Sunday, May 27, 2012

Stock footage

One of the loveliest things you can do on a Sunday afternoon is spend a few hours making yourself a good batch of stock. Chicken is maybe the most useful, but beef is pretty good too for a stew or an awesome french onion soup – for both, you should make friends with your local butcher and ask them to hold onto some good bones for you which they’ll give you for cheap or even free sometimes. I’d recommend Lucia at Grey Lynn Butcher next to Kokako, but why would I want you taking my bones?

Rub your bones with a bit of oil (god I’m going to get some great google searches finding me thanks to that sentence starter) and do the same with a couple of onions and some chunked up carrots. Roast everything at 200 degrees (not overlapping, you don’t want any steaming action going on – use a nice big oven like my Samsung) until they’re browned. Then pack everything tightly into a pot and use just enough water to cover everything – too much water equals not-very-flavoursome stock, so make it your mission to pack things in so tightly, the minimum amount of water is necessary.

Throw in some parsley, bay leaves and thyme if you have some, and some peppercorns. Bring to the lightest simmering boil you can and leave it there for … well, 3-4 hours for chicken and as long as you possibly can for beef – my most knowledgeable cheffy friend does hers overnight and swears anything else is inadequate. If you want to do it for that long you might put it in the oven instead at about 120 degrees, but make sure it’s at boiling point before it goes in or it’ll never get hot enough. If you’re doing it on the stove and it boils over don’t worry – after all, you’ve got a Samsung induction cooktop which doesn’t heat up, so you can just wipe any liquid off with a cloth and it’s back to new, right?

Strain your stock then cool and skim off the fat if you can be bothered. I either refrigerate at this point or divide it into ziplock bags with about 250 ml in each, then freeze.

Chestnuts are still in season, just – try Farro, Avondale market or various Chinese curiosity shops – and they’re perfect with a good chicken stock, blitzed to make a soup. You can use them interchangeably with kumara in recipes, or try my made-up soup below, which I made last night and am doing again this evening - not much of a photo that one, sorry.

Sweat a chopped red onion in olive oil, add some diced up hot chorizo, and then throw in some parboiled, peeled chestnuts (this part takes some prep too but I found a great method of making this easier here). Add a couple of crushed juniper berries and a slug of brandy. Stir off the alcohol, add a little pepper and then pour in enough of your chicken stock that you’ll have the consistency you want at the end. Simmer until the chestnuts are cooked then blitz it. Chestnut and chorizo soup: incredible.