Monday, March 12, 2012

Stock!


Left to myself, I could eat stir fry just about every day. This image shows some of the preparation for a stir fry tonight. Not in view is the chicken, which I cooked separately with a spicy ginger sauce for my wife, and served to her as a side dish for the main event: brown rice and stir fried vegetables and mushrooms.
This post, however, concerns itself with what's in that yogurt container.

Scraps for stock.
No doubt, some of the readers of this blog already do something like this. But for those who don't, let's join together and let them in on a wonderful secret: making fresh vegetable stock is easy and suffuses your home cooking with added flavor.
It isn't hard to do. As I prepare a meal, I have this yogurt container out and I throw mushroom stems, ginger peels, and various vegetable trimmings in there. When prep is done, that goes into the refrigerator for the next day's stock.
Today's stock, meanwhile, would already be simmering on the stovetop. Water in a very gentle simmer for at least an hour. It might also include water left over from cooking vegetables. I put stock on at the same time I put on brown rice (which takes an hour itself) and just check occasionally to make sure it hasn't gone to a boil. That's it.
Most of what I need to know about vegetable stock, I learned from Ed Brown's wonderful book Tassajara Cooking, a copy from the original 1973 printing, which I regard as a treasured possession even though it's been splattered with food stains over the years.
Vegetable scraps: almost anything--ends, tips, tops, trimmings, roots, skins, parsley stems, outside cabbage leaves, limp vegetables. Go easy on the green pepper centers. Some people find a large amount of onion skins or carrot tops makes too strong a flavor. Water to cover.
It's important that this brew simmer rather than boil. Simmering means a few wee bubbles are popping gently to the surface -- a quiet, subdued leaching process, while boiling means that the entire surface is in turmoil, bubbling and frothing. Vegetables do not endure boiling very well, soon yielding their more rank flavors and aromas, so bring the stock to a simmer and then turn the heat low enough to keep it there, or you will have a harsh-flavored stock.
Let the stock simmer an hour or more, and then strain out the vegetables, squeezing or mashing out the last juices. Use in place of water for soups, or for cooking vegetables, grains, or beans. If not using immediately, leave uncovered until cool, then cover and refrigerate.
It keeps for a couple of days in the refrigerator, if you don't use it right away.
Here's a photo of that quiet, subdued leaching process.


3 comments:

Petteri Sulonen said...

Yes! Boil your compost before composting it!

We do this too. We also sometimes throw the scraps in the freezer if there aren't enough to be worth boiling.

Kelly said...

We have two containers on our counter, one for dog scraps and one for composting. Maybe I should try making broth sometime.

quid said...

Fascinating. I make my own chicken and ham stock, but add organic vegetable stock I buy in the grocery store! Will have to give this a try.