Meatycake, Meatycake, Butcher Man

Stockcakes

Day by day, it’s getting colder and colder, and becoming more and more apparent that summer is long gone.  With that shift in seasons, we spend a little less time cooking outside on the grill, and a little more time indoors baking, braising and stewing, etc.

One of the indicators that typically signals the arrival of fall for me is my willingness to spend time making homemade stock.  Such a steamy, sweaty endeavour would be out of the question during the dog days of summer, but in the fall when days are brisker and nights hold a chill, warming the air with rich, meaty scents sounds like a wonderful, reflective idea.  It also happens to appeal to my waste-not-want-not mentality.  Each time I make stock, I continually marvel at the amount of flavour you can extract from little more than kitchen scraps.  And with such a small amount of effort, you can improve just about every dish you add it to.  Bored of rice?  Simmer it in stock.  Making mashed potatoes?  Boil those in stock first, too.  Deglazing pan juices?  Stock can do that.  In just about any cooking application where you would use water or wine, stock makes a flavourful stand-in.

But, before we get to the meat of the matter, a few “suggestions” about making stock that will make life a little easier.

1) Be organic – I try to buy as much organic food as possible, mostly because I think it tastes better, but also because it’s better for me and the environment.  I usually try not to preach to others about why they should too, because I understand that some things about food are very personal matters.  In this case I’m breaking my rule, though.  If at all possible, try to use organic food to make your stock.  With something as simple and elemental as boiled bones and veg, imperfections easily come through, so starting with the best product possible will automatically put you ahead.

2) Save, save, save – If you roasted a chicken, save that cleaned carcass in a ziploc bag in the freezer.  Once you’ve amassed a few, you’ll be well on your way to a flavourful stock.  And don’t hesitate to add vegetable trimmings to the bag either, as long as they’re cleaned first.  Carrot peels, onion skins and celery leaves all make great additions to a stock base.

Roasting Is Best

3) Roast – Yes, you can make stock without roasting the veg or bones first, but why would you want to?  Roasting is a really easy way to add another layer of flavour, and only takes about an hour (most of which is inactive, anyway).  Plus, it imparts a richer hue to the finished stock.

Ready For Skimming

4) Season lightly – It makes sense not to season stock too heavily, especially at the beginning.  Stock is a liquid that reduces over several hours, so what might have tasted perfectly seasoned at first, will probably taste overly salty 3 hours later.  Leaving stock as a blank canvas also leaves you with more options once it comes time to use it, allowing you to season to taste then.

Straining Out Solids

By keeping those rules in mind, it’s really quite easy to make stock.  I’ll leave you with my foolproof method, which has been adapted over the years from The Joy Of Cooking and Food Matters.  Once it’s finished, you can use it immediately, keep some in the fridge, or do as I do, and freeze it into manageable portions (in my case, silicone muffin liners) for ease of use later.  Enjoy!

Nearing Completion

Foodie’s Roasted Chicken Or Beef Stock

4-5.5 lbs of meaty beef or chicken bones

1 chopped skin-on onion, or equivalent trimmings (about 1 c.)

1-2 chopped carrots, or equivalent trimmings (about 1 c.)

2 chopped celery stalks, or equivalent trimmings (about 1 c.)

cheesecloth and kitchen twine for bouquet garni

small bunch of parsley stems

6-8 sprigs of fresh thyme, or 1 tsp dried

1 bay leaf

2-3 celery leaves (optional if using in the trimmings already)

10 peppercorns

16 c. cold water

Preheat oven to 425*.  In a large roasting pan, distribute meaty bones and veggie trimmings or roughly chopped vegetables and roast for an hour to hour and a half, shaking pan occasionally to evenly brown contents.  Once roasted, remove roasted bones and vegetables to an extra large heavy-bottomed pot with a slotted spoon.  Pour 2 of the 16 cups of water into the empty roasting pan and using a wooden spoon scrape any roasted brown bits up with the water.  Pour roasting water into the stock pot, and top bones and vegetables with 14 more cups of cold water, or enough to cover.  Assemble the bouquet garni by folding a small square of cheesecloth in half and filling with parsley, thyme, bay, celery leaves and peppercorns; tied closed.  Toss bouquet garni into stockpot, submerging under water.  Bring stock to a boil, then reduce heat and cover slightly, simmering on very low heat for 3-4 hours.  While simmering, occasionally skim foamy scum from the top of the pot with a slotted spoon.  Once finished, carefully strain bones and vegetables out of the stock and transfer stock to a clean bowl or pot.  If desired, reduce further to intensify the flavours, about an hour, or leave as-is and store.

Reduced stock makes about 48-60 stock muffin cubes (12-15 c. worth).

Prepping For The Freezer

Foodie’s Roasted Veggie Stock

4 chopped carrots, or equivalent trimmings (about 2 c.)

2 chopped skin-on medium onions, or equivalent trimmings (about 2 c.)

2 chopped skin-on potatoes, or equivalent trimmings (about 2 c.)

4 chopped celery stalks, or equivalent trimmings (about 2 c.)

3-4 cloves garlic, smashed

cheesecloth and kitchen twine for bouquet garni

small bunch of parsley stems

6-8 sprigs of fresh thyme, or 1 tsp dried

1 bay leaf

2-3 celery leaves (optional if using in the trimmings already)

10 peppercorns

12 c. cold water

Preheat oven to 425*.  In a large roasting pan, distribute veggie trimmings or roughly chopped vegetables and garlic and roast for an hour to hour and a half, shaking pan occasionally to evenly brown contents.  Once roasted, remove roasted vegetables to an extra large heavy-bottomed pot with a slotted spoon.  Pour 2 of the 12 cups of water into the empty roasting pan and using a wooden spoon scrape any roasted brown bits up with the water.  Pour roasting water into the stock pot, and top vegetables with 10 more cups of cold water, or enough to cover.  Assemble the bouquet garni by folding a small square of cheesecloth in half and filling with parsley, thyme, bay, celery leaves and peppercorns; tied closed.  Toss bouquet garni into stockpot, submerging under water.  Bring stock to a boil, then reduce heat and cover slightly, simmering on very low heat for 3-4 hours.  While simmering, occasionally skim foamy scum from the top of the pot with a slotted spoon.  Once finished, carefully strain vegetables out of the stock and transfer stock to a clean bowl or pot.  If desired, reduce further to intensify the flavours, about an hour, or leave as-is and store.

Reduced stock makes about 32-40 stock muffin cubes (8-10 c. worth).

Until next time…

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3 Responses to “Meatycake, Meatycake, Butcher Man”

  1. [...] Meatycake, Meatycake, Butcher Man | Foodie and the Everyman [...]

  2. [...] stock – with all those carcasses left over from Thanksgiving, now's the time to make stock. [Foodie and the Everyman] addthis_url = [...]

  3. [...] a couple of my frozen chicken stock cakes to the pan, I tossed in a handful of quartered baby potatoes, replaced the lid and braised it for [...]

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