Well today, anyway. It’s a relief to get back to what’s important, both here and on Food52. Check in on the Hotline and see what to do when your house STILL (that’s a quote) smells of the octopus you boiled a couple of weeks ago (man, I think I would have moved by now), or perhaps what a good dish might be to serve with lechon. I googled it for you. Anthony Bourdain says, “It can now be said that of all the whole roasted pigs I’ve had all over the world, the slow roasted lechon I had on Cebu was the best.”
And let’s finish up with the stock. So I let it simmer the whole day long in my slow cooker rather than on the stovetop, as I usually do. It’s not one of the sophisticated ones that can change over a load of laundry and cancel a dentist appointment for you while also cooking something. It was left behind by my mother. It’s sort of that orangey-red of probably the mid-70s. Its three settings are Off, Low, and High. But it’s quite large, and the stoneware vessel lifts out. Remember the early ones that were all one unit? Well, except for the lid. Those put me off crock-potting for a long time. At any rate, I took it out of the cupboard where it had spent many dark years, plugged it in, and turned it on High. It got hot. It did not catch fire. The experiment was on.
I put what was left of the chicken carcass and skin in the pot. Then I scraped in all of the “fond”, added water to the top of the pot, and put on the lid. I know you can imagine how my house smelled by the end of the day. But to make it even better, the stock, that is, I let it simmer overnight on Low. Even with all that, the level of stock in the pot had only decreased by about 2 inches. And the resulting stock was more like chicken essence. I even fished out some of the steaming, soft vegetables and ate them standing up by the pot for breakfast.
I always double-strain my stocks. First they go through a colander set in a large bowl set in the sink. I’ve learned it’s a good idea to double-check that the bowl is actually there. I discard the solids. Then I pour the stock back into the pot it came out of, and set a very fine mesh sieve over the bowl. You can also line a sieve with cheesecloth. Pour the stock through the sieve, back into the bowl. This removes fine particulates that can cloud the stock. Stocks should be practically jewel-toned and clear. Next, I covered it with plastic and set it outside in the garage (known this time of year as walk-out cold storage) so that the fat could rise to the top and be easily removed. To store it, I pour it through a funnel into plastic beverage containers I keep on hand for occasions like this. Then it gets labeled and put into the refrigerator or freezer, depending how soon I plan to use it.
Which is going to be tonight, for some of it. I’m planning to make Lost Shoes Risotto, but I’m going to cut back on the mushrooms, and add some beautiful fresh asparagus.
I’d say the slow-cooker method of making stock works just fine, though you might be prepared to let it simmer for longer than on the stovetop. Perhaps the person with the boiled octopus odor problem should make some chicken stock.