Slow-Cooker Vegetable Broth

vegetables for slow-cooker vegetable stock

Hmmm….if you can make chicken broth in the slow-cooker, why not vegetable broth? Turns out there is no reason, it just hadn’t occurred to my imagination yet. But thank goodness it did, because it’s my new go-to broth. An animal-free liquid gold poised to enhance any quinoa, risotto and of course soup that meets your heart’s desire. Last October I made a Fall Vegetable Stock that, while equally delicious, included more labor and I’ve learned that in the Texas heat you don’t go looking for more ways to exert yourself or let a simmering stock pot heat up your perfectly air conditioned home. Enter the slow-cooker. Your thermostat will remain constant and you won’t be chained to the stove when you’d rather be out by the pool sipping margaritas and devouring guacamole…..or at least that’s my take on the situation.

Besides the steamy 9 hour bath the vegetables lounge around in, the secret ingredient is coconut aminos. Often employed as an alternative to soy sauce, coconut aminos are nutrient dense, raw, gluten and soy free and are derived from coconut tree sap. When added to marinades, dressings or in this case vegetable broth they provide a rich, savory almost meaty flavor that adds a certain depth that cannot otherwise be achieved. They are inexpensive and found in the Asian section of the grocery. If you haven’t given vegetable broth a try, your golden moment is here. I dare you!

Slow-Cooker Vegetable Broth

Slow-Cooker Vegetable Broth

Ingredients

  • 1 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large leek, white and light green parts chopped into discs
  • 1 large onion, peeled and chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • 3 carrots, peeled and chopped into thirds
  • 3 celery stalks, peeled and chopped into thirds
  • 4 cremini mushrooms cut in half
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 10 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 10 sprigs fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley
  • 1/2 TBSP whole black peppercorns
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 3 quarts filtered water
  • 2 TBSP coconut aminos

Instructions

  1. Pour the olive oil in the bottom of the slower cooker pot.
  2. Add all the ingredients except for the coconut aminos.
  3. Set the cooker to low and cook for 9 hours.
  4. Strain the broth through a fine mesh sieve and discard the vegetables.
  5. Stir in the aminos.
  6. Enjoy within 3-5 days or freeze for 90.
http://www.glassjarsoupcompany.com/2014/08/27/slow-cooker-vegetable-broth/

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Summer Broth

summer broth

Yep! You heard me. I didn’t think it could get any easier to make this kitchen essential at home, I mean rotisserie chicken stock practically makes itself. But it’s true.  I recently came across a Cooks Illustrated recipe about the same time Paige sent me one from Smitten Kitchen that slightly adapted the CI version.  Looks like it’s all the rage and I’m late to the party!

I personally can’t imagine anything better than putting a few ingredients in a pot, going to bed and waking up to a home drenched in a golden homey aroma. But wait, there is a disclaimer. It will seriously mess with your head. Upon waking, you’ll expect to find a plump, rosy, gray haired woman at your stove tending a steaming pot while laying out a rustic country breakfast complete with French press coffee and fresh cream for you to enjoy….yet…she’s not there. Huh? Instead your little work-house of an appliance…the long resisted Slow-Cooker (you know who you are)….has been toiling away all night to produce a bright, clean chicken broth that will rival any “simmered on the stove for hours” version…including dear grandma’s.

I was pretty stunned that it was so good, especially considering that there are very few ingredients bubbling away in there. Chicken wings, water, onion and garlic. The old-stand bys like carrot, celery, bay leaves don’t make the cut, but surprisingly they aren’t missed. Instead the broth has an unfettered purity that results in a lovely, deep chicken-centric liquid. Finally, your “excuse” to join the Slow-Cooker Movement (and save your dignity) has arrived.

Summer Broth

Slightly adapted from Cooks Illustrated.

Yields just shy of 3 quarts. I didn't salt mine so that I could better control the salt when using the broth in various recipes. To salt or not to salt is entirely a personal choice.

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs chicken wings
  • 3 quarts filtered water
  • 1 onion (yellow or white), peeled and rough chop
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 1-2 tsp salt (optional)

Instructions

  1. Place all ingredients in slow cooker.
  2. Cook on low for 9 hours.
  3. Let the broth cool slightly and then place in the refrigerator overnight to allow the fat to collect on the surface.
  4. Strain the broth through a fat separator to remove the fat and to catch the fine chicken meat particles. This will help yield a clear broth.
  5. Use within 3 days or freeze up to 90.
http://www.glassjarsoupcompany.com/2014/06/10/summer-broth/

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Fall Vegetable Stock

parsnips for fall vegetable stockIn the spirit of full disclosure, I don’t use much vegetable stock. It’s always kind of reminded me of dirty dish water and frankly I didn’t think it tasted much better. And FORGET the boxed stuff, they might as well call it “Liquid Salt”, correction “Orange Colored Liquid Salt”. I’ve said before that I’m not big into meat, but I do love homemade chicken broth. Makes me all warm and tingly AND anything I make with it is all the tastier for it. However, I have no business writing a soup blog if I don’t put my heart into learning how to make, not just passable, but really good vegetable stock. It’s taken a while but these days you can find me swooning over vegetable stock as one might say chocolate cake, or in my case a rotisserie chicken stock.

celery root for fall vegetable stock

There are three keys to fabulous vegetable stock. First and foremost use seasonal vegetables as they will be freshest produce available and the flavors will compliment the seasonal dishes being prepared in your kitchen.  Two, sauté your vegetables in order to coax out their flavors.  Lastly, use a parchment lid to trap precious liquid and sinfully sweat your vegetables to sweet deliciousness.  Yes, your vegetarian friends will love you for it, but even chicken stock devotees like myself will surprisingly find themselves keeping a reserve in the freezer.

Fall Vegetable Stock

Fall Vegetable Stock

Consider customizing the vegetables to your preference, but beware of using produce that has a strong, overpowering presence like cabbage, tomatoes or big meaty mushrooms. You’ll find vegetable stock is a whole lot easier to make than beef or even chicken broth, but because it has a delicate flavor it will lose its flavor nuances very quickly, so you’ll want to use it within 24 hours or freeze for future use.

Ingredients

  • 3 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 TBSP unsalted butter
  • 4 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 small celery root, peeled and medium chop
  • 1 fennel bulb, trimmed, cored and medium chop
  • 4 large garlic cloves, skins removed and smashed
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 medium parsnips, peeled and medium chop
  • 20 sprigs of fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley
  • 10 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 1 TBSP kosher salt
  • ½ ounce dried chanterelle mushrooms, crumbled
  • 3 quarts filtered water

Instructions

  1. In large stockpot (I used a 6 quart) heat oil and butter over medium heat.
  2. Add carrots, parsnips, fennel, celery root, mushrooms, onion, garlic and salt. Stir to ensure everything is evenly coated with oil.
  3. Cover with a round of parchment paper that you cut to accommodate the size of your pot.
  4. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 30 minutes.
  5. Add the water and herbs and bring to a gentle simmer.
  6. Barely simmer for 45 minutes.
  7. Strain through a fine mesh sieve and discard the solids.
  8. Use immediately, freeze or cool and refrigerate for use within 24 hours.
  9. Yields 2-3 quarts.
http://www.glassjarsoupcompany.com/2013/10/28/fall-vegetable-stock/

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Stock Up

When it comes to making chicken broth one size does NOT fit all. So relax, you don’t have to buy 15 pounds of chicken and work your biceps in preparation to manhandle a 20 quart stock pot. How you go about it depends on how much time you have, what flavor you want and sometimes just the type of mood you are in. Take rotisserie chicken stock, its fast (you’re in and out in two hours), delivers a rich, meaty brown stock and because only the carcass need apply all that juicy meat can be used for another dish. However, if you’re striving for a delicate broth that is more chickeny and less meaty AND you want to stock up, make this.

For you Goldilocks types, there is also an in-between that will be just right. Small batch homemade broth is done in less time than it takes to watch a Lifetime movie and yields two quarts of clear golden chicken broth. Certainly you can use it for soup (that was the point), but I say play sick and lay dibs to its delectable pureness….bowl after bowl until you are full feeling better.

Small-Batch Homemade Chicken Broth

Ingredients

  • 1 whole organic chicken (3-5 depending on size), no giblets
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped into 1” chunks
  • 2 celery stalks chopped into 1” chunks
  • 1 yellow onion, peeled and cut in half
  • 1 head of garlic, a few outer layers removed and cut in half
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 8 parsley sprigs
  • 3 thyme sprigs
  • 1 TBSP kosher salt
  • 1 tsp whole black peppercorns

Instructions

  1. Place your chicken in a 5-6 quart stock pot and set on the stove.
  2. Add just enough filtered water to cover the chicken by about 2 inches.
  3. Over medium heat, bring to a simmer. Resist the urge to bring the water to a boil as it will make your broth cloudy. Religiously skim off the foam that forms on the top. Its impurities and congealed protein that will adversely affect flavor and clarity.
  4. Meanwhile, prep your aromatics (vegetables and herbs) and place them together in a large bowl.
  5. After 30 minutes of simmering most of the gray foam will have subsided.
  6. Add the aromatics, salt and peppercorns. Lightly press them into the water, but do not stir (doing so will make a cloudy broth).
  7. Turn to medium-low and maintain a gentle simmer for 90 minutes, uncovered. Do not stir.
  8. Remove from heat, strain and discard the solids. I prefer to spoon out the solids with a fine mesh ladle so as not to mix everything together and make the stock cloudy. This, however, is NOT essential and won’t affect flavor.
  9. Cool and refrigerate overnight and in the morning skim off any fat that has congealed on the surface. I’m a bit fanatical about this and like to use a fat separator as well. Who likes greasy stock?!
  10. Use within 3 days or freeze up to 3 months.
  11. Yields 2 quarts.
http://www.glassjarsoupcompany.com/2013/06/13/stock-up/

 

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New Friends

Doesn’t it just figure that I meet new, fabulous friends right when I’m getting out of Dodge? If you’ve been reading this blog you know I’m quite partial to Savory in Raleigh. Their spices are the finest I’ve encountered and sustained by an immensely knowledgeable staff that is always eager to oblige. Many receipts later, the girth on my circle of friends (thankfully not my waist!!!) has blissfully expanded, so you can imagine my delight upon discovering that one of these new mates lives directly across the green from me! Perhaps if we were 10 we might tether a string adorned with matching soup cans and whisper secret messages from the prying ears of nearby adults. Certainly, a few decades separate us from such youth, but the camaraderie persists. Like me, Lindsay is an avid home cook and with my dear husband away more than not, a few weeks ago she thoughtfully extended an invitation to join her and her family for dinner. When I learned that black garlic was to be the star ingredient, in my exuberance I nearly tackled her (quite uncivilized…and probably would not have won me second invitation). You see, it’s been on my long list of “must trys” that sits right next to my bulging folder of soup ideas….. Neither the fermented allium, nor the dinner left room for improvement. It was a fantastic evening on all accounts. Lindsay even sent me home with some garlic to “play around with”. Now that’s a friend!

Alone again and hoping to return the treat, I invited myself over…. with dinner in tow. I’m sure it was a sight……me crossing the green as if it were a live minefield. Fiercely concentrating, I gingerly walked this way and that way as I lugged a brimming pot of hot soup…….so sorry, no pictures. Years ago I attended a cooking class at A Southern Season and left absconded with the most glorious recipe for a Garlic Parmesan Broth which has since served as the base for many delicious meals in our home…..can you imagine this in risotto!!!! This time I added baby kale, tender cranberry beans from Rancho Gordo and finished it with a generous helping of freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. That’s it! Lindsay’s mother Bonnie, AKA my massage therapist extraordinaire, kindly raved about the soup, but I’m willing to bet she adored dessert…Rich Homemade Ricotta. We set up a make-shift tasting bar with buttered crostinis, raw acacia honey, ridiculously aged balsamic, lavender vanilla sugar, strawberry preserves and soooo much more. Lindsay’s little boy surprised us all by diving right into the ricotta after bravely eating his greens and beans. Had onlookers witnessed this scene, instead of laughing as they might have at my awkward jaunt, they would have yearned to be part of our merry kitchen gathering. With each crostini sampled (and there were a lot) we continued to feed our friendship. Come to think of it, dessert lasted much longer than dinner.

Baby Kale and Cranberry Beans in Garlic Parmesan Broth

Baby Kale and Cranberry Beans in Garlic Parmesan Broth

Ingredients

  • 1 lb dried cranberry beans
  • 1 cup yellow onion, small dice
  • 1 cup carrots, peeled and small dice
  • 1 cup celery, small dice
  • 12 cups Garlic Parmesan Broth
  • 5 oz baby kale
  • 1 TBSP kosher salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
  • Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano for serving

Instructions

  1. Pick through the dried beans and remove any little rocks or debris that may have gotten mixed in, then give them a vigorous rinse in a colander to remove dust and dirt. Place beans in a small stock pot and cover with water by 2 inches. Soak overnight (minimum 12 hours). I used Rancho Gordo beans and soaked them for 18 hours. Beans will have plumped up so add more water if necessary to maintain the 2” water bath.
  2. Heat 2 TBSP olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Sauté the onion, carrot and celery until tender (about 10 minutes). Stir into the beans.
  3. Place the pot of beans on the stove and bring to a boil.
  4. Cover and simmer for 1-2 hours until the beans are tender and soft all the way through. Half way through the cooking you should start to smell a distinct bean aroma; this is when you add 1 TBSP of salt.
  5. Meanwhile, over medium heat warm the broth in a large pot (I used a 6.75 quart Dutch oven).
  6. Add the cooked beans, baby kale, pepper and stir until the greens are wilted (about 3 minutes).
  7. Taste for seasonings.
  8. Serve with freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.
http://www.glassjarsoupcompany.com/2013/04/08/new-friends/

Garlic Parmesan Broth

Garlic Parmesan Broth

Adapted from A Southern Season cooking class.

When used in soup the pronounced flavor of the broth allows for simplicity in the other ingredients. In fact, it demands it.

Ingredients

  • 14 cups homemade chicken broth
  • 2 heads of garlic
  • 8 oz Parmigiano-Reggiano rinds (about 5)
  • 16 stems Italian parsley
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 20 fresh sage leaves
  • 16 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 1 tsp whole allspice berries
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp black peppercorns
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Instructions

  1. Separate the garlic cloves from the head and crush them with the flat side of a chef’s knife to remove the skins. This is a sticky job!
  2. In stock pot (I used a 6 quart) combine all the ingredients EXCEPT for the olive oil.
  3. Cover and over medium heat bring to a simmer.
  4. Once a simmer has been reached, only partially cover the pot and simmer on low heat for 45 minutes.
  5. Strain through a fine mesh sieve and discard the solids.
  6. Stir in the oil.
http://www.glassjarsoupcompany.com/2013/04/08/new-friends/

Rich Homemade Ricotta

Rich Homemade Ricotta

Homemade ricotta can be dessert or a savory snack. Try the sweet toppings above or enjoy it with fresh herbs, a drizzle of olive oil, roasted red peppers, a special finishing salt.......

Ingredients

  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 4 TBSP freshly squeezed lemon juice

Instructions

  1. Line a fine mesh sieve with two layers of dampened cheesecloth (to remove lint and help it stick to the sieve) and position it over a large bowl.
  2. In a 4 quart saucepan (a stock pot will also work) combine the milk and cream.
  3. Stir in the salt.
  4. Turn the heat to medium and bring to a boil. Stir a few times during the heating and boiling.
  5. Once it reaches a full boil (about 15 minutes), reduce the heat to very, very low and stir in the lemon juice.
  6. Cook for 3 minutes. You will start to see some separation of curd-like particles and whey (liquid).
  7. Remove from heat and allow the mixture to stand for 30 minutes.
  8. Gently ladle the mixture into the lined sieve and drain for 30 minutes. After the first 10 minutes of draining you will probably need to discard the collected liquid so that it can continue to drain. For a thicker consistency let it drain for 45 minutes.
  9. Transfer the ricotta to a bowl and enjoy any number of ways!
  10. Serve immediately (my favorite) or at room temperature.
http://www.glassjarsoupcompany.com/2013/04/08/new-friends/

Notes:

  1. I’ve been told to use the least pasteurized dairy you can find because the more pasteurization the less curdling success you will have. Here in NC, I use Maple View Dairy which can be found at Whole Foods.
  2. Try not to over stir. This disrupts the curds.
  3. ENJOYING THIS WARM RIGHT AFTER IT’S MADE IS AN ALMOST INDESCRIBEABLE PLEASURE. THERE IS NOTHING SO DECANDANT, CREAMY AND PURE.  Room temperature also works, but don’t miss an opportunity to taste it in its most fresh form.
  4. If you don’t have fresh lemon juice, 3 TBSP of white wine vinegar can be substituted.  The texture, however, will not be as creamy and the flavor will be less delicate.
  5. Provided you don’t devour it within the first 24-hours it will last about 5 days.
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Make this first.

Looking for a creamy luscious tomato soup? Start with homemade chicken broth. Craving a nourishing bowl of chicken noodle? You need homemade chicken broth. How about chunky corn chowder? Homemade chicken broth. The homemade stuff is what makes soup special, taking it from flat to complex and vivacious. If you’re not accustomed to using it, I implore you to try it just once…pretty please. (Can you hear me whining? I know it’s a bit annoying, but I won’t stop until you promise.) It will be an awakening. Dramatic? Yes. True? Also yes. You will be darn right flabbergasted at how easy it is and then find yourself “taking a moment” as you relish that first spoonful. At this point you might even start to gloat a bit at your recent accomplishment. Go ahead. You deserve it! I do…..every time.

There is no definitive “recipe” on how to make chicken broth from scratch, rather there are philosophies and preferences. As fundamental as it is, it’s a remarkably debated process, a fact I was oblivious to until I started to research it in greater depth. I also discovered that some techniques were a little obsessive for my kitchen….I’m planning on eating the broth not exhibiting it. Seriously, when food becomes too precious we’ve reached a point of indulgence that I find embarrassing. Where the consensus lies though, is in the requirement to make homemade broth first and stock your freezer so it’s always on hand to build beautifully delicious meals.

Homemade Chicken Broth

It will take about 6 hours, so plan to spend the afternoon around the house, but certainly not chained to the kitchen. While it’s simmering away on the stove you can clean the house (oh, joy), catch up on email, read a good book….maybe even take a nap. You’ll find homemade broth only needs a little encouragement. It’s quite independent and VERY delicious.

Ingredients

  • 15 lbs whole organic chicken (3-5 depending on size), no giblets
  • 3 large onions, peeled and cut in half
  • 6 carrots, peeled and cut in thirds
  • 4 celery stalks, cut in thirds (no leaves)
  • 1 head of garlic, unpeeled and cut in half
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 TBSP kosher salt
  • 30 springs fresh Italian flat leaf parsley
  • 20 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 TBSP black peppercorns
  • Filtered water

Instructions

  1. Put your chickens in a 20 quart stock pot and place on the stove.
  2. Add just enough filtered water to cover the chickens by about 2 inches.
  3. Over medium heat, bring to a simmer. Resist the urge to bring the water to a boil as it will make your broth cloudy. This will take about 2 hours. Religiously skim off the foam that forms on the top. It’s impurities and congealed protein that will adversely affect flavor and clarity.
  4. Meanwhile, prep your aromatics (vegetables and herbs) and place them together in a large bowl.
  5. Once the water really begins to bubble add the aromatics and salt. Lightly press them into the water, but do not stir (doing so will make a cloudy broth). Turn to medium-low and maintain a gentle simmer for three hours, uncovered. Do not stir.
  6. Add the peppercorns and simmer for another hour.
  7. Remove from heat, strain and discard the solids.
  8. Cool and refrigerate overnight and in the morning skim off any fat that has congealed on the surface. I’m a bit fanatical about this and like to use a fat separator as well. Who likes greasy stock?!
  9. I portion mine into quart containers.
  10. Use within 3 days or freeze up to 3 months.
  11. Yields 6-7 quarts.
http://www.glassjarsoupcompany.com/2013/01/19/make-this-first/

A few (well, maybe more than a few) crucial tips:

  1. Don’t be tempted to use the shriveled up carrots stashed in the back of the crisper. If your ingredients aren’t fresh enough to eat, they won’t make a good stock.
  2. Use as little water as possible. The goal is to concentrate flavors.
  3. Simmer. Never boil. Boiling will mix the fat and impurities into the broth and compromise its clarity.
  4. Skim. When bringing the water to a simmer you will probably notice a disturbing gray foam. Its protein and impurities. Skim it off for a clear broth.
  5. Don’t stir. Once you reach a simmer resist the urge to move things around in the pot; doing so will make your broth cloudy.
  6. The more (and stronger) aromatics you use (vegetables and herbs) the less “chickeny” your broth will taste. Save the rosemary for your polenta!
  7. To reduce the fat content of the broth you can remove the chicken skin; this will lessen the need to skim so much as well.
  8. After chilling, you will notice that your broth is a bit gelatinous. This is perfectly normal and will resume its brothy texture once heated.
  9. In my opinion boiled chicken is pretty darn flavorless; however, my chicken loving, frugal husband finds the resulting breast meat perfectly acceptable for a mayonnaise laden chicken salad with all its glorious accoutrements to bump up the flavor. I’ll let you be the judge.
  10. Once fully frozen the broth will expand a bit so be sure to leave a little room in your container to accommodate for this.
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Kitchen Magic

I shudder to think of chickens gone by, good meals bridled and Thanksgiving turkeys passed over, all because of pure kitchen negligence. Why, for years, did I not make my own stocks? Especially when I found myself with a 20 lb turkey carcass or remnant bones from a roast chicken. I’ve stared into the deep, dark recesses of my mind (found a few cobwebs along the way) searching for a precise, logical answer. Even after running through the standard excuses of time, ignorance and exhaustion I still can’t string together a sentence that justifies this careless behavior. So…I’ve decided that I will have to go with indifference.  As painful as it is to acknowledge….that must be it. For the record, I don’t know who this woman is, so I am trying to understand her from afar and interpret her bad behavior. “She” simply must have thought there was no benefit to this extra step.

“Step” being a MAMMOTH exaggeration.  Making stock doesn’t really count as cooking…it’s more like magic. You don’t do anything except throw some things in big pot, cover them with water, wait a few hours and you are rewarded with a rich, deeply flavored potion (I mean broth) that is practically a meal on its own. It will elevate every dish you prepare, from soup to risotto, gravy, braised greens- anything you use chicken stock for. Think of it as fairy dust. I promise that whoever you are, whatever your skill in the kitchen, your personal culinary rating will shoot up a few stars if you make your own stock.

Before your very eyes the water will turn from clear to a beautiful golden brown….kitchen magic. Without fail, we stand over a fresh batch, spoons in hand, slurping it up while nodding our heads in agreement and rolling our eyes as if to proclaim “we believe” “we believe”!!!

A few crucial tips:

  1. Don’t be tempted to use the shriveled up carrots stashed in the back of the crisper. If your ingredients aren’t fresh enough to eat, they won’t make a good stock. There will be no magic happenin’ in your kitchen.
  2. Use as little water as possible. The goal is to concentrate flavors.
  3. Simmer. Never boil. Boiling will mix the fat, protiens and impurities into the stock and compromise its clarity.
  4. Skim. When bringing the water to a simmer you will probably notice a foam (less with a rotisserie chicken). Its protein and impurities. Skim it off for a clear stock.
  5. Don’t stir. Once you reach a simmer resist the urge to move things around in the pot; doing so will make your stock cloudy.
  6. The more (and stronger) aromatics (vegetables and herbs) you use the less “chickeny” your stock will taste. Save the rosemary for your polenta!

Rotisserie Chicken Stock

Lucky for us, most groceries offer fresh rotisserie chickens. The slow bake roasts the bones, concentrating their flavors and creating the perfect foil for a rich homemade chicken stock that comes together in half the time as a normal stock.

Ingredients

  • 1 rotisserie chicken carcass, whole
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped into 1” chunks
  • 2 celery stalks chopped into 1” chunks
  • 1 yellow onion, peeled and cut in half
  • 1 head of garlic, a few outer layers removed and cut in half
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 8 parsley sprigs
  • 3 thyme sprigs
  • 1 TBSP kosher salt
  • 1 tsp peppercorns

Instructions

  1. Place all the ingredients in a large stock pot (5-6 quart).
  2. Add just enough filtered water to cover the carcass (1-2” above the bones).
  3. Bring to a simmer, skimming off any foam that forms.
  4. Maintain a low, gentle simmer for 2 hours. Do not stir.
  5. Strain the stock through a colander and discard the solids.
  6. Cool and refrigerate the stock overnight.
  7. Skim off any fat that has solidified.
  8. Use within 3 days or freeze for 3 months.
http://www.glassjarsoupcompany.com/2012/10/11/kitchen-magic/

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Happy Birthday Scotti!

Earlier this summer I had an awful bowl few spoonfuls of shrimp bisque. It was heavy, greasy, salty and lightly finished with the essence of shrimp. As a statement of fact, albeit self-proclaimed, I make the gold standard of shrimp bisque at home (thanks to Ina). So although I know what I like, I swear it wasn’t a case of being close minded. This interpretation truly belonged on a fast food buffet alongside the all-you-can-eat mac ‘n cheese and dingy iceberg lettuce. Besides my wasted $3.42 the resulting consequence was that I’ve been craving a redeeming bowl of shrimp bisque for some time now.

My friend’s birthday was last month and she invited Oliver and me to spend it with her at the family beach house along with two sweet little mermaids who call her mom.  Scotti is no ordinary friend. She is a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu Paris….really, need I say more? And even better than her food, is the privilege to have her as my personal culinary encyclopedia and her thoughtfulness in never making me feel inadequate as a home cook. Not to mention, she’s a quick-witted, feisty and appreciates good wine and a simple meal as much as I do. In fact, a few months ago, emboldened with a full-bodied red, we conquered homemade pasta (and some online bikini shopping!) while giving the kitchen a dusting of flour worthy of a first snow. Wine, and a fearless friend, helps you laugh at getting the settings on your pasta machine completely wrong.

At the beach and motivated by both the desire to erase that unfortunate market bisque from my memory and by the shrimp boats floating in the horizon, we found our sandy way to the fish market and loaded up on shrimp caught earlier that morning. Barefoot, we sautéed, deveined, chopped, pureed, toasted and tasted. Not surprisingly, Scotti’s eldest who will be three in the fall and has an uncanny affinity for smoked salmon, was a huge fan of our pink, sweet, shrimpy bisque.

You should know that Scotti is also my champagne friend. We don’t save it for special occasions other than just being together, but we also don’t make a regular habit of it. One, we drink the good stuff so it’s expensive and two, it goes directly to our heads making us giggle pusses with achy heads. But when its birthday weekend and you’ve just made a silky shrimp bisque, dry champagne is the perfect pairing to cut the richness of bisque. Happy Birthday Scotti!

Shrimp Bisque

Adapted from Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa At Home cookbook.

This soup is obviously an elegant first course, but I prefer it as the main event served alongside a light mixed green salad or as we did a Leek Gruyere Tart. Champagne is non-negotiable.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb of shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 4 cups of shrimp stock (I’ve also made this with homemade chicken stock and found it equally delicious.)
  • 3 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 TBSP of chopped garlic
  • 2 cups of chopped leeks (about 3)
  • A few dashes of cayenne pepper
  • ¼ cup Cognac
  • ¼ cup dry sherry
  • 4 TBSP unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 2 cups half & half
  • 1/3 cup tomato paste
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Trim the leeks so that you have only the white and light green parts, then slice in-half lengthwise and cut ¼” half moons. Rinse like crazy in a colander using your fingers to move them around and around to ensure all the dirt is removed.
  2. Heat the olive oil over medium heat (I use a 6.75 quart Dutch oven).
  3. Add the leeks and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook for about 10 minutes until the leeks are wilted and tender. Be sure not to brown them or this will change the flavor of your bisque.
  4. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute until beautifully fragrant.
  5. Add the shrimp and cayenne pepper and cook for 3 minutes stirring and turning the shrimp a few times. The shrimp will not be complelety cooked.
  6. Stir in the Cognac and cook for a minute.
  7. Add the dry sherry and cook for another 3 minutes. At this point you will be entranced by the aroma! The liquid should not have all evaporated and the shrimp will be brilliantly pink (cooked).
  8. Put the shrimp mixture in the food processor and coarsely puree, scraping down the sides once.
  9. Wipe out the Dutch oven with a paper towel and melt the butter over medium-low.
  10. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute.
  11. Wisk in the half & half and stir until thickened. This will take anywhere from 3-5 minutes. If you have to ask yourself if it is thickened, it isn’t. You will actually feel a change in resistance against your spoon.
  12. Stir in the pureed shrimp, stock, tomato paste and salt and pepper. Pay special attention to the tomato paste to ensure it fully incorporates…..chunks of it are not pleasant.
  13. Reheat, check for seasonings and enjoy.
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Notes:

When shopping for shrimp consider “count” and unless you are coastal or have such a trusting relationship with your fishmonger that it borders on inappropriate always buy frozen. For obvious reasons, shrimp is generally frozen at sea, which means what you are purchasing from the counter has most likely been previously frozen and is now thawing in the case (getting chewy), therefore making the frozen shrimp a fresher option.

“Count” refers to the number of shrimp it takes to achieve a pound. So, the lower the count, the larger the shrimp and the fewer you need to make a pound. Generally, larger shrimp are tastier. “21-25 count” is a good choice for this bisque and is pretty standard.

Shrimp Stock

Adapted from Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa At Home cookbook.

Ingredients

  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • Shrimp shells from a pound of shrimp
  • 2 cups of chopped yellow onions
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 chopped cloves of garlic
  • 1 ½ quarts filtered water
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 1/3 cup tomato paste
  • 1 TBSP kosher salt
  • 10 sprigs fresh thyme

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a stockpot over medium. Add the shrimp shells, onions, carrots and celery and sauté for 15 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.
  3. Add 1 ½ quarts of filtered water, wine, tomato paste, salt and thyme.
  4. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour.
  5. Strain through a fine mesh sieve. You can use immediately, however, I like to refrigerate mine overnight and skim off any solidified fats.
  6. This yields about 1 quart.
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Leek Gruyere Tart

Adapted from The Local Palate.

Ingredients

  • 1 pie crust dough (I’m partial to Cooks Illustrated Foolproof Pie Dough)
  • 2 TBSP oil
  • 2 TBSP unsalted butter
  • 3 leeks
  • 1 TBSP Dijon mustard
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup grated gruyere
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt, divided
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp fresh thyme

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400.
  2. Trim the leeks so that you have only the white and light green parts, then thinly slice. Rinse like crazy in a colander using your fingers to move them around and around to ensure all the dirt is removed.
  3. Line a 9-inch tart pan with your favorite pie dough and poke all over with a fork. Place a sheet of foil over the crust and fill will dried beans or pie weights. Bake for about 20 minutes until the dough is set then remove the foil and beans and bake for another 10 minutes until golden. Set it aside to cool and reduce the oven to 325 degrees.
  4. Meanwhile in a sauté pan heat the olive oil and butter over medium. Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the leeks and stir to blend with the fats. Stir in ½ tsp of salt.
  5. After about 10 minutes, add a few drops of water to the mustard to loosen it up and then add it to the leeks and stir to blend well. Continue cooking the leeks for another 10-15 minutes until they are wilted and tender.
  6. Whisk the eggs and cream with a ½ tsp salt and pepper each in a small bowl.
  7. Sprinkle the cheese over the tart shell and scatter the leeks on top. It will look like you have too many leeks.
  8. Pour the egg mixture over the leeks, sprinkle with thyme and bake for 35-45 minutes, or until the center of the filling is set. You should also see random golden spots on the tart.
  9. Let the tart stand for 5 -10 minutes before serving.
  10. Enjoy with Shrimp Bisque and Champagne!
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