Onion skins. Celery ends. Beef fat trimmings. Mushroom stems. Carrot tops. Garlic sprouts. Chicken bones. No, it's not the contents of a Rachel-Ray-type "garbage bowl" that I'm going to throw away. It's what I save for making stock!
Well apparently, this is all wrong. So says Chef Pardus. Crap.
You see, I thought I was being so clever and frugal. I always saved these bits and scraps from making meals--kept them in a bag in the freezer. Every now and then I'd heave them, unthawed, into the crockpot with water to cover. After 8 hours or so on "low," I'd have something I called stock. (It tasted like onion water.) I'd salt it up and use it in soups or stews.
However, after reading The Making of a Chef by Michael Ruhlman, I discovered that Chef Michael Pardus (Culinary Institute of America) does NOT consider stuff like vegetable trimmings to be legitimate stock ingredients. Ruhlman describes the basics class where CIA students are learning to make stock. When asked if the carrots for stock should be peeled, Pardus said something like, "If people want carrot peelings so much, put them in a salad." Takeaway: Don't make stock from garbage. Use peeled carrots, not carrot peels. (The worst part of this story is that once, before I'd ever read Making of a Chef, I posted a comment on ruhlman.com giving my little freezer bag routine as a handy kitchen tip. Idiot! Now Michael Ruhlman knows that I make stock out of garbage!)
I really should know better, since I went to coooking school myself once. Stock should be made with mirepoix, a sachet of parsley and peppercorns, bones. I know that. But honestly, when I have carrots or celery or onions (aka mirepoix), I need to cook and eat them, not boil them for stock. Is it so wrong to save my garbage and make... onion water? Aren't I rather clever?