Wednesday, September 12, 2012

TAKE STOCK


A chicken stock, perfect for braises, risottos, stews and soups                                                                             Me

Nothing beats a good stock, it can really make a dish. Homemade stocks are definitely best, but I‘m not one of those who turns their nose up at a stock cube, if that’s all you have time for, I say, ‘go for it’.

I can’t have my say about stock without having a giggle at my friend Anton’s expense.

Anton is a gentle giant who is as down to earth as a bloke can get.  When it comes to a chow, he is also pretty down to earth, the type who doesn’t get caught up in all that fancy food malarkey.
One fine day, Anton thought, ‘today is a good day to make my first stock’. Now Anton had heard that the longer the bones bubble away, the more intense the flavour would be. So Anton patiently let the stock simmer away and every now and then he would add a bit more water. Such was Anton’s patience and desire for perfection, that one fine day, turned into two fine days, but the third day was the opposite of fine, coz when flavours had intensified to a ridiculous deliciousness, Anton prepared for the final process. He placed a colander in the sink, and with excitement was reaching fever pitch, he tilted the stockpot over the strainer and poured the precious liquid down the drain and kept the bones. What a silly man!

This is my Basic Stock Recipe.

Wot you need
- any one of the following: chicken carcass/crayfish shells/whatever bones are left after Sunday’s roast / fish skeleton, heads, tail and fins / tough mushroom stems – you get the point (if you have got a section of white wine left over for the party the night before pour it in too, or half a lemon, use up whatever is around, but do AVOID potatoes, turnips, butternut - basically anything that will make the stock cloudy. Also DON’T add any of the Brassica family broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower, coz long cooking makes them stink.)
-  water
- 1 large carrot sliced
- 1 head of sliced celery, leaves and all
- 1 large onion chopped
- a few cloves of garlic
- 1 leek sliced (only, if you’ve got)
- a couple of bay leaves
- a sprig of thyme
- about 8 whole peppercorns
- some parsley, stalks and all (only, if you’ve got)
- a few bay leaves

A crayfish stock, so good in chicken pot roast.            Me
Wot to do
 If you want to go the extra mile, roast the bones in the oven at 180°c for about 20mins, but it’s no train smash if you don’t. Chuck all the ingredients into a large pot (if you don’t have all the ingredients, don’t worry, coz the sun will still rise tomorrow, and in any case, it’s your stock and you make the rules) and pour in water until everything is well covered.  Bring to a simmer and spoon off the scum when necessary. Simmer for a few hours, if you have got the time, or less, if you don’t. If you are making a fish stock don’t simmer for longer than 20 mins, coz it’ll go cloudy. You may need to add a bit more water, if it’s looking a bit dry. When you get the feeling that ‘it’s time’, strain through a sieve. Just remember to catch your precious liquid, which you can refrigerate or freeze until needed.



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