Thursday, March 27, 2003

One month. All I can think of is stock and broth.

A correspondent writes:

I've got a bunch of bones and fat in the freezer because I thought I'd try boiling them to make broth. Any tips? One thing I'm wondering about is the ratio of bones to water.

Roast dem bones till they are brown, with the fat rendered out and any remaining adhering tissue is thoroughly roasted (***not*** blackened). We want crusty steak outside texture. Parboil and peel a few plum tomatoes. Save the peels, discard the tomato-seed caviare, chop the nekkid 'maters up. Don't use brainy, mealy 'maters. Roast a mirepoix (chop some onions, carrots, celery, chopped nekkid 'maters, spray on a little spray-fat) till the vegetables are browned and limp. Keep in mind that the vegetables and bones will roast at different rates.

Put dem bones in a deep stock pot with twice as much water as is needed to cover, and raise the temperature slowly until the water is at a slight simmer. Put the tomato peels in the water with the bones. Have a skimmer handy, and a kitchen towel. Over the next hour or so, skim the water constantly - we want to pick up and remove the light floaty proteinaceous particulate, and the tomato peels help us do that. Clean the skimmer between skims. With the towel, wipe down the sides of the pot where light floaty proteinaceous particulate adheres. When skimming seems pointless, add the roasted mirepoix and keep the stock at a mild simmer for six or seven hours. Add a few peppercorns and a couple bay leaves (laurel) if you like.

When everything is bien consommé (you will smell it. boy will you smell it), turn the heat off and degrease with paper towels. Wipe down the sides of the pot where the grease adheres.

Then, slowly, ladle out the stock into containers or ice cube trays (to have real stock cubes handy for cooking, not Herb-Ox atrocities) or serving bowls or whatever, leaving the bones'n'veggies as undisturbed as possible so that bone bits and veggie chunks don't break loose. Discard spent bones and veggies.

Voila. The best broth/stock you'll have had outside a good restaurant.

BTW, if you can get fresh turkey necks and chicken necks (ask your butcher), roasting them for the soup is very nearly ideal. You'll get a deeply flavored, rich broth that is the essence of turkeyness, or of chickendom. If you can't or won't buy necks, use chicken thighs and turkey wings. Beef short-ribs or shanks are perfect for beef-tea, while veal necks and shanks are what for veal stock.

And yes, I've got two pounds of turkey necks, a pound of chicken necks, and a pound of turkey wings in my frigidaire, for when I feel the need for brothy refreshment. (Also, stock cubes.)

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