October is swiftly coming to an end. Though the weather has played many tricks on us this season I am still determined to support my traditional notion of cooking soup during the fall. As far as I’m concerned – it’s my right to expect and demand soup in the fall; I don’t care if it’s 90 degrees out with blowing Santa Ana winds. It may not make sense, but for goodness sake, if I feel like soup – it’s time for soup! Thankfully it has dipped below 60 degrees a few times, and we even got a bit of rain – which is excuse enough for me to haul out my big 12 quart stock pot and get down and dirty into making homemade stock. I romanticize stock-making because it is a truly fundamental kitchen art. And by art I mean something that is so natural, so casual, so rewarding and so gratifying that it satisfies the senses. The act of stock-making summons your creativity for future dishes (not just soups) and summons anyone in your house to the kitchen, asking “what smells so good!”
I set out to document three types of stock-making, for you to see, and they are included below. Two of the preparations (Beef and Vegetable) are of the traditional sort, and include roasting vegetables and/or bones in the oven, covering with water, and simmering for several hours with herbs, etc. For the chicken stock featured here, I chose to do something new for me (though it’s not new at all) and utilize a pressure cooker to speed-up the process. I won’t go into the science of pressure cookers here, nor the (understandable) fear of pressure cooking in general, however I will tell you that I was extremely impressed with the quality of the stock given the time invested. Regardless of how you set about making stock, traditionally or non-traditionally, I think it’s important to branch-out and try something new if you haven’t attempted it before. Homemade beef stock makes the best French Onion Soup. You cannot replace the depth of flavor it brings to your dish. One more example: store-bought vegetable stock. Stop and think for a minute. Remember what it tastes like? You probably don’t. This is likely because after smelling it you decided to add it to your dish and pray that synergy would occur amongst the other ingredients. Don’t feel bad if this has happened to you. I’ve done it as well. But the revelation of a true, flavorful homemade vegetable stock that you would be happy to drink out of a cup? To paraphrase Martha Stewart: It’s a Good Thing.
We have included photographs and descriptions of the steps to make beef, chicken and vegetable stock and have included the recipes below and in our new recipe column. We hope you take the time to try one or all of these recipes, because they are truly warming and soul-satisfying, if not in process alone. Think about how many times you cook and use store-bought stock in your kitchen. Think how nice it could be to reach into your freezer, remove a quart of frozen stock, and get going on a recipe made more fabulous by the work you had done weeks before. Rissoto? Check. Homemade gravy? Check. Chicken soup on a rainy day? Check.
If you want to read a truly romantic piece on the subject of stocks and broth, read the January 2012 article “Food Lover’s Cleanse” from Bon Appetite, written by my favorite Canal House ladies Christopher Hersheimer and Melissa Hamilton. http://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/article/the-canal-house-cleanse
Have fun making stock soon, and let us know if you have any questions that we haven’t answered here! We would love to hear from you!
Roasted Vegetable Stock – Recipe and Gallery
Makes about 4 quarts
Making your own vegetable stock is worth the effort because the result is fresher tasting than canned or powdered alternatives. The longer you roast the vegetables, the darker and more strongly flavored the stock will be.
7 large carrots, unpeeled, cut into chunks
3 yellow onions, unpeeled, quartered
8 celery stalks, cut into chunks
1/2 lb. fresh mushrooms with stems intact, brushed clean and quartered
1 large baking potato, unpeeled, cut into chunks
2 cups plus 4 1/2 quarts water
4 to 6 fresh thyme or parsley sprigs, or a mixture
1/4 tsp. whole peppercorns, crushed
1 bay leaf
Preheat an oven to 350°F. Coat a large roasting pan with nonstick cooking spray.
Spread the carrots, onions, celery, mushrooms and potato in the pan. Roast for 45 minutes to 1 hour or for up to 1 1/2 hours if you want a more strongly flavored stock, stirring once or twice.
Remove from the oven and transfer the vegetables to a large stockpot. Add the 2 cups water to the roasting pan, then stir and scrape the bottom with a spatula to remove any browned bits. Add to the stockpot along with the 4 1/2 quarts water, thyme and/or parsley, peppercorns and bay leaf. Bring to a boil over high heat, skimming off any scum from the surface. Reduce the heat to low, cover partially and simmer for 2 hours.
Strain the stock through a sieve or colander into a large bowl. Discard the solids. Let the stock cool, then refrigerate for up to 4 days or freeze for up to 3 months.
Makes about 4 quarts
8 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley
6 sprigs fresh thyme or 3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
4 sprigs fresh rosemary or 2 teaspoons dried rosemary
2 dried bay leaves
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
1 pound beef-stew meat, cubed
5 pounds veal bones, sawed into smaller pieces
1 large onion, peel on, quartered
2 large carrots, cut into thirds
2 stalks celery, cut into thirds
2 cups dry red wine
Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Make a bouquet garni by wrapping parsley, thyme, rosemary, bay leaves, and peppercorns in a piece of cheesecloth. Tie with kitchen twine, and set aside. Arrange meat, veal bones, onion, carrots, and celery in an even layer in a heavy roasting pan. Roast, turning every 20 minutes, until the vegetables and the bones are deep brown, about 1 1/2 hours. Transfer the meat, bones, and vegetables to a large stockpot, and set aside. Pour off the fat from the roasting pan, and discard. Place the pan over high heat on the stove. Add wine, and use a wooden spoon to scrape up the brown bits; boil until the wine has reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Pour all of the liquid into the stockpot.
Add 6 quarts of cold water to the stockpot, or more if needed to cover bones. Do not add less water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a very gentle simmer. Add the reserved bouquet garni. Liquid should just bubble up to surface. Skim the foam from the surface, and discard. Simmer over the lowest possible heat for 3 hours; a skin will form on the surface of the liquid; skim off with a slotted spoon, and discard. Repeat as needed. Add water if at any time the level drops below the bones.
Strain the stock through a fine sieve into a large bowl. Discard the solids. Transfer the bowl to an ice bath, and let cool to room temperature. Transfer to airtight containers. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours, or overnight. Stock may be refrigerated for 3 days or frozen for 4 months. If storing, leave fat layer intact to seal the stock. Before using, remove the fat that has collected on the surface
Makes about 4 quarts
5 pounds chicken parts (wings, backs, legs, and necks), rinsed
10 cups water
2 large carrots, scrubbed or peeled, chopped into 1-inch pieces
2 large ribs celery, cut into 1-inch slices
2 large onions, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 dried bay leaf
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
Place chicken and water in an 8 1/2-quart stove-top pressure cooker and bring to a boil over medium-high. Using a ladle, skim impurities and fat that rise to the top. Add vegetables, bay leaf, and peppercorns.
Lock the lid in place. Over high heat, bring to high pressure. Lower the heat just enough to maintain high pressure and cook for 30 minutes. If time permits, let the pressure decrease naturally, about 20 minutes. Otherwise, quick-release the pressure by setting the cooker under cold running water.
Remove the lid, tilting it away from you to allow any excess steam to escape. Allow stock to cool slightly. Skim off fat if using immediately, or let cool completely (in an ice-water bath, if desired) before transferring to airtight containers. Refrigerate at least 8 hours to allow the fat to accumulate at the top; lift off and discard fat before using or storing stock.