Monday, November 16, 2009

Taking Stock

What it is, reader! Today when I peered into the fridge looking for dinner, a nearly naked carcass from a Whole Foods rotisserie chicken stared back. Because it feels like such an indulgence to buy these when you could roast your own for half the cost, I felt compelled to squeeze out every drop of chickeny goodness; it was time to make stock.

After picking off all the meat, and there's always more than you think, I threw it all, skin, bones, the whole nine, into a pot and covered it with water. I added veggies, avoiding anything that smells farty when you cook it, as it will not make for happy broth. That means skip all the cruciferous veggies: broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts, etc. Think of the things that make the house smell nice when you're cooking them: onions, garlic, carrots, mushrooms. Potatoes fall apart and make the stock cloudy, so I would skip those as well.

I keep a big ziplock going in the freezer with those kinds of things and when I have a full bag, I go for it. But just using the limp stuff in the fridge is fine, too, just cut out the obviously moldy or rotten bits. Add some black pepper to the mix, herbs if you have them, bring it to a boil, lower to a simmer and walk away. Eventually, your house will start to smell like comfort and love; bask.

When you're good and ready, pull out the big stuff with a slotted spoon or skimmer. Then it's time to strain. You could go all kinds of crazy straining but I just pour it through a fairly fine wire colander a couple of times. If you want it super clear, consider straining through a chinois. Here are some options for your viewing/buying pleasure. What you do with the fat is your call. I like it, so I leave it. If you don't, let the broth cool and skim it off.

Because I am looking for just a little stock at a time, after it has cooled, I pour it into ice cube trays. After they freeze thoroughly, crack them open and put them into a ziplock. Voila, broth cubes, ready when you need just a bit of liquid but water won't do.

And in the word of the uber laid back cook Mark Bittman: worry less, cook more. Amen to that!

Apropos of nothing, this bottle of 2006 Bogle Petite Sirah is so damn good. I first learned of the joy that is Petite Sirah nearly a year ago during a road trip you can read about here. Those bottles were $35+, but this one was about $10 at Trader Joe's. What's not to like?

No comments: