Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Veggie Stock

I'm quite a packrat, which is actually quite a good thing when it comes to making stock. Saving all the bits and pieces that are unusable in any other venue are perfect for a stock and it's a great way to reduce your environmental impact from your kitchen. So, I have a freezer bag labeled "Vegetable Stock" and it stays in my freezer collecting the carrot tops, celery leaves, parsley and thyme stems and odd bits of onion or other vegetables I have left over from my other cooking. Today I also threw in a random summer squash that was on it's last legs in the back of my crisper drawer, proving that stocks are a great way to use of leftovers of any kind.
This stock was very easy to make, it just takes quite a bit of time. My freezer stock bag included carrots (ends and tops as well as a few scraggly ones I apparently didn't feel worthy to add to some other dish), celery ends and leaves, onion ends and that outside layer you have to pull off to get to the good onion stuff, plus tons of parsley and thyme stems (no need for the leaves) and that chopped up summer squash I threw in at the last minute. For flavor, I added some salt, whole peppercorns and two bay leafs. Everything goes into the pot (the largest one you have) and the whole thing gets filled with water. Keep the lid on while you bring it to a boil, then remove the lid and bring the temperature down to low. Simmer the stock for about 4 hours, until the veggies are falling apart.
Next comes the fun part: straining! I only have one large stock pot, so I strained the liquid into my largest bowl. Place the strainer/collander into the bowl and the bowl in the sink. I like to remove the vegetables to a seperate bowl for easier pouring/ladeling. Once the liquid is seperated from the veggies, strain it into containers. I use quart containers from the deli counter, but any container will do. You can vary the amounts you use depending on your needs; I usually like to have at least 1 smaller container (mine is a reused Sauces N Love container) as well as 1 quart in the refrigerator and the rest in the freezer. You could even use freezer bags if you wanted. Just let them chill for a couple of hours, then squeeze the air out flatten as much as possible so the stock can be stored side by side, like notebooks*. Anyhow, to strain into the containers, use cheesecloth to remove the last of the impurities. I secure the cheesecloth over the opening with an elastic, then place the container in a bowl in the sink (can you tell that I'm a little nervous about losing any of this golden goodness?) You can definitely use the same piece of cheeselcoth for all the containers, just rinse it off if it gets too grimy looking ; )
So there you have it, a great, easy vegetable stock recipe you can use for ANYTHING! Try it in place of water or wherever you would noramlly use canned chicken broth. It adds a completely new depth and flavor to the most familiar foods. Look for the recipe I used it in: Risotto Primavera. It's coming soon!

No comments:

Post a Comment