Saturday, January 16, 2010

Day 306 - White Beef Stock

Martha asked me on the show if I blogged while I was cooking, and I had to laugh. My response was something like "I can barely cook while I'm cooking."

If anyone could watch me preparing a dish, even one as straightforward as this one, they would know how outrageous that idea is.

First of all, while I'm cooking, my kitchen is pretty much a tornado site. There's almost nowhere to rest a spoon, let alone a laptop.

My fingers are usually covered in something, if not soap and water, then oil or spice or garlic juice or flour or butter or lemon zest.

Not to mention, I'm usually scrambling to get to the next step in the recipe, dicing or washing or measuring or stirring. There's not nearly enough time or presence of mind to communicate anything worth reading.

No, Martha, I blog a day later, when I can sit and reflect and express myself "eloquently," as you were so kind to say. As you all may have noticed, each blog entry is dated the day after the actual day of the cooking. (Confession: sometimes I get lazy and write an entry two or more days after the fact, and then backdate it. Naughty, I know...)

I thought I should mention a feature on my blog that you might not be aware of: a search function. See that box up there on the top left of this page, right next to the orange "B" box? You can type in there to find occurrences of words on this entire blog. For instance, if you're about to cook Pear Chutney and you want to know what experience I had making it, type "pear chutney" in quotes in that box and then click on the magnifying glass icon, and that should bring up any mention of pear chutney in my entire blog.

Now, on to the food...

White Beef Stock (p. 42)

My memory of making "Basic" Brown (beef) Stock is not a happy one. It's smelly and time-consuming, and you don't end up with very much. I was so happy to discover later that I could substitute Brown Chicken Stock in most instances, which is somewhat easier to make.

The good news about White Beef Stock is that because you sidestep the whole browning process, the smelliness is not as big an issue. (For the record, I loved the way the Brown Stock smelled while it was cooking, but when I opened my gym locker the next day, and that cooked beef smell came wafting over me, and I realized it had seeped into all my clothes and furniture, it was not a pleasant experience.)

This recipe is a variation on the Basic Chicken Stock recipe substituting beef bones for chicken parts and including some other extra add-ins (garlic, parsley, and thyme).

Beware - this recipe calls for a lot of water, so you'll want to use a nice big pot. If you look closely at the picture, you can see that my eight quart pot was completely full once I'd added the vegetables.

This is a classic stock routine. Put the bones in, cover with water, bring to boil, skim, add aromatics, and cook for a week or so.

Just kidding. This stock requires a mere eight hour simmer.

I always feel bad about throwing away the solids. The vegetables are pretty dead, but there seemed to be some nice tender meat in there from the short ribs, so I tried eating some of it. It wasn't terrible, but it's nothing I could ever serve to anyone. Plus, I had to salt the heck out of it to get it to taste like something.

After straining, I ended up with not quite 3.5 quarts, just a little less than Martha predicted. Most of it is going to be used for Beef Consommé in a couple of days. The rest went into my near-capacity freezer. (!)

I didn't bother tasting it, because my experience with these stocks is that until they're salted, they don't taste like much. The color is darker than I expected, definitely brown and slightly cloudy, but not as dark and cloudy as the Brown Stock. I'll be curious to see what it looks like once it becomes clarified in the consommé....

Jeff: A
Martha: A

Until we eat again....

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