I started seriously making my own broths out of a desire to always have broths handy for cooking and to avoid food waste. Yes, I said food waste. The ends of onions, celery, carrot tops, mushroom stems, and so much more can be great for flavoring broths. And let’s not forget all the bones. I started with the basics. I made chicken broth. It was delicious and so much better-flavored than the store bought. Then, of course, I made vegetable broth. Living with a vegetarian and also having a vegan daughter who comes for dinner occasionally (well, less often during a pandemic, but I do take her food periodically), I use a lot of vegetable broth. And oddly, the grocery store we frequent is often out of it. Then there were beef neck bones on sale at our local grocery. While I may explore other recipes for these, it was just such a perfect opportunity to make beef broth.
I stocked our freezer with all variety of broths, saved in 2 cup quantities, as that is the most common amount I find myself needing in recipes. We had one mishap when we had to move where I lost all my meat broths due to terrible movers who didn’t follow directions, but I quickly restocked. After making chicken, beef, pork and vegetable broths, I stumbled on a recipe for mushroom broth in The French Laundry Cookbook. I don’t know why, but this had never occurred to me. I put mushrooms in all my broths because they have a lot of flavor, but the idea of making it the star of the broth had never occurred to me. I didn’t have all of the ingredients in Thomas Keller’s recipe, but I figured I’d give it a shot. Turns out, we could pretty much put the mushroom broth in any recipe, and we would love it.
My husband has been on me to publish my mushroom broth recipe. But the problem is that there really isn’t a recipe. At least there isn’t a well-defined, tested multiple times recipe. I basically use the cheapest mushrooms available, sliced however you want, and throw them in a 12 qt stock pot. I throw in whatever onion, carrot, celery or vegetable parts that are in the bag I keep in the freezer. (Side note, grab a 2 gallon freezer bag and keep all those usual discards or any veggies that are getting close to no longer being usable. It’s great for flavoring stocks and cuts down on food waste.) If I don’t have enough onion parts, I cut an onion in half and throw it in. I add some thyme and parsley and fill the pot with water. I then just let it cook for 4-6 hours. I taste it periodically and adjust salt and seasonings until I love it.
So see, there is no real recipe. How many mushrooms? How many do you have? This is really like 2020. There are no rules. But unlike 2020, you’ll want this again!