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Sep 1, 2010 01:55 PM

Pork Stock

So, i've got a lovely bag of fresh pork bones from the farm who supplies my CSA and plan on making stock.

My biggest question is, what should flavor this stock? I dont feel its the right decision to flavor it the same way i do my chicken stock, with the same veggies and chicken-y herbs...

so what works?

should i brown the bones or not?

onion and garlic seems like a given, peppercorns and bay leaves, but what else?

coriander seeds? Marjoram? a smoky dried chili?

do I just let the pork speak for itself?

opinions welcome...

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  1. Never made pork stock - but I'd have thought celery and carrot were givens in any stockmaking, along with your givens.

    1. I have never talked to anyone that makes pork stock. Maybe a Ham stock, maybe. The closest I come to a pork stock is when I make Ham Hocks and beans, I will make a stock with the ham hocks and then cook my beans in it.

      What would you do with it? The only thing I can think of is a pork stew. When I look up recipes for pork stew, I find the following veggies and spices used. I would think you could use these in your stock.
      Carrots, celery, onions, garlic, bay leaves and thyme.

      Well that sounds familiar. It is what we put in just about every stock. Roasting bones would give it a darker color and more taste so I would recommend that.

      Using onion peels is supposed to make it darker.

      They put fennel seeds in sausage, I guess you could put some of those in.

      According to this site Herbs that go well with pork are caraway seeds, coriander, cumin, curry powder, dill, garlic, rosemary, sage, fennel, savory and thyme. I guess you could some of those.

      Bottom line. You are going to have to experiment a little. I would still use mirepoix or at least onions.

      I don't think I would get carried away with spices that have very strong flavors as it would commit you as to what you could do with it. Better to add cumin or curry when you know what you are going to do with it.

      Good Luck.

      1. I make pork stock all the time (simply b/c it's so delicious and you cannot ever find it in the markets).

        This is what I do.

        - Blanch (or parboil) your pork bones. In other words, put your bones in a stockpot, cover with water, bring to a boil, then discard the water and rinse your bones.

        - Then put your now-rinsed bones back into a clean stockpot, add some rough chopped ginger and scallions, as well as some carrots, cover with water and bring to a boil, reduce heat and allow to simmer gently for 6 to 9 hours. The longer the better.

        - As it simmers, routinely check the stock to skim off any scum that might form on the top.

        - After it finishes simmering, remove the bones, and if you prefer filter it through some cheesecloth, but if you don't care about it being cloudy then you don't have to do this (I don't because I like my stock to be rustic).

        - Refrigerate overnight and then remove top layer of fat (Note: reserve this fat for cooking, frying, etc.).

        Voila, perfect pork stock.


        31 Replies
        1. re: ipsedixit

          How I treat making pork stock depends on how I plan to use the broth. If I'm going for Asian Style Soups, ipse's directions are perfect........if my plan is to make something that is made with beans or other legummes....then celery, carrots and onions are added to the pot.

          1. re: fourunder


            I'm curious, do you parboil?

            1. re: ipsedixit


              Yes and no.

              I have in the past when the initial boil produced some ugly looking liquid.......but generally I do not parboil and discard the water first. I rarely have had a problem with excessive blood and I never really had to do so in the past......I do however, always parboil first any beans I use in recipes.....maybe I have it backwards.

              For the Asian soups, I usually drop the pork neck bones or pork chops directly into simmering water and I do not brown the bones.....I then skim the scum and the simmer for a minimum of 3 hours. I'll add the aromatics in after and simmer another 45 -60 minutes......When I'm making Winter Melon or Daikon Soups in large pieces, I'll add them in soon after. If I'm adding diced/cubed pieces, then I'll wait for the final 30 minutes....this is also when I would add sliced black musrooms that have already been re-hydrated. If I'm making pure stock for a noodle soup bowl, then I would refrigerate and de-fat like you mentioned above.

              If making heartier bean soups, then I would brown the meats(for more color) first., but usually, I'm using the leftovers of a pork roast or fresh ham.

              1. re: fourunder

                It's funny, but I never roast my pork bones for stock. I just think it imparts an "off" flavor. But I always parboil them.

                On the other hand, I almost always roast chicken (or turkey) bones when making stock.

            2. re: fourunder

              I'm with you (although I also had thyme and bay leaf to the standard stock), but the orange peel someone recommended earlier reminded me of how beguiling that is in red cooked pork. I imagine orange peel and a cinnamon stick might be a haunting back note in a rich stock for a pot of white beans.

            3. re: ipsedixit

              ipsedixit, you reminded me that several of my Asian friends have told me that you should always add ginger when you are cooking pork, to "cover the pork smell." I've never really known what they meant (guess my palate and nose are not that advanced!)...I've made pork stock but hadn't thought to add ginger to it. So thanks for sharing your recipe.

              One of those friends taught me how to make soup with pork bones and corn on the cob. It was a good combo; the next time I make corn chowder, I think I'll try simmering the corn cobs in pork stock...

              1. re: ipsedixit

                ipsedixit - What do you do with your pork stock?

                1. re: Jen76

                  Soup (e.g. with some daikon, seaweed), noodle soups, congee, as a soup base for Chinese hot pot, etc.

                  1. re: Jen76

                    As ipsedixit said, it is a way of life in Asian cooking, and Japanese are positively fanatic about good pork stock with noodles (see the great old film Tampopo!). A local foodie friend told me that real Japanese noodle soups use pork and bonito (dashi) broths in combination. I often add Thai fish sauce to my cooking, salad dressings, sauces, etc, just a few drops at a time, to see the effect (usually quite nice).

                  2. re: ipsedixit

                    Parboil then discard the water? Not if you're making beans, my friend. You want the marrow that leaks into the liquid to flavor and tenderize your beans (especially for Southern and Mexican preparations). I always have a package of split pork bones in the freezer for precisely this purpose.

                    1. re: Harry Niletti

                      You still get the marrow after parboiling, just without the scum.

                      1. re: ipsedixit

                        Why discard the initial water? Just skim the scum off and you won't lose any flavor that went into the water.

                        1. re: John E.

                          It's easier and you don't lose "any flavor". Trust me.

                          In fact, I would argue that boiling the bones twice (initial parboil and the second boil before you start the simmer), actually loosens up the bones and allows more marrow and flavor to escape.

                          Obviously do what you want/like, I'm just telling you what I do and my experiences.

                          1. re: John E.

                            ipsedixit linked to this thread in a current discussion and I'm reading it for the first time.

                            Not all the scum rises to the top. Some will still be stuck to the meat and bones and on the bottom and sides of the stock pot. The scum imparts a bitter, muddy taste to the stock. This is particularly true when making pork stock. I find it important for certain beef dishes too, yet not as critical for poultry other than assuring clarity. So I would be less concerned about flavor loss from a brief parboiling (there isn't really any if you're doing a long cook for your final stock), and think about what off-flavors you're introducing to your stock by not removing all the scum.

                            Another advantage of parboiling besides not having to stand over a pot and skim for hours is that it is much easier to wash the freshly coagulated scum off a pot that has only boiled for a few minutes compared to the cooked-on build up on a pot that has simmered 10+ hours.

                            My old post on "chuet sui",

                            1. re: Melanie Wong

                              I have not experienced the problems which you have described. I also do not simmer pork stock for 10+ hours. The only stock I simmer for that length of time is beef stock.

                                1. re: John E.

                                  Interesting. I find it takes at least 6 hours of simmering for the cartilage in the pork joints to break down. For that long of a cook, it's easier for me to let it go overnight, so 10 to 12 hours to extract all the flavor is no problem.

                                2. re: Melanie Wong


                                  I do the parboiling and washing of bones+whatever meat is on them, trim them a bit too to remove nasty bits (e.g. big veins, large gnarly fatty lumps, etc) then start afresh with clean water.

                                  I do the same with beef bones too, when I make beef stock, unless the bones are super clean and scrubbed already.

                                  The "parboiled bones stock" that results smells cleaner and fresher ("ching") than stock made from uncleaned/un-parboiled bones, for both pork and beef stock. IMO.

                                  I demonstrated to a friend once the difference it makes by keeping the pot of water used to parboil beef bones (I fished the bones out after suitable boiling times) and doing the stock proper in another pot. [She had never done the parboiling thing before] After a little simmering time, I asked her to smell the stock proper and the pot of parboiling water. The look on her face and the big round eyes she showed were priceless.

                                  1. re: huiray

                                    Thanks for bringing up the other point. After par-boiling, it's much easier to pull off the excess fat, nerves and veins.

                                    That's a good experiment you devised! I make pork stock two or three times a month, typically using two pounds of neck bones per batch. I used to resist the parboiling because I didn't like to deal with two pots. But even rinsing the raw bones with cold salted water more than six times could not achieve the same level of cleaning. And I live in drought-prone Northern California, so I hated to pour that much water down the drain.

                                    1. re: Melanie Wong

                                      Yes, it's much easier to rip off excess crud after the parboil.

                                      As for boiling pork bones for a long time, yes that seems to be needed to get lots of cartilage, juices/taste to dissolve out. In fact, with a nice load of neck & shin & leg bones (with nice knobby joints and thick marrow bones as well) after about 6-8 hours and more (even overnight as you have mentioned) of simmering the stock gets "milky" (rather than clear) - which is excellent stock for preparing soups like a Szechuan-style very peppery (white pepper, NOT black pepper) soup with pork meatballs and sliced daikon. :-)

                                      1. re: huiray

                                        I should mention that when I make pork stock, it's usually just the pork meat and bones plus a crushed knob of ginger. For long simmers, aromatic veggies will get tired and impart old/stale flavor to the stock. Mostly I use the stock to make Chinese herbal soups, adding the herbs for the last hour of cooking. But I also use the pork stock to make pozole or chile verde. I have been asked what is it that gives my chile verde that something extra something, je ne sais quoi, if you will. The nuance of ginger, not enough to be identifiable underneath the other spices, is the source.

                                        1. re: Melanie Wong

                                          Hi Melanie,

                                          Thanks for sharing your secret. Your comment about aromatic veg getting tired - do you believe the same thing with chicken stock also? Because I simmer my chicken stock for 12 hours...


                                          1. re: xiaobao12

                                            The operative factor is the cooking time. Whether you're simmering chicken or pork, 12 hours is too long to cook vegetables and you'll get stale flavors.

                                          2. re: Melanie Wong

                                            I made pork chile verde yesterday using pork stock from the freezer.

                                    2. re: Melanie Wong

                                      I do this when I make pho broth, per Andrea Nguyen.

                                    1. re: esquimeaux

                                      Blood,fat and other impurities released from the bones. You can reduce the amount of scum by soaking meat and bones in salted wated.....which draws out the blood. Rinse thouroughly.

                                      1. re: esquimeaux

                                        "what IS that scum?"

                                        That's an existential question about swine that I have yet to divine an answer to.

                                        Would it be to glib too say, "it's pork scum"?

                                        I figure if I eat another couple of hundreds of pounds of pork, I might be in a better position to do so ...

                                        1. re: ipsedixit

                                          Scum-skimming is easy and good for the soul, so there's no reason to throw out even a small part of the baby with the bathwater. (I believe Aristotle first noted that immutable truth. Or was it Porkulus?)

                                    2. I make pork stock, just not as often as other stock. I don't par boil the bones but I do put them in the cold water alone, bring the water up to a boil turn it down and then skim the scum off the surface. I then add pretty much the same things I would for chicken stock, carrots, celery, onions, garlic, bay, peppercorns and a small amount of salt. I never put too much salt in because you never know how much it will end up being reduced. I'll put herbs in too, depending on what I have. My favorite use for pork stock is to make pork chile verde. I'll also use it for posole and other latin type applications.

                                      1. thanks to everyone....excellent discussion, keep it coming!

                                        I may need to make 2-3 differnt batches flavord differently...

                                        Pork stock is really common in Latino cooking applications such as Posole and chile verde, but i think i could stand to add it to my tamales as well...

                                        It is, of course, painfully common in american bean applications...

                                        and as many of you have noted, common in asian cooking...

                                        I'm beginning to assume it may be useful in some eauropean and french type things as well...

                                        more than anything, i find it valuable to have "flavored waters" on hand for cooking, hydrating dishes, simmering fresh shell beans, sauteeing veggies, braising, etc.

                                        It def cant hurt :)

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: TSQ75

                                          You missed one......for cooking rice(Pilaf).

                                          1. re: fourunder


                                            stock is in no way limited in its uses...