|Midday sun, January 11, 2013|
This is the time of year I like to make stock...
Summer certainly isn't the time for it!
I simmer stock for up to three days on the back of the stove - that is NOT a good summer activity!
But when the temps hover between zero and 15 degrees (that's Fahrenheit peeps!), the constant simmering liquid helps warm the house.
And the aroma? Heavenly. Drives the dog crazy :)
So, what is stock?
It's the original kitchen recycling project.
The foundational technique every chef learns.
The basis for soups, gravies and sauces.
In other words, Cooking 101.
Years ago when my husband was working at a hospital in Kansas City, the chef kept a stock pot on the back of the stove. He'd start with turkey, but then every bit of vegetable scrap generated by the kitchen staff (and this was a big hospital!) was thrown into the pot, along with additions of water as needed. Whenever stock was needed for a recipe, Chef Darrel would dip it out of the stock pot. Every five days (or so), he'd empty out the pot, save the stock, dispose of the bones/veggie pieces/etc and start over.
Our foremothers did the same thing - a pot on the back of the stove or at the edge of the fire. It was called a soup pot. Every scrap was saved and used for the soup.
And a lot like quilting, I now buy the ingredients for my stock rather than use leftovers.
We had a major winter storm move into our area on Friday, so with that forecast I hunkered down and started a pot of beef stock.
Here are the ingredients (Kav, avert your eyes until we get to the veggies):
Other beef bones: knuckle bones, steak bones, etc.
Important: the amount of ribs and bones you use depends on the size of your stock pot. I have a 20 quart pot, so I use a lot of them.
Also important: Do NOT use an aluminum pot - use stainless steel.
Joint bones or knuckle bones are especially important to include - healthy stuff in them thar bones!
2-3 celery ribs
parsley - fresh if you have it, but otherwise use parsley flakes
I like to buy carrots with the tops whenever I can find them.
But celery usually comes with leaves. Use the heart of the celery - you know, the part you throw away when you're cutting up celery sticks?
Start out by preparing the meat.
Put the ribs in a shallow pan or roasting pan and roast for one hour at 350 degrees. This browns the meat nicely and will give your stock a good color.
Meanwhile, put the rest of the bones (with or without meat on them) in your stock pot, cover with cold water and add 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar.
The vinegar leaches out wonderful minerals from those bones.
I know you're thinking "Cold water? Wouldn't hot water help the pot boil faster?". Well, maybe. But using cold water keeps your stock from getting cloudy. No one wants cloudy stock.
As your stock comes to a boil, yucky foam may form on top. Be sure to skim that off.
Now, put the lid on your pot and lower the heat on your burner so that the stock keeps moving at a bare simmer. You want to see movement, but you don't want the liquid to boil.
And this is the best part. You want that stock to simmer for at least 12 hours, up to 72 hours.
Seventy-two hours??? You mean THREE DAYS?
While the stock is simmering, all the healthy stuff from your ribs, bones, meat and veggies are blending together into the best stock you've ever had.
This time I let my stock simmer about 36 hours. It turned out a beautiful amber color. As it cooks longer, it gets darker. My last batch was so dark brown it was nearly black.
About thirty minutes before your stock is done simmering, add the parsley. (And I have to admit, I often forget this step.)
When the stock is done, it's time to store it.
First, remove the bones with tongs, and then strain the liquid through a colander or sieve.
If you're going to freeze your stock, cool it thoroughly in your fridge. Remove the fat that congeals on the top, and then put the stock into freezer containers.
Don't be surprised if your stock resembles brown jello. That's good. It means there's plenty of gelatin in your stock.
I don't have room in my fridge to let the stock cool, so I can mine in pint jars. It's necessary to use steam pressure canning - don't even try to use the water bath method like you do for tomatoes.
Here's what my winter storm project looked like at the end:
|The jars weren't quite cool when I took this picture -|
the solid fat rises to the top and you can remove it before
using the stock.
Oh, and the fun and frugal part? This fits the January requirements I shared last week: low cost, tasty, and low calorie.
Ten calories per cup worth of low calorie. Now that's the kind of frugal I like!
One more thing - you can use this same concept to make chicken/turkey stock and vegetable stock. The only differences are to cook the chicken/turkey stock for only about 12 hours.
The vegetable stock is made from the leftovers of cleaning veggies to eat - peels, stems, leaves, etc. Add water and cook for about 2 hours.
So, how about it? Are you ready to plunge into the world of making stock?