Tuesday, April 21, 2009

It Starts with Stock

Every couple of days or at least once a week, I make stock. It is usually when I have roasted a chicken or perhaps a roast of beef, lamb or pork, or a ThanksDay turkey. But usually it starts with chicken bones. 

Back it up a bit. When I trim broccoli and cauliflower or take the outer leaves off of cabbage, I tuck them into a plastic bag in the freezer. That way, I always have vegetable matter to add to the stock. In the stock above, I had roasted a shoulder cut of beef in tomato sauce and added vegetables to the pan. Since there is only TheBigGuy and me at home now, I had a lot left over- even after the next day lunch. So the roasted veggies, the braising tomato sauce and some frozen vegetable trimmings went in along with a handful of dried parsley.

If I am hanging around all day, I bake the bones: arrange in a roasting pan, drizzle with olive oil, roast them in the oven at 350°F for about an hour. If I am making a vegetarian stock, I always roast the vegetables to begin because it gives a richer-tasting stock. In that case, I quarter a couple of onions, cut 2 carrots and 2 parsnips into 2-inch pieces, peel a handful of garlic cloves and toss them all together in a roasting pan If I have other vegetables like turnip, beets, rutabaga, I quarter those and add them to the pan as well. Drizzle with olive oil and roast as above.

So in this case, I had a secret soup weapon: leftover preserved lemon sauce. Last week I made a Tagine Chicken with Moroccan spices and a chopped preserved Lemon. Now TheBigGuy will eat anything I put in front of him, but he sniffed the fragrant lemon sauce on the chicken and put down his fork. First time I have seen him actually play with his food.
So I rinsed off the chicken and served it cold in a salad next night. And froze that Lemon Sauce in 2 cup containers. I knew that I could safely add it to a soup stock and the fragrant lemon would be lost. Sure thing. The Morrocan spices held up and the lemon went away.

So back to making stock: Everything - the baked bones or veggies, the vegetable trimmings, herbs and a few whole allspice berries or a couple of star anise - gets added to the bowl of a slow cooker. Leftover vegetable cooking water or strained water that has been used to reconstitute mushrooms or sun dried tomatoes or just plain water is added until it covers the stock ingredients by 2 or 3 inches minimum. Simmer on 'low' for 24 hours, cool, strain and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Store in 2 or 4-cup containers in the freezer for up to 3 months.

I used 8 cups of the stock in the photo above in my Mushroom Soup. Recipe to follow. 

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