Tuesday, September 25, 2012
Pork is In the Air
It doesn't feel like it's been almost a year since I've posted! I knew it had been some time but not this long. I've been kind of missing blogging and taking pictures of the food I'm making. It's fun for me to cook anyway and while it's more of a semi hobby than anything I've started this strange recourse in my head. A conversation with myself, or more, me describing the food that I'm preparing and telling stories (almost like I'm blogging) all in my head. I figured it was time to start doing a little blogging once again.
A lot of things have happened since I've posted and so that's to my defense as well. For instance, my husband and I are now proud owners of a loft in the city of Chicago. We live in the West Loop area. It's still not all complete - as in furnishings and hanging of paintings on the wall. We just got curtains last week. Beautiful raw linen curtains.
It's fall and the cooler days lead me to heartier foods, richer flavors and of course soup. What is the best way to start a decent soup? A good stock. Is making stock time consuming? It can be. Is it worth it? Absolutely, yes.
When we moved into our new place my husband bought an electric smoker from http://www.smokin-it.com/. He purchased the smallest one. It fits perfectly on our tiny balcony. It also produces some of the yummiest smoked foods ever. We've smoked everything from whole chicken to fish to mozzarella cheese to walnuts! This thing is great. Seriously. He's also smoked quite a few pork shoulders since we've had it as well. I save the bones and the extras, wrap those morsels up and freeze 'em. Yesterday I had the idea to make a pork stock.
To make any stock the idea is simple. The ingredients are pretty much fool proof and once you have everything prepped for the soup pot it's easy sailing.
For my pork stock I used the bones and 'extras' from the pork leftover that my husband smoked. I used about 3-4 celery stalks, a 1/2 pound of baby carrots (next time I'd use less carrots), 3 huge garlic cloves, 1 white onion, a tablespoonish of whole coriander seed and salt.
Put your soup pot on the stove, put a tablespoon of oil in - I used extra virgin olive oil from Trader Joe's. Let that get sizzly hot. Do a quick rough chop of your onion and celery and toss those in. Let those do some cooking for about 5 or 10 minutes. Smash up your garlic and chop that up. Toss in your garlic and coriander seed and let that cook for a few minutes until you can start to smell the garlic and coriander take over.
The smell will start to really make you hungry (if you haven't eaten already). Now it's time to add your carrots. I used the small baby carrots from the bag because that's what I had on hand. Now let these get hot and cook the carrots for a few minutes.
As you can see I decided not to chop the carrots any smaller. I figure it isn't necessary. Most of the time for a stock, you just remove the vegetables and bones anyway and since the carrots were already small they fit into my pot perfectly! A sneaky time saver but being that I already had these on hand I claim it's more practical than sneaky or lazy.
I like to saute the veggies for a bit before putting the water in. This brings out some of their flavors and releases the juices into the bottom of the pot. It also adds another dimension of flavor to the stock. Sometimes the edges that touch the side of the pot get singed a bit more, the veggies caramelize a little bringing out a touch of sweet and this all just happens naturally.
At this point adding in the pork parts is advisable, as well as a little salt. You won't really want too much salt for your stock - just enough to pull out all the flavors that you have in your pot. You want this to be a base where you'll add other flavors to, so go easy on the salt.
After I added the pork bits and salt and sauteed for just a minute, mixing well with my wooden spoon and incorporating all the flavors together, I then added my water. I have a small blue pitcher that I used. I don't advise taking the pot off of the stove to add water - use a pitcher or another bowl to pour the water over your ingredients. Make sure the water completely covers all of the ingredients in your pot - you want all the veggies and pork bits swimming. Now cover and bring to a rolling boil.
It didn't take long for this to start boiling. Once it begins to boil turn the heat down to low-medium and let it go for about an hour or two. I stirred the stock occasionally which I don't think is necessary. I just wanted to see the transformation of the stock and make sure that the pork bits were falling from the bone (they were).
Once I turned off the heat I let this stuff sit for about an hour to let it cool. I then put the lid back on and stuck it in my fridge - veggies, pork bits and all.
The next day once the stock is cooled completely you might see floating bits of fat. I take a mesh strainer and get these pieces out as you can see. I just throw them away but you could use this pork fat for cooking later on.
I then remove the cooked veggies and put them in a container to use again. Toss the bones, keep the good meat.
Then after straining you should have a good stock left in your pot and cooked carrots, onions, celery and pork to reuse if you choose.
Pour your clean stock into a seal able container or jar(s) and refrigerate! This time around I got nearly two mason style jars full.
Now to make up something warm and yummy from my homemade pork stock!