Friday, August 22, 2008

Is It Over, Yet? [stock, post 2]

Well, it sure looks pretty.

For those of you new to making your own stocks, I'd love to give a play by play, but I don't think it would fit in a normal blog post. I can try &, um... boil it down, though. Basically, if you are making a meat stock, you first brown the cleaned & dried bones in the oven for roughly 40 minutes. After browning, the bones are submerged in water in a stockpot & simmering is commenced. Meanwhile, a simple mixture of onions, carrots & celery (or celery equivalent) are essentially caramelized in a sturdy pan, & as they're turning a rich brown color, the tomato paste is added. This is then cooked along with the vegetables, caramelizing somewhat itself. The pan is deglazed with a bit of the simmering bone-water & set aside. The bones continue their simmering...

Then, you might want to take a 7-odd minute break to put together a simple meal, in order to keep from going crazy with impatience &/or dying of starvation. In this case, I whipped up a toasted local sandwich with gruyere, 1-year cheddar, Schultz chicken andouille sausage (new in the Market- Try 'em!), tomatoes & some micro greens. While you can't exactly leave your house, or go to sleep (sadly), making stock is pretty low-impact from here on out, & you can wander around doing other tasks.

After several hours of simmering, the vegetable-tomato mixture can be added in, along with classic seasonings such as garlic, cracked black pepper, thyme, & bay leaves. The simmering continues...

After at least another hour of this (probably long past your bedtime, if you have a meat department to open the next morning, say), sea salt can be added to taste & the whole thing skimmed, drained, & cooled.

If all goes reasonably well, the next day finds you with a richly flavored stock for use in soups & sauce. I'll be reducing a portion of mine to make a demi-glace for use in braising some local lamb rib chops (ON SPECIAL THROUGH SEPTEMBER 15TH!). The rest I'll probably freeze for later adventures...

-nano (really) out.

* Please consult your favorite cookbook for detailed stock-making instructions. Techniques & results may vary from those described in this post. Not responsible for lost or damaged time, ego, or sanity.


Liz said...

I must confess to never having made my own stock before...but I have bag of veggie scraps in the freezer that I save for this purpose. After canning about 25 pounds of tomatoes today, I have quite a few tomato peels and juice/seeds left. I saved them, thinking I could make a tomato-veggie broth. Does that sound like it would work?

nano said...


Veggie broth is a more subtle & somewhat shorter process, actually.

You just need basic aromatics (or if you want to get all frenchy, "mirepoix"). This is usually onions, carrots & celery or celeriac, in a ratio of 2:1:1, with the addition of other flavorful vegetables & herbs to suit your ends. Garlic, thyme, parsley & bay leaves are pretty standard, but other herbs can add some nifty complexity too, like tarragon or maybe sage in small amounts.

You could simply bring the veggies & water to a simmer, but I'd think sauteing them at least a bit would be better, although really caramelizing them might be going a bit far. The more delicately flavored herbs & such should be added towards the last hour of the gentle simmering. & I mean GENTLE, & I mean HOURS, but not maybe as many as I was describing (5+).

You'd want to avoid vegetables that absorb surrounding flavors, like potatoes & zucchini-type characters.

As for your tomato scraps, I wouldn't think the skins would do much but add bitterness, but the pulp could be strained for additional juice & combined with the stock either during the simmering or at the time the stock was actually utilized. If it's fresh tomato squeezins, this is called "tomato-water" & it adds an incredibly pure tomato taste to dishes (it's how I did that tomato veloute back in June). I guess what I'm getting at here is that you don't want to get too heavy handed with the tomatoes, else you end up with tomato sauce instead of veggie stock.

I don't want to claim knowledge of any hard & fast rule, but by the time your stock has reduced by roughly 1/4, you should be about done. Then a final mild salting & skimming, straining & cooling is all that remains.

nano said...

Oh, my. I DO run on, don't I?