Friday, January 6, 2012

Food Friday--Stock

I'm working to get healthier (not a New Year's Resolution, rather, a resolution that occurs at almost regular intervals throughout the year), and thought that one way to keep me focused would be through this blog. After all, quilters have to eat! I follow several quilty-foodie blogs and enjoy them, so I'm paying it forward, I guess.

Therefore, for awhile anyway, I'm going to designate Fridays as Food Friday. On Fridays I'll post a recipe or technique or something I've tried. Keep in mind: not an expert! This is just me and my kitchen. So here we go, for what it's worth.

Today I'm talking stock. Years ago, I remember my mother-in-law saying something to me like, "of course, when you make your stock after roasting that chicken..." and I just laughed. Me, make stock? Why, when I can buy it at the grocery store for just a couple of dollars and not have to spend hours in the kitchen? I was a whole lot busier then with little bitties in the house. I still use a lot of bought stock. It is faster, and it's relatively cheap.

But in the last few years I've started making a lot more homemade soups, and finally decided I really should at least try making homemade stock to see whether it made a difference. The first time I tried, it was a miserable failure. The result basically tasted like water that had a drumstick dipped in it for all of five seconds. "Essence of broth," maybe? A couple of years later, I did some googling and tried again. Still tasteless. I know it's not supposed to be much, but really. I could have run tap water and it would've had more flavor.

A few months ago, listener Carolyn from the U.K. sent me a stock recipe that a friend of hers uses--a friend who apparently knows her way around a kitchen! I went from there and then allowed myself to start playing. Thank you so much, Carolyn, and Carolyn's friend--it worked!

I seasoned mine more than you probably normally would a stock, because the way I use stock, I tend to like the same base flavors anyway. It's now more like weak soup than a true broth, but I'm a lot happier with it than my first attempts!

Sandy's Variant on Carolyn's Friend's Turkey Broth
  • 1 honking big turkey carcass (ok, size doesn't matter, but in my case, it was honking big)
  • Enough water to nearly cover the carcass. ( says allow a little less than 1 qt of water per pound of turkey, if you want a formula.)
  • 1 carrot, cut into chunks--I used two since my turkey was so big
  • 1 onion, quartered--I used two
  • 1 leek, sliced (Carolyn's friend's recipe had this--I left it out as I didn't have any leeks in the house.)
  • 1 celery stick, halved--I used two
  • salt and pepper to taste--you can skip salt if you need to go low sodium
  • Dried rosemary, thyme, sage, and I probably even tossed in some marjoram. (Tip here: Go through your spice cupboard with your nose--what smells like it belongs in there probably does. You could use fresh herbs tied together so you could pull them out after cooking. Carolyn's friend included parsley. I'm not a fan of parsley so I left that one out.)

Put everything in a large cooking pot and bring to a boil. Skim the surface to remove any scum, then lower the temperature and simmer gently with the lid on for about two hours. Strain the stock, cool, and remove the fat from the surface before using or freezing. (I removed fat twice--once before it went into the freezer, and then again when I was ready to use it.)

You may also have a lot of cooked meat now that you can pull off the bone and chop up for other uses. Messy, but worth it. My meat turned into turkey pot pie the next day...nummy.

Note: I couldn't get the lid on my pot because of aforementioned honking bigness, so I let it go without. This means more water loss, which intensified the flavor a bit, I think. But I still ended up with a lot of broth. I also let it go a little longer than two hours, mostly because I completely forgot about it. It's very forgiving that way. And the smell in your house while all this is going on? Undescribably delicious. My vegetarian daughter was a little creeped out but the rest of us were in heaven.

It's been in the freezer now since Thanksgiving weekend. Today I heated it up and made chicken noodle soup out of it. That'll be next week's recipe.

Do you have a favorite beef, chicken, or vegetable stock recipe? Leave it in a comment!