Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Vegetable Stock

Vegetables by The Beach Boys
Ok - so if you've never had the pleasure of listening to this song, PLEASE, for heaven's sake, click on the link and watch this video.  The creators of the video use images of "vegetable art" to view as you listen to the song.  And they're very clever!  There's a cabbage head that looks a great deal like Roger Waters, in my opinion.  And the okra creation - well, let's just say it might take me a bit to be able to look at okra without a moment's pause.  But the SONG!!  It's quirky and clever and very cheeky.  And I love to blast it while I'm driving around in my convertible!  I like to give people a moment that they've probably never experienced before - and may not ever again!  Also, if you have kids, they will flat out love this song.

One of the topics I covered in the cooking classes
I taught while I was away
is how to make your own stock.


Good question!
At $4 a quart in the grocery store
it's a great budget stretcher - especially when you're probably
throwing out all the ingredients you need to make it -
not knowing their value.


For starters, it allows you to have that deep flavor you get
when you let a pot of soup simmer for hours or all day -
but without the soggy vegetables that tend to go with it!
Stock is also a time saver!
It allows you to have that "simmer all day
flavor" in a fairly quick meal.
While chopping vegetables with your family
as you chat about your day's activities
you can have dinner on the table in 30 minutes!
In addition, many dishes can be made more stellar
by using stock in place of water.
Cook rice or potatoes or polenta with stock 
and you've just upped your game!

The stock class was one of the last classes in 
my program because I wanted them to participate
in the habit of saving scraps as they go to be used for stock.
Each week as we did our vegetable prep for the various
dishes we were making, we'd have two buckets
in the middle of the counter.
One was for trash.
This included the trimmings not suitable for stock such as
cruciferous vegetables (a fancy name for veggies
like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale.)
The papery outer layers of onions should be tossed as well
because they can impart a bitter flavor to the stock.

The other bucket was for the stock scraps!
This would be the peelings and ends cut off of carrots and onions 
and celery.  Mushroom stems are also welcome.
The cores of peppers, stems and all, and tomato trimmings.
The stems of parsley can be saved as well.
If you make sure you've cleaned the veggies well before
prep, you can use almost everything you trim off.
And at the end of prep time, we'd put the contents from the
stock bucket into a freezer bag and toss it into
the freezer, where it waited until stock class.

This is a practice that you can employ in
your kitchen as well!

In commercial kitchens, this is a valuable
practice that helps increase revenue.
In the hands of a talented chef,
the scraps can be turned into the most
delectable items on the menu.
Woe be unto the staff member that is caught putting
valuable kitchen inventory
into the waste bin!

On the day of stock class, I hauled out all the
bags of trimmings from the freezer.
I also went through the vegetable bins in my refrigerator
and checked for other produce that wasn't spoiled
but maybe had become "tired" looking.
I'd wash it up and toss it into the stock pot as well.
If I had any bags of purchased frozen veggies with a
minimal amount left in it's bag, I'd use them as well.
It's a great way to tidy up the freezer!
I try to have some tomatoes on hand to add to the pot.
I might even roast them
in the oven first for added depth of flavor.
To roast vegetables, simply put them on a sheet tray
and toss in a small amount of olive oil.
Roast in a 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes,
until the edges just start to brown.
Remove and scoop into the stock pot, being sure to 
get all the juices that have accumulated in the pan.

After all the vegetables are added to the pot, I'd throw in
some herbs to join the bath!
Thyme works well as does sage and oregano, some bay leaves
and some black peppercorns, too.
Parsley is a must but you only need the stems.
You want to leave that step for when you use the stock
in your meal preparation.

Now you're ready to add water.
You'll want to cover the contents by about an inch.
The veggies will want to float but you can
still judge when you've added an inch above where they 
were before you started.

Put the pot on the stove over medium high heat and bring
just to a boil.  Reduce the heat and let simmer for about an hour.
Remove from heat and let cool a few minutes.

Line a mesh strainer with some cheesecloth
and place into a heat resistant bowl.
Pour the contents of the pot through the strainer.
Not all of the vegetables will fall out into the strainer,
but some will.
It's wise to do this step in a clean sink,
just in case you spill.
Lift up the strainer and let the juices flow through.
At this point, all the flavor and goodness has been
extracted from the vegetables so you can toss them
or use them for compost.

Next you're going to want to chill that
stock as quickly as possible.
Do not put it into the fridge or freezer to do this as it will
crash the temperature of either one
and put all your other food at risk of spoiling.
Instead, make an ice bath in a larger bowl or in 
your kitchen sink.
Stir often as this will circulate the cooler liquid from
the sides of the bowl into the center and facilitate
the cooling process.

Once cooled, pour the stock into freezable containers
and label with contents and the date and freeze.

Now you are only minutes
away from meals that taste like you've 
been slaving away all day!

Vegetable Stock 
Vegetables and scraps
Water to cover vegetables and scraps
Parsley stems
Black peppercorns
2 Bay leaves
Large stock pot

Place all ingredients in stock pot.  Cover with water.  Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for an hour.  Let cool a few minutes.  Strain through a mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth.  Cool in an ice bath and then pour into freezer containers.  Label and freeze.

1 comment:

  1. First, I have never heard this Beach Boys Veggie song!!!! loved the accompanying veggie crittter images. With the stock, I think this is definitely worth the savings of $4/qt. Great skill to have that I will be doing from now on! Ciel