Sunday, January 5, 2014

Stuck inside? Make stock!

Today, Indianapolis is having a snow storm.  Leading up to this, the weather people kept saying, "This will be a storm like that which most of you aren't old enough to remember".  Pretty sure they meant the Blizzard of 1978.  I remember that and although this is bad, it's not on par with the Blizzard of '78.  Yet.  I'll add 'yet' because it's not done yet.  Tomorrow, we're supposed to hit some record cold, below zero without windchill, temps.  Here is what we're seeing so far:

That is my husband and son out trying to clear the walk.  When they came in, there was an inch covering all this before they got their hot cocoa done.  

So, today, I am doing that type of cooking that I don't always have time to do.  To start with, I've made some homemade bread, it's rising now.  I am only letting one rise to bake now and the other loaves are now in the freezer.  Later on, I can just pop one out and toss it in the bread pan and treat it just like those frozen loaves you buy at the store. 

I am also making stock.  I'm starting with beef stock.  Mostly because veggie/beef/barley soup sounds good today.  I make a huge amount at a time and freeze the extra.  I freeze some in Ziploc bags in quantities needed for soup and some smaller amounts for stew.  I also freeze some in ice cube trays so if you need a shot of beef stock for gravy or Stroganoff or what have you, just pop a couple of cubes in it.  

Let's start with soup bones.  I am spoiled, when we have a cow butchered, I make sure and request as many soup bones as I can get.  I was stunned when I saw what passes for soup bones here in the city.  Here is a pic of what you see in the "regular" grocery stores in the city:

In all fairness, I did NOT go buy these.  I forgot to grab a pic at the store, I found this pic online and it is a fair representation of what you find in the grocery.  Here is a pic of what I get from the butcher with my cow:

Note all the meat on those!  When I get done making stock, this meat will be awesome in soup, stew, etc.  Even if you don't get a cow butchered, you can find soup bones, ham hocks and even regular cuts of meat at a true "butcher shop" that are a far superior quality.

As with most cooking in my house, it starts with this:

It's important to season and brown the soup bones.  Yes, brown the bones.  Even if you're working with bones from the grocery.  Browning adds flavor.  As for seasoning, I just work with salt, pepper, garlic powder and some paprika.  Brown all sides, this will pay off in flavor later.

The veggies I include for making stock are onions, green peppers, leeks, carrots and celery.

It takes more than this for the quantity I make but I forgot to take a pic before I put it in the pot so I made a plate of a little more.

Seasoning is salt, peppercorns, bay leaves, garlic.  Same deal, I forgot the picture at first!  LOL

Then it is just a matter of putting it all in a pot of cold water, bring it to a boil and then reduce the heat to simmer it.  

I will let this simmer for several hours.  If you use a smaller stock pot, it won't go as long.  I like to start with a lot and let it reduce as it brings all that flavor our of those bones and veggies.

I like to separate the grease off of the stock.  I broke my grease separator and haven't gotten a new one yet.  Here is what that looks like:

I am not venturing out to get one of these.  What you can do instead is to cool the broth refrigerate it, the grease will rise to the top and harden.  I should add that this is AFTER I remove the meat/bones and as many of the veggies as I can.  The grease is easy to remove after it is refrigerated.  This method will also let anything settle to the bottom that can't be strained out.  If you then use a ladle to dip the stock out and put it in the Ziplocs or the ice cube trays, then all the stuff that settled to the bottom stays there.  If, like us, you're not as picky on this just leave it, it will be ok.

I generally give the veggies that I pull out, once cool, to the dogs.  They've been cooked to smithereens and at this point pretty much taste like the stock.  My hounds love it!  I will pick the meat off the bones and generally this is yield enough meat for more than one pot of soup, I just take whatever I don't need right away and, you guessed it, put it in a Ziploc and freeze it for later.  Having the broth and some meat tucked away in the freezer is awesome if you have one of those nights where you need something quick and easy.  Just toss it in a pan together and when it comes to a boil, add egg noodles and you have beef & noodles.  It's great too for those weeks where you know you're going to have a busy week and you can just plan on using this quick meal!

By the way, the whole house smells amazing while this is cooking!


  1. I have been waiting for you to Blog your Amazing and Mysterious Cooking Secrets for years My Friend! It's like a New Year's Gift to all the Earth from Dee :).