Monday, March 19, 2012

vegetable stock

Bonus recipe: Vegetable Stock

Making vegetable stock is basically the easiest thing in the world: put vegetables in a big pot, pour in water, and boil the heck out of them. But here's how I do mine, which is vaguely based on the recipe in Mark Bittman's magic book, heavily influenced by half-remembered advice from my mother, and more or less just made up as I go along. The ingredients on the list are the ones I used on Friday, but you can use pretty much whatever you have on hand. Bittman is a big proponent of including mushrooms, which I didn't have in my fridge.

1 large red onion, chopped but not peeled
2 russet potatoes cut into chunks
5 ribs of celery, chopped
3 carrots, scrubbed but not peeled, chopped into rounds
5 large cloves of garlic, inner peels left on
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
generous splash of soy sauce (optional; Bittman's recommendation)
1 pound (or so) of assorted peels, greens, and scrap, washed.

In a small amount of oil in the bottom of a very big pot, brown these vegetables just as much as you feel like browning them. Then throw in your pile of scraps. Mine for this batch of stock was a bundle of scallion tops and carrot peels left over from making fried rice on Thursday, plus the greens from a daikon radish, and a roasted beet that I'd frozen before spring break and thawed out in the fridge overnight.

Mix the scraps with your vegetables and pour in water until the pot is mostly full (I think Bittman recommends 14 cups? I used about 16). Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and keep at a brisk simmer for at least half an hour, or until the vegetables are mushy (Bittman says something like "very tender," which I find amusingly euphemistic). The longer you cook it, the more flavor you'll get.

Let the stock cool for a while and then carefully strain into storage containers, pressing the vegetables to get as much of the broth out as possible. I ended up with about twenty cups of broth, which is a lot. Two four-cup containers went into the freezer, and about four more cups went into ice cube trays (this is a Martha Stewart trick my mother told me about, and great for when you just need a little bit of liquid to add to a dish), and the rest went into a pitcher in the fridge to become the base of my leek and potato soup on Saturday.

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