Sunday 2 June 2013

Taking Stock / The Unkindest Cuts

I wasn't sure what to call this posting so I used two poor puns. Basically, Wednesday was a stock day: beef, lamb, chicken and mushroom. The latter not so much a stock as the base to my mushroom velouté that I usually serve as an amuse bouche. I think I'm going to keep the actual recipe a secret. You have to have a few.

Unkindest cuts because the bits you put in a stock pot are invariably damned ugly. This is the beef below. Two portions of oxtail and a couple of big beef marrow bones cut up by my butcher. The oxtail looks like some kind of hideous growth. Sorry. Buckets of flavour from both and loads of gelatine from the bones and marrow.

Beef bones and oxtail... not a dead alien... or a presentation from the oncology lab.

This is the lamb. Two scrag ends. The name says it all really. (Although the term might have come from Middle English 'cragge', similar to the Dutch 'craghe' which means throat) Both the beef and lamb are roasted in a hot oven for about an hour. Maybe longer for the beef. I want some well done brown bits. The lamb and the beef are cooked in the pressure cooker for two hours, along with a fragnrant base of slow-sweated veg and some stalky herbs (thyme, parsley; rosemary for the lamb).

I've got into the habit of using the stockpot twice. The first boiling is for the restaurant, the second, invariably less intense, brew is termed 'family stock' and is used for our lasagnes, chillies and gravy roasts. That reminds me, I promised my friend Sally that I'd put my chilli recipe up. Will do. 

Ugly but delicious... eventually.

For the chicken, I just needed a light broth and anyway my pressure cooker was going to be busy all day so I used my big Le Pentole pot with the pasta insert. Le Pentole is wonderful stuff that will last your lifetime and several of your offspring... it's horribly expensive though. Most people will baulk at spending £130+ on a pot.

More wings than a chicken could point at... if it had a wing to do so.
All the above meats are pressure boiled with the veg and herbs. The mix varies with on the meat. I use more mushrooms with chicken and I add thyme and reduced port to the beef. Carrot and onion feature with everything though.

Now for mushrooms. This isn't a stock; more of a paste. Again, it looks pretty nasty in the raw. Take lots of mushrooms, cheap ugly ones are fine so long as you remove the shaggy roots and soil. Process to a fine paste and slowly dry fry over a medium heat until no more water is visible. The noise will change too. a dry paste doesn't hiss. DO NOT burn though - it will taste unforgivably fausty. The colour will change from a pinky white to a deep... mushroom colour. I then simmer this with cream to make the base of my velouté.

The landing site of Apollo 13?

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