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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Way different and so much better.

  So for a while now I've been wanting to write some posts on homemade stock.I looked all over the internet and in my cookbooks here at home for the stock recipe that just seemed right to me.I wanted recipes that were simple,straight-forward and well to be honest that I could make in one night (or weekend afternoon).
     I bought a lovely book this fall called Urban Pantry by Amy Pennington. Get. It. Amy. This is a fantastic book that by a pretty talented lady.I got a chance to read it cover to cover on a trip last fall to my sister's house in Kentucky.The cookbook has recipes for "thrifty,sustainable and seasonal kitchens" and it had a great vegetable stock recipe.Simple,rich and easy. Please and Thank You,Amy .
   I figured (for some unknown reason,but I went with it) chicken stock was a good place to start,so I made some chicken stock.The recipe is from this Urban Pantry cookbook I've been raving about recently and it's simple,rich and easy.When I was making the chicken stock (which actual prep/work time is about 30 minutes tops) I saw the pieces comes together and well I knew this would be fun.The idea is to "cook" the chicken bones,veggies in some olive oil,get 'em nice and brown.
Amy uses cooked chicken bones in her recipe and that's genius folks.
  There is still flavorful,fatty goodness on those cooked bones and it's also being resourceful.I can't tell you how many times I've tried remember to save raw chicken pieces be it from a chicken or turkey and then remember to set them aside and freeze them?!?!
good gravy.
Then I saw it,the recipe asked for cooked chicken bones,done.I got this.
Well I made the chicken stock,realized how easy it was and knew I had to make more.I turned the page in my new favorite cookbook and there it was vegetable stock.Well I'll be darned,it ask for just about the same ingredients as the chicken stock,MINUS the chicken and took even less time.I'll start with the vegetable stock and then we'll move on to chicken,then beef stock.The recipes are a little work the more ingredients you have in your stock,but the work pays off,trust me here.The flavor difference made in a bowl of soup is well...awesome.Get out your veggies and let's do this:
I chopped up a carrot,onion,celery stalk and smashed some garlic cloves.
Gathered together the rest of the ingredients: splash of vermouth,a dried bay leaf,some whole black peppercorns and some herb stalks (rosemary,sage,thyme and oregano).

Heated up some olive oil in the biggest cooking pot I had,well technically I have the big pot that I process jars of canned goodness in,but it's not for cooking,just processing.It's humongous,...I digress sorry 'bout that.
   So your heat up your olive oil,brown the vegetables and RESIST THE URGE TO STIR THE POT.JUST LEAVE IT ALONE PEOPLE! The brown,caramel-color crusty edges on the vegetables is what you want,that's your flavor base.(I used a non-stick pot and at the time this is all I had,it worked pretty well .AND because it was non-stick I let the vegetables brown a minute or two longer. The nonstick coating doesn't necessarily encourage brown bits,but you will have some on the bottom of the pot. That's enough.) The brown bits at the bottom of the pot makes this stock sing.
    The nice thing about this stock recipe is that I got to use some herbs from my winter garden,fresh herbs that are toughing it out on my screen porch. Rosemary,thyme,sage and oregano. Oregano is a doozy fresh,it's fairly strong and if you use too much in a recipe,your lovely whatever dish will taste more like floor cleaner than goodness.BUT! when I realized the volume of flavors and liquid in this recipe I ran to the flower pot of oregano and started snipping. You could easily get away with just using parsley I think,but having the herbs on hand was a really special addition.(this spring/summer we will talk about herb gardens,they are fairly inexpensive and pay off big thyme  time.)
   So here's the recipe for Vegetable Scrap Stock and after you've made and frozen your stock,we'll talk about this soup recipe that you should make with the vegetable stock.If you have any vegetarians in your life they will love this soup,but first make the stock. Enjoy!
Vegetable Scrap Stock
adapted from Amy Pennington's recipe
  in her cookbook Urban Pantry
Olive oil
1 carrot,roughly chopped
1 onion,roughly chopped
1 celery stalk,roughly chopped
1 clove garlic,smashed
Splash of vermouth or dry white wine
1 fresh or dried bay leaf
herb stalks
a few whole black peppercorns
1. Cover the bottom of a large stockpot with olive oil and heat over medium-high heat. Add the carrot,onion,celery, and garlic. The trick here is trying to resist the urge to stir continuously . Instead let the vegetables sit on the heat and brown some,about 10 minutes. Splash vermouth in the pan,stirring to deglaze and scrape up all the brown bits on the bottom of the pot. Cover the vegetables with 2 inches of water. Add the bay leaf,herb stalks and peppercorns and bring the mixture to a boil.
2. Reduce the heat to low and cover simmering for 1 hour. Set a fine-mesh strainer or a large mixing bowl and drain the stock from the solids. Compost the solids if you want. Put the stock in the fridge until it cools.Once cooled,use within 3 days or store in plastic containers in the freezer for up to 4 months.

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