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Essential Stock - with a little cheating !

Arthur Huxley - 15-07-2017

Ok. We all understand that the basis for your special beef casserole, chicken ragout, sauce or soup is a good stock. It is the blank canvas from which you can build wonderful flavours from your own creativity. And in the end, provide the "flavour" background for your finished dish.

All good and understood - the principle is perfect and ageless and as our great Chefs will explain, very necessary.

But do you, busy Home Chef and Spice Roads Subscriber have 7 - 8 hours to scrub and blanch the bones, then endlessly skimming the barely simmering liquid, adding the vegetables after 5 hours, removing the developing scum from the top and finally sieving the thing to remove the tinniest bits until the stock is crystal clear, so as not to cloud your dish or show any greasiness.

And our great Chefs are correct. You will find many classic recipes for the true and perfect stock.

However, there is another way you can approach this within your available time. The trick is to fudge or cheat the classic process a little.

To start, take the beef or chicken bones keeping any bits of meat and rub with a good quality olive oil. We recommend TOSCANA olive oil. (ref. Many Makers from Many Kitchens in our website) Place in a baking dish along with carrots, celery, brown onions, fresh thyme, fresh parsley and tomato puree over the vegetables and place in a hot oven, say 180.

Bake for 30 minutes until the bones and vegetables are a toasted brown then place in a pot of hot water to cover the ingredients and simmer gently for 1 - 11/2 hours.

Sieve the stock - a cheese cloth would be good - and place in a refrigerator. As the Stock cools remove any fat from the surface. Your Stock will have a soft brown colour and ready to add flavour richness to your casseroles, soups or sauces. Don't be put off by any cloudiness in either the beef or chicken Stocks. It will not harm your dish.

It is important to note that the flavour comes from the meat while the bones add the gelatin for thickening, so leave any bits of meat on the bones. If necessary, add a little minced beef or chicken pieces to bring up the flavour.

Chicken Stock follows the same procedure as the beef Stock. Again, ignore the cloudiness. Not exactly classic but really, no big deal.

An idea is to place the Stock into small batches and freeze. The following are the essentials for your Stock :

Beef or chicken bones

Carrots, halved

Celery sticks, Fresh Thyme, Fresh Parsley

Brown Onions, loosely diced, Tomato puree

And you will be 5 hours richer !

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