Making stock is easy enough – bones, vegetables, herbs, seasoning, then simmer simmer simmer. For a long, long time. And therein lies the problem – can you afford to be housebound for eight hours or so while you wait for all that boney, marrowy, veggie goodness to leach out?
We’ve heard some people talk about making stock in a pressure cooker. You can cut the cooking time down to an hour and a half, maybe less, which should fit in nicely with your TV watching. But do you have a pressure cooker? No, neither do we. But we do have a slow cooker, or crock pot, as featured in our last episode. In this latest instalment of our Adventures in Slow Cooking we find another way to put it to good use.
You can simply follow the stock recipe of your choice – here we used fish bones, left over from a delicious curry that involved fillets of sea bass. We tossed it all in, though we’ve since been told you should remove the eyes, and maybe the gills too. We didn’t brown the bones in any way – it’s fish, after all – but you probably would with beef bones. Basic stock vegetables, herbs and seasoning went in as well.
The resulting stock was to our liking, though slightly cloudy even after being double-strained to remove all solids. This may have been the gills and eyes, or possibly just that we left the cooker on high, which keeps it at full power, rather than the automatic setting, which maintains a simmer just below boiling. I have read that stock does go cloudy if boiled, so a lesson learned there. Initially we set the cooker on low, but it was taking ages to heat up. Maybe this would be fine if left overnight, though.
I have since made a chicken stock by tossing in a carcass left over from a roast dinner. It couldn’t have been easier – as with the fish stock, halve an onion, chop two carrots and a stick or three of celery, add some thyme and bay (the only herbs we had lying around), toss it all in with some parsley, fill near to the top with water and switch on. The resulting full-flavoured stock was used straight away for chicken noodle soup, bulked out with the last pickings of meat from the bones, as well as a fresh chopped carrot or two, some celery, and broken spaghetti for the noodles.
One word of warning: don’t fill it to the brim with water. The ingredients will release some moisture and the level will rise, so it could overflow.
Apart from that, happy crocking!
Oh, and some good news. We’ve been adding older episodes to the iTunes feed, which means you can now get most of them for your iPod, iPhone etc. The video quality is a bit lower, because they were filmed before the video iPod was invented … but they are still quite watchable. Next time you update the podcast in iTunes, the old episodes will appear down the list.