Stock||Reset to boil again||Stock is syrup-like under Fat Cap|
Strain all the contents of the pot and let cool. Strain the first wash broth and place it in a new pot on your 4th burner to a low simmer and reduce.
Separate the meat from the bones and place all the bones from the broth pot into the pot/s with the stock.
Return the meat and veggies to the original pot and top off fully with fresh water and bring back to a boil and immediately drop to a low simmer. This is your second wash.
For both, keep active pots submerged with a false bottom or splatter screen. Keep covered with a splatter screen. Keep topped off with water. Keep first washes simmering or in the fridge to hold.
|Place colander over large bowl or pot||Strain broth solids and reserve broth||Simmer strained broth|
|Move bones to the boiling pot of stock||Return meat and veggies and top with fresh water||Simmer another 24 hours|
If you didn’t do a first wash reset at the last interval, then you need to now. Follow the first wash instructions from the last step. If you have a really unctuous brew of stock then you could do a second wash reset here, after also doing one at the first 24-hour mark. How many times you strain off the stock and reset it with fresh water is up to you. It is just a reduction game in the end and making sure the water you are boiling can still absorb all the goodness from the bones etc.
Add the Salt pork to the strained off stock that you either pulled out of your fridge and removed the fat cap from (and saved), the stock you just strained off, or both if you have done two resets already.
Strain the second wash off, discard all the meat and veggies, and then combine the first and second wash broths to reduce down and season here if you’re not doing a fortified broth. For fortified, wait to season.
You can call it a day here and reduce the broth down and season to your liking or you can proceed to make a fortified broth.
For the fortified broth, you need to sear all the pork chops, deglaze with the second half of the mirepoix, and return all the meat to the pot. Fill the pot up with the combined broths from the first two days. If you come up short on broth, then top off with fresh cold water. If you have too much broth then set the extra to simmer or keep it in the fridge. Use this extra broth as your top off “water” until it is all incorporated. Add your fresh herbs in this stage after bringing to a boil and reducing down to a simmer.
* If you have refrigerated your stock at all leading up to this point then you can use the fat cap as your cooking fat for searing the second round of meat. This is far superior to adding more oil to the mixture! See notes/rant at the end about the fat cap and Lard.
|Add herbs in final stages of simmer|
|1st and 2nd wash of Single Broth||Fortified Broth is concentrated and darker||Fortified Broth Vs Pure Stock|
At this point, you should be able to reset the stock to have one pot of bones and water boiling and one pot of stock high simmer reducing if you haven’t already.
All the chicken feet should have melted and be indistinguishable by now. All the shaft bones should be easily crushable with your fingers to release the marrow.
Strain off all the bones into an empty pot and pulverize by hand or tool, a potato masher works great.
Combine all washes of stock to reduce in one pot and fill the pot with the pulverized bones about halfway with fresh water and bring to a rolling boil until the end of the 96-hour mark.
At the end of 96 hours, THOROUGHLY strain all bones, grit, and sediment out of your stock. Strain multiple times! Go from coarse to medium, to fine, and then repeat fine a couple of times until nothing is left. Combine this last wash of stock with the simmering stock once fully filtered.
Reduce rendered stock until you can fit in however many vessels it takes to put it in the fridge overnight and still leave room for the broth to rest in the fridge also.
The salt pork in the reducing stock should have melted most of the fat off and given the stock just the right amount of salt and some meaty flavor. This meat is now absolutely delicious as is or sautéed to crisp up a bit. Essentially you have slab bacon as you have never had it before. This is going to be a special moment for you, I don’t want to interrupt. I’ll let you and the bacon have a little privacy… I’ll be waiting in the next paragraph when you’re ready 😉
Hey champ, welcome back! Am I right or am I right?! You’re welcome.
Moving on to the broth-
Strain the second round of meat and veggies off, combine any and all broth washes you have and set to simmer.
Return the meat and veggies to the primary pot and top off with fresh water for the final wash.
Simmer this wash until the end of 96 hours and strain off. Discard all solids and strain thoroughly and then combine all washes off broth to simmer and reduce until it can fit in the fridge with the stock and all liquids can rest overnight in the fridge.
Do all of your final seasoning and adjustments here.
*optional, if you have room to simmer and fridge all liquid then you can do one last baby wash and flash boil with the last round of meat and veggies and the least amount of water it takes to float them to get everything left to release and incorporate into the water. This final wash gets folded into all the other broth washes for the final simmer down and fridge rest overnight. Maximum yield!
If I didn’t say this before, all washes of stock and broth should be well strained before being added to their respective simmering pots so when you get to the end it is all ready to throw in the fridge. If you did not strain and filter for end game along the way then you just need to do your final straining of the whole volume now before putting in the fridge. Doing it incrementally is less work or at least feels like less since it is broken up into smaller tasks instead of one big task. Either way, whether incrementally or lump sum.
YOU MUST STRAIN YOUR STOCK AND BROTH THOROUGHLY BEFORE PUTTING IN THE FRIDGE ON THE END OF THE LAST DAY.
Holy Sh*! You did it! 4 days have gone by and you have created upwards of 2 gallons each of stock and broth, a fortified broth at that and figured out how to strain it and store it all in your fridge overnight…… now what?
Ok. A few last things to address here and we are one the home stretch, almost done, I promise!
On the next day after removing stock and broth from the fridge:
For the Broth:
Skim any fat off the top of the broth and save for cooking with or discard. If there is not very much I would just leave it. A little fat adds flavor and body to your broth, but too much will make it greasy where your tongue won’t be able to taste the flavor of the broth until the fat washes off your tongue.
From here you need to prep your broth for your preferred storage or application method. Make some soup and/or make bone broth with some of the stock, and then either freeze some or pressure can some/all.
For the stock:
You should have a pretty sizeable fat cap that sits on top of the stock after you pull it all out of the fridge. If it is all in one pot, you are lucky, this is easy. If you have multiple pots in the fridge then you just have to repeat the same step a few times.
For a pork stock, the fat cap should be soft and creamy. It will be opaque and white compared to the golden/amber stock underneath. The fat cap will be spreadable like butter, but the stock underneath will be jiggly like jello.
You want to scoop off the excess fat from the top, but you don’t need to get every drop. Some fat in the stock is very good, in fact, leave a thin layer. Don’t try to scrape every last bit off, just take off the excess.
|Fat Cap on top||Scrape off excess||Fat Cap is Lard||Stock should be jello-like and jiggly under the fat.|
This fat you have removed is fresh homemade Lard. It is wonderful! Please don’t throw it away!
(Ominous music plays in the background as everything you’ve ever learned about cholesterol, trans fatty acids, and triglycerides strikes fear into your very soul)
Pause for dramatic effect………..
Ok yeah, sorry about that, but there is an old school and new school view on fats and the food pyramid that would be a whole blog unto itself to dive into. Long story extra short, your body knows how to process real sugar and real fat. In moderation, your body can handle butter, and lard, and bacon. It also knows what sugar is and what to do with it, it is familiar to your body and your metabolism.
Fake fats like margarine or mono/poly/exponentially unsaturated fats that are overly processed tend to confuse the body as do fake sugars that are chemically unsound (Splenda, Aspartame). In the course of diets and fads, many a chemical substitute has been created to replace real food. Some are actually progressive and useful in the sugar field like allulose, xylitol, and erythritol. (Do your homework)
Most of the substitutes in the fat world have fallen short with margarine being the worst of all time. Chemically it shares more properties with plastic or polyurethane, than any food known to man and is produced using solvents like hexane, elements like hydrogen, and heavy metals like nickel.
The final product is so devoid of nutrition and chemically altered from anything resembling food that it is a wonder that we consume it at all. If you eat so poorly that you have to compensate by eating fake food and chemicals to try and balance your diet then you have a much deeper issue to address than whether you should enjoy real butter or cooking with fresh lard.
The mortality rate of humans has decreased as we have created better medicine and become more technologically advanced, meaning, we don’t die on accident or from tragedy nearly as much as we did in preceding generations.
The life expectancy of humans, however, has decreased from most people living well into their 100’s versus many dropping dead by or before 80. I’m not an expert on the subject by any means, but the observational data is pretty apparent and easily searchable.
Ok! Stepping off the soapbox, sorry about that, just needed to put that out there. So many people are afraid of real fats like butter, lard, and bacon grease. For us, this is the holy trinity of cooking mediums with flavor. Olive oil is tasty and healthy and high smoke point oils like grapeseed, coconut, and safflower are excellent fats for high heat cooking, but lack flavor inherent unto themselves. Peanut oil is about the only high smoke point oil that actually has any personality. Stir fry, yes please!
Bottom line is that Lard is a very versatile and flavorful fat that got a bad rap in the ’80s and ’90s just like butter, eggs, and avocados did when nobody could make up their minds on what healthy fat was, or is. Does anyone remember the commercials about eggs going to jail?!
Lard, like butter or bacon fat, can sit happily on your kitchen counter at room temperature for a few weeks to months without issue in a covered container. The classic butter dish for butter is just that, classic. Bacon fat and lard are easily stored in small mason jars or any jar with a lid. We ourselves, go through these cooking fats fast enough that we have never had them spoil. I imagine there is a terminal spoilage point for room temperature fats, just how olive oil can eventually go rancid, but we use it quickly enough that it never has in all of our years. I’ll have a particular oil or two go rancid it if I don’t use it for months, but that is months we are talking about.
Ok, Ok, sorry for the tangent rant everyone. Let’s get back on task here!
Lard, this is what you are scraping off the top of your rendered stock and it is wonderful. All agreed? Yes! Great, moving on.
Just like the broth, you will need to choose how you want to store your stock whether you are immediately committing some of it to an application or storing it in one of the aforementioned options.
You have made a rich Pork Stock and, hopefully, a deliciously fortified Pork Broth!
You can store these each separately by freezing or canning or you can merge some or all of it to make Pork Bone Broth. I will usually merge up to half of my yield to make Bone Broth because that is application ready. Essentially instant soup broth that tastes like it took 96 hours to make and then I just build my soup with whatever protein and veggies I want down the road. The rest I will can separately because sometimes a soup, sauce, or gravy etc. just needs one of those components added in.
Start with a small measured amount of broth and add stock in incrementally and taste to find your preferred ratio. 2 parts broth to 1 part stock is a good starting point. Once you know what ratio you like then you can merge the two wholesale and store in your preferred method. Making Tonkotsu Ramen is one of the BEST uses for pork stock, but the broth is different so check that recipe to see the modifications.
|Setup a pressure canner||Enjoy your stock and broth all year long|