Monday, 5 July 2010

I fight my demons, vol. 1

I have my kitchen demons that I fight for years such as making typical Polish complicated birthday torts with many layers. Also, I made myself think that making my own choux pastry is too difficult and to make homemade puff pastry I should take al least three days off work and possibly I will ruin it anyway. All of those exist in my head and I can get over fear of making them.

Few months ago I was given a great recipe for homemade stock made from veal bones but I could not make it due to the lack of the main ingredient. Also, I thought it is too fussy, too complicated and time consuming. Possibly I was looking for an excuse.

Again, I saw similar recipe few weeks ago - with beef bones this time. Finally I decided to go to the local butchers and ask about bones. This is how I end up with huge bag of marrow bones in my car boot on Friday night (thank you very much Kevin & Gary!). There was no going back, as my freezer is full - I had to make the stock.

I show you to how to make a real beef stock, which is a beautiful ingredient for French onion soup, and can be reduced by 2/3 to demi-glace - a base for many sauces, that converts into a jelly when chilled down. I could not wait to taste it so I added some of this stock to our beef goulash on Saturday and my partner immediately tasted the difference. You may thinks that you do not have a time to make your own - please slow down the everyday race, perhaps from busy work to supermarket where you buy ready made stock, relax and for a few moments look at bones in huge stock pot - it is worth it.

Real beef stock

Makes approx. 2 litres

4 meaty beef bones with lots of marrow, preferably the knuckle bones, cut to expose the marrow
2 onions, unpeeled, halved
whole bulb of garlic, unpeeled, divided into cloves
3 carrots, unpeeled, cut into inch chunks
leek, cut into 4-5 pieces
3-4 celery sticks, cut into pieces
250ml dry white wine
about 250ml tinned tomatoes, skinless, chopped
handful of fresh herbs - I used thyme, parsley and 2 lovage leaves
3 bay leaves
tsp whole black peppercorns

Heat the oven to 250C. Place the bones into a roasting pan and roast in the oven for about 45 minutes. Next add onions, garlic, carrots, leek and celery and roast for further 20 minutes. The bones should be browned but not burned so turn the heat down if they begin to char.

Remove from the oven and place the meat and vegetables in big stock pot together with herbs, bay leaves, peppercorns and tomatoes.

Remove the fat from the roasting pan and add the wine to the pan and use the spatula to scrap up all of the browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Next add to the stock pot. Add enough water to cover the meat. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat to the lowest level and simmer uncovered for about 4 hours. Do not stir.

Remove from the heat and sieve using a couple of layers of cheesecloth, to make sure all the solids are strained . Place the pan with the stock in iced cold water to cool down - the fat will risen on the top and solidified. Remove all the fat from the top using few tablespoons chilled in a freezer. Discard the fat; if you want you can use it to make savoury pies pastry.

Cool down completely, divide into a portions and place in a freezer.

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