Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Tasteful Tuesday--Basic Stocks

October 15, 2013

Welcom to Tasteful Tuesday.

Today, I want to talk about stocks. If you can learn how to make a basic stock from beef, chicken, turkey, pork or even fish--you can make some of the most mouth waterin' soups, gravies and sauces you ever laid your lips on. Stocks are a great way to use up bits and pieces of meat, vegetables, and bones, makin' your kitchen very thrifty, indeed. Also,  suggest usin' a crockpot for the long cookin' process--uses less electricity, and you don't have to watch everything constantly.

The first stock I want to introduce you to is from Jeff Smith, The Frugal Gourmet. He was a big star chef in the 80's. I watched his show every Saturday at noon on PBS, and I learned that I could cook, regardless of the fact that while growin' up I was barely taught the basics (trust me--home ec class was spent playin' gin rummy while the teacher crocheted--yeah folks, public school was junk even then).

Here is the Basic Brown Beef Stock Recipe:

It is used for soups, sauces, and gravies. Although he calls for you to cook this on the stove--once you roast the bones, use the crockpot--it will keep you sane.
  • Bare rendering bones, sawed into 2-inch pieces
  • Carrots, unpeeled and chopped
  • Yellow onions, unpeeled and chopped
  • Celery, chopped
  • Tell your butcher that you need bare rendering bones. They should not have any meat on them at all, so they should be cheap. Have him saw them up into 2-inch pieces.
    Roast the bones in an uncovered pan at 400 for 2 hours. Be careful with this, because you oven may be a little too hot. Watch the bones, which you want to be toasty, not black. Place the roasted bones on a soup pot and add 1 quart water for each pound of bones. For 5 pounds, add 1 bunch carrots, 1 head celery, and 3 yellow onions, chopped with peel and all. (The peel will give lovely color to the stock.) Bring to a simmer, uncover, and cook, for 12 hours(here is where a crockpot is invaluable). You may need to a water to soup up to the same level. Do not salt the stock. Strain the stock, and store in the refrigerator. Allow the fat to stay on top of the stock when you refrigerate it; the fat will seal the stoke and allow you to keep it for several days. Makes 5 quarts of stock

    It's quite lovely, however--I suggest you make this up durin' the winter, so the oven adds to the warmth of the home. You can then measure it into portions and freeze. You may be able to can it, I just never did. Anyone have any suggestions for folks to can stock?

    Now--You can find a recipes for chicken stock, either online or in a book. However, the best way to make it that I have found is to simply toss all your chicken scraps (necks, backs, wings, etc--basicall anything that you don't like to mess with or your family isn't fond of), veggies (onions, carrots, garlic, celery, etc) and water into the crockpot, then let 'er rip on slow for overnight. In the mornin', strain out the solids (and toss them onto the compost pile--they ain't nothin' left in them), then measure into portions and freeze.

    Once, when I  received a GREENBERG'S SMOKED TURKEY for a Christmas gift. First of all--let me say that if you EVER get the chance to get one of these delectable smoked birds--DO IT. (www.gobblegobble.com)

    Okay, I wiped the drool from my mouth--on with my tale.

    Once we had enjoyed the meat from the bird--I found a recipe for chicken stock from Laura Brody. I tried it with the leftover bones, skin, and small bits of the turkey and....

    There I go, droolin' again.

    The spices that are packed into the bird, along with the smoked flavor, makes the most AMAZING stock you have ever tasted. Other than the usual veggies--you don't need to season the stock at all.

    Now, Vegetable Stock.

    Pretty basic--you just use the veggies you would in a regular stock, and cook them in a crockpot overnight. You can pan roast the hard veggies first, like the beef bones, to give them a richer flavor. Just cut them up into small chunks, spread them out onto a cookie sheet, sprinkle olive oil over them, and pop them into a 400 degree overn for about an hour. Then put them into your pot or crockpot and proceed.

    Here's a good recipe I've used a lot.

    2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    2 carrots, sliced
    1 onion, quartered (don’t bother to peel)
    1 potato, sliced
    1 celery stalk, chopped
    2 or 3 cloves garlic (don’t bother to peel)
    5 to 10 white mushrooms, halved or sliced (Also try portobellos--rich, musky flavor)
    10 to 20 parsley stems or stems with leaves
    2 tablespoons soy sauce
    Salt and freshly ground black pepper

    Pan or oven roast the hard veggies, then you can place them and the rest of the ingredients and water to cover into your crockpot overnight on low.

    3. Strain, then taste and adjust the seasoning.

    Fish Stock

    This is the easiest, and yet most delicate, of stocks to make. This is where you learn to ADORE your crockpot, because the low heat lets you cook the stock without destryin' the gentle flavor of the fish.

    I make this stock after I have had a bounty of shrimp or crawfish, since I can use up the shells and nothin' goes to waste. You can use regular fish, but I like the shells. I once asked for a 'doggie bag' at a Red Lobster, and I put all the shells from my meal into it, along with everyone else's at the table. The waiter looked very confused when he came to collect the plates! (BTW--if you ever order the whole lobster--make them leave the rest of the lobster--you paid for it, and you can use it to make stock and soup with. They are bad about just givin' you the tail and takin' the rest back to the kitchen)

    Since my stock recipe is sort of slapdash, here is a more normal one from Anthony StClair (www.anthonystclair.com)

    • Various fish and seafood scraps (fish heads, bones, seafood shells, Poseidon’s pitchfork trident thingie, the characters from The Little Mermaid; you know—whatever’s on hand)
    • Water
    • Optional: Vinegar, about 1 tsp. per pint of scraps (helps with mineral extraction, but not required; we use apple cider vinegar, but use whatever the heck vinegar you want)
    1. We use a rough 1:2 ratio of scraps to water for our slow cooker seafood stock, such as 1 pint scraps to 2 pints water. This method has been validated by years of scientific research or, rather, me eyeballing things as I grabbed bags out of the freezer this morning. I did measure the water though, and the ratio thing seems about right.
    2. Bung all the seafood bits into the slow cooker and add liquid. You want everything covered by a couple of inches or so of water.
    3. Add the vinegar, if using.
    4. Cook on low for 6-7 hours (aim for a gentle simmer, not a big rolling boil).
    5. Let stock cool. We usually spoon the stock through a strainer into a big bowl to help it cool faster. You could also fill a bowl with ice, and set your stock bowl on top of that.
    6. Spoon stock into jars (if using soon, say within a week), and put in fridge. We freeze a lot of our stock, so we write the date, contents and amount on a freezer bag (usually one pint per bag), bag up the stock, make sure it’s cool, and bung it in the freezer.
    Okay, that's pretty much the basics, as I see them. If you try these, and add your own twists and turns as you learn, you will never want to pick up a can of over salted stock at the store again.

    Well, I got chores. Later ya'll.
    © Evelyn Edgett 2013


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