Saturday, 8 December 2012

Stock

Given that the world (OK, London) has gone ramen-mental, this recipe for stock took my eye on Felicity Cloake's article on ramen in the Guardian. It was actually posted in the comments page by someone called "Sparebulb". Sparebulb, thank you. I think I'll give this a try.
"...what I learned was to make a great stock you should avoid vegetables since they take more away than they contribute.
If money is no object then I use 1KG (approx.) of chicken wings for every litre of finished stock, essentially a supermarket pack. Since stock is always better made in bulk (just because of the time it takes to make a reduced clarified stock) you could order a 25KG box of chicken wings from a butcher or wholesaler, they will be cheaper than buying the equivalent weight from a supermarket- they will probably come frozen or have previously been frozen.
Now, while buying 25KG of chicken wings seems very expensive, you now have a lot of chicken wing tips that serve no real purpose, in fact you could argue the only bit of a chicken wing is the ‘mini-drumstick’ part- save them for the first BBQ of the season, they will be fine in the freezer and can be prepared at the same time- the marinade won’t work below 6C but you just bring them up to room temperature and it will kick in. You might even add them to the finished ‘ramen’ if you wish.
Anyway, back to the stock, for every litre of stock, in addition to the chicken, you want an inch of ginger, a supermarket bunch of spring onions and about a tablespoon of chopped garlic. The garlic (and the other vegetables) is all optional, but you will get the general style this way. I have long since dispensed with chopping garlic and ginger and use frozen cubes available in many supermarkets and ethnic stores- they are ice cube sized so you just use one of each. The spring onions I just chop into thirds (remove blue rubber band first).
The rest is simple stock making, but for added value I will run past that. The vegetables do their work quite fast, so they can be removed early on, based on a few litres of stock this will be about one hour, the finished stock will be strained after 2 hours. Always start with 150% of water for the finished stock (at the two hour point, see below you can reduce that further later). When it comes to straining the stock, you obviously need something to contain it, a colander to contain the now cooked to death chicken bits only fit for the bin. You also need muslin, not a Muslim, although an extra pair of hands is useful and food can build bridges between communities. You probably haven’t got muslin, buy one of those bandages used for supporting broken arms, they are sterile and all pharmacies sell them.
Finally refrigerate the stock, at this time of year, and if you have masses of finished stock, use one of those 25 litre plastic containers that Wilkinson’s sell for home brewers and stick it outside- the lid will protect it and we are looking at overnight temperatures that are probably around freezing. Any sediment will drop to the bottom overnight and then you can gently simmer the stock down to about a third of its original volume."

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