May 21, 2011

Taking (or making) Stock

*blows dust off this blog*  (Hey, the tag line does say 'recidivist'.)

Oh, hi! It's been a while, hasn't it? This is only the third post this calendar year! Yes, well, obviously I haven't been doing much in the way of new and interesting cooking. Isn't it sad? I don't know why I lose my interest in cooking when the weather is cold and there's not as much fresh produce available... oh wait. Yes, I do know. It's because I'm better with summer produce than with winter. Also because my Beloved isn't much of an experimenter with That Which is Strange To Him (because by definition it must also be Highly Suspect), and with just the two of us here, it's easier to stick with what's known, no matter how boring it might be.

So anyway. I've been a member of Rouxbe Online Video Cooking School for almost a year, and I'm sorry to say that, after a period of deep entrenchment, I have kind of let things slide for a while. But I went back this week, because I've had a hankering to make some stock. And since I didn't really have any suitable bones, I went for vegetable stock.

I've never made stock before. Well, unless you count boiling the Thanksgiving turkey carcass and calling the resultant liquid stock. Which I used to, but now I know better. (For one thing, boiling = bad when making stock.)

So I used the Rouxbe recipe for vegetable stock as a guideline, and it's simmering on the stove as I speak. (Bloody thing hit a boil while I wasn't looking, but I think I caught it quickly.)

I peeled and chopped carrots, parsnips, onions, and a pretty sizeable kabocha squash. Their recipe calls for celery root and leeks, but my local supermarket didn't have either of those, so I used fresh celery instead, and shrugged about the leeks. (Note to self: next time you do this, go to the veggie market not the supermarket. PS: try to make that a habit anyway you lazy thing.)

Next, I roasted the vegetables. This is an optional step, but I figured, in for a penny, in for a pound, so I tossed it all in enough olive oil to coat but not drown, topped with a few heads of garlic sliced in half horizontally, and off it all went, in to a 400-degree (F) oven, for as long as that might take.

It didn't take long. The garlic was golden before anything else, so I plucked the heads out and chucked them in my stock pot, then stirred the rest of a bits to turn them, and put them back in the oven for a few minutes, before removing them, too, and plunking everything - now delightfully soft - into the stock pot.

I topped all of this with some roasted corn on the cob (cut into 1.5-inch slices) and roasted tomatoes (quartered and seeded), which I had to roast separately because my oven wasn't big enough for that many pans at once. Then added water to cover the veggies by about two inches. Then added a bouquet garni of fresh parsley, whole peppercorns, bay leaves, and a bit of dried thyme (because I didn't have, and couldn't find, fresh when I was out shopping yesterday).

I can't smell it from here, in the living room, but up close it's fantastically aromatic and I'm looking forward to using it in something. Goodness knows what, but I'll think of something. It's got about another 40 minutes to simmer, and then I'll remove the solids, strain, and cool before storing. And I'll have made my first proper stock!


  1. It works really well to save your vegetable ends (and in the case of onions and garlic, the skins) for use in vege stock. I put my carrot and celery butts into a bag that I keep in the freezer. Mushroom stems go there, too, unless the mushrooms are fresh enough when I'm using them to be good eating. Bell pepper cores. The ginger I let get dried out. Just like with meat stock, the best stock comes from the trim, parts you don't want to eat normally. If I don't eat enough vege variety, it comes out mostly onion/mushroom unless I add in some not-trim.

    The recipe I use says to leave the solids in until the stock cools, then strain.

    The roasted bits must have made a very tasty stock! I need to remember that!

  2. I started keeping my off-cuts and stuff, too, in a bag in the freezer, but by the time I actually got around to making the stock, they were all a bit freezer-burnt. I think I need to have a deadline in mind when I start saving things to make stock from. :)

    I think I'm going to use the stock to make my very first risotto. That's my plan, anyway. Fingers crossed.