Sunday, April 19, 2009
One thing a pantry shouldn't be without is stock. I always have a few cartons on hand for a quick potato leek soup, creamy risotto, or one of my favorite wintertime dishes, Italian beans and greens. All of these come together in a snap with the magic of store-bought broth. But lately I'm feeling haunted by the army of vegetable skins and nubs I throw away without a second thought. Oh sure, I've heard the merits of homemade stock and even encouraged others to have a crack at it. But I never managed to do it myself. For someone who tries to live sustainably and prefers making everything from scratch, I'm quite a hypocrite, aren't I?
This pretense has gone on long enough. About a month ago I was scrubbing and peeling a sizable amount of vegetables when the thought hit me: why not throw the scraps into a Ziploc bag and freeze them until I'm ready to give this homemade stock thing a whirl? Well folks, today is that day.
So I unearthed my gigantic stock pot and began sauteing a mirepoix (onions, celery and carrots). My frozen treasures came next. There were potato and carrot peelings, fennel fronds, mushroom stems, leek greens, turnip ends, Swiss chard stalks, onion skins and leftover celery root. Could it really be this easy? Whole peppercorns, bay leaves, garlic cloves, salt and a generous handful of parsley were added for good measure followed by cold water to cover. My work was done. Now it was up to the stove to patiently turn that motley crew of scraps into liquid bliss.
And did it ever. The apartment filled with the unmistakable aroma of a grandmother's kitchen - anything smelling this good was surely a favorable sign. After straining out the vegetables, I was left with a rich, savory, brown broth, which is waiting patiently in the freezer for its unveiling. I'm thinking miso soup might be first on the docket.
I was so charmed by this experience that I'm ready to tackle homemade chicken stock. And fish bone broth (I've been wanting to make an incredibly indulgent cream of scallop soup for quite some time).
Watch out, I'm just getting started.