The Cuisinettes love January and February. It’s calm and peaceful, gray and windy. Time to binge watch some streaming TV series or read books that were given as gifts. And it’s time to take advantage of all those frozen bones and bits in your freezer. You did save them, right? You can wring an extra inch from the dollars you spent on more expensive sustainable meat and poultry by saving your scraps in the freezer. Group beef bones and meat scraps together (veal can be included or done separately). Poultry bones and scraps should be grouped separately. Ditto lamb or pork.
Now you are ready to make stock and clarify it. So read below and let the winter magic begin!
A PRIMER FOR MAKING STOCK
Although you can’t make stocks as you would in a restaurant with fresh scraps and bones, but by storing roasted meat and poultry leftovers, bones, and even mushroom stems, onion peelings, limp celery and onions in your freezer, you can produce lovely stocks to use in soups and sauces, and ultimately crystal clear broths for multiple dishes such as Vietnamese pho, Italian brodo, and French bouillon,
You’ll need about 6-8 lbs of bones and trimmings and enough water to cover same by 2 inches. That is roughly 6 quarts of water plus the Holy Trinity of Stock Making: 1 large yellow onion, 2 stalks celery and a large carrot.
In addition, you can stick a few cloves in the onion for beef and pork stocks. A tomato or two is a nice option too. A few pepper corns, a bay leaf and parsley stems or thyme sprigs are nice additions. You can fashion your own “bouquet garni” by sandwiching bay leaf, herbs, peppercorns and carrots halved lengthwise in between the celery stalks and tie it with trussing twine.
We’ve learned a lot from reading one of our favorites, The Zuni Cafe Cookbook. Judy Rodgers advised the following:
Keep your heat at a medium simmer at all times.
Do not keep skimming the fat during the stock process as fat makes the end flavor richer. All fat will be removed when stock is refrigerated.
Salt early in the process. Taste and salt when straining your stock at the end. Cool your stock and refrigerate
You have lifted off the congealed fat and “sludge from your stock and put it in a pot on your stove. Take 3- 4 egg whites and whip them lightly. You can mix in egg shells as well. Then fold them into your stock. Your heat should be medium low. You only want the barest of simmers. Do not allow the stock to come to the boiling point. At the beginning, scrape the bottom of your pot so that the whites aren’t sticking.
At this point you allow it to barely simmer and you will see what they call a “raft”. Make a little peek hole as shown in the left photo. This allows you to check on the clarity of the stock without breaking the raft. The albumen sifts and lifts out all the muddy particles.
This will take about 20-40 minutes. Then strain your stock in a cheesecloth lined chinois and you will end up with a large bowl of clear, rich broth.
Purchase some tortellini and simmer in your broth. Julienne some vegetables or thinly sliced mushrooms and do the same. Reduce it further to create a sauce. It is the perfect thing to drink if you have a winter cold.