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Snow Day! March 2, 2010

Posted by Toy Lady in Cooking, Food, random stuff.
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Last Friday morning, we got up and, once Peeps buried the Honda in the driveway, I knew it was “curtains” for any thought of my getting to work that day!  So here we were, with an unplanned day off.

Whatever shall we do?

Well, I had planned to make some beef stock over the weekend, so why not start it a day early?

Make hay while the sun shines, that’s what I always say. Or, you know, while the snow falls.  Whatever,

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Remember how I made that veggie stock a couple of weeks ago?  Well, since I hate to throw anything away that I don’t have to, I salvaged the bits and pieces of vegetable, uh, stuff, and shoved it in the freezer.

This is why.

Vegetable garbage is good.

PhotobucketHave I mentioned the public market, specifically the butcher at the market?

No?

There’s a guy there from Red Creek who, in addition to pork belly, also has bags of “dog bones” available on any given week.  Hey, bones are bones, and they’re always an important part of stock.  So, since we had a partial bag of bones in the freezer, we roasted them along with some tomato paste (for richness and color) and then browned the whole mess, along with some chunks of beef, as the base for beef stock.

PhotobucketAnd since it’s a snow day, while the beef bones are roasting and the beef is browning, what better time to toss together a by-the-seat-of-your-pants brunch?

How about a couple of poached eggs on top of a hash made up of some shredded potatoes, leftover rice, a scallion, and some diced lentil loaf?  With a couple of pumpernickel bagels salvaged from the freezer?

Hey, it’s a day for experimenting, right?  And believe it or not, that was . . . not bad at all.  Who knew lentils were that versatile?

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So, once the meat was all browned, I dumped the bones into the stockpot with the meat, and deglazed the whole mess with a cup or so of red wine.

Then we dumped into the pot the veggie (ahem) garbage, a quartered onion, a couple of cloves of garlic and a parsnip.

I’ll be honest – normally, I’d use a carrot or two, but I was out of carrots.  I’d planned to pick up a pound or two at the market Saturday, but, um, this was Blizzard Friday.  No carrots.  Oh well.

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And bring everything up to a simmer and just let it cook.

While you’re waiting, you could walk the dog.

You could shovel the walkway.

You could catch up on DVR’ed TV.

If you’re smart, you’ll just take a nap.

I’m evidently not so smart.  Opportunities missed – story of my life.

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Anyway.  Let your stock simmer (never boil) for a good 6 to 8 hours – we started it around 9-ish, and around dinner time (right before Peeps started the pizza), we pulled most of the solids out – the bones and vegetables and chunks of meat – then strained the rest into a couple of 6-litre containers.

And you know it – they spent the night in the back-up fridge – nestled in the snow outside!

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(This is why we make stock a couple of times a month during the winter and never during the summer – it’s a refrigeration issue!)

Now I suppose it’s not strictly necessary to skim the fat off the stock after you make it, but really, why not?  I mean, you can always add your choice of fat (butter, olive oil, bacon grease, whatever) to whatever you’re making later, if you’re so inclined, right?

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So, after chilling and skimming the fat the next day, I ended up with 8 quarts of raw beef stock – almost to the brim of my 8-quart pot.

Since I’d prefer a little more flavor, I decided to just bring the stock up to a simmer and let it cook for a few more hour.  All of the flavor components – the meat, the bones, and the vegetables – were gone; this is merely a matter of reducing the liquid and concentrating the flavor a bit.

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And, of course, a bit of enhancement never hurt!

Once the stock had reduced by a couple of inches, we added a “splash” of domestic sherry.

Not so much as to taste it – just enough to add a little . . interest, that’s all.

We let the stock simmer a little longer, then hauled out the canner.

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It probably seems like an awful lot of work for 5 (actually 5 and a half – there’s half a jar in the fridge that will be used later in the week for soup) quarts of beef stock, doesn’t it?  But remember – this stock if superior in flavor to anything you’re going to find in the supermarket.   Plus you know exactly what’s in it – you should, since you put it there!

And the beauty of the whole thing is that it was dumped together on a snow day, which really doesn’t even count, because it’s a day you should be wasting at work, but it’s like, free, you know?  You know what I mean, right?

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