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September 25, 2011 / beatricebunny

Lamb Stock

I love making my own stock.  I live in an apartment, so composting isn’t a great option for me, but stock lets me reuse a good many of veggies and meat that would otherwise go to waste.

Last week, I made lamb and potato curry from one of my favorite cookbooks, 660 Curries by Raghavan Iyer.  In order to accomplish this, I first had to cube an entire leg of lamb.  If I had started this blog earlier, that curry probably would have been my first post, but I didn’t and while it was tasty, that meal was a while ago.  What I can tell you is that I am not very good at removing meat from a leg of lamb.  It’s a beautiful cut of meat, and mine was from a local farm, grass fed and organic.  I did not want to waste any of it.  In making the curry, I removed most of the meat – more than the poundage the recipe called for- but I could still see a little left on the leg.  I decided to make lamb stock.

So, last Sunday night, I re-wrapped the leg in Saran wrap and put it back in my fridge.  Over the next two days, every time I cooked any ends went into a bowl in my fridge – green bean tops, onion ends, mushroom stems, hot pepper seeds and stems, mild pepper stems.  On Wednesday night, I added all these odds and ends, the leg, seasoning, garlic, and a few whole vegetables that needed to be used right away to a stock pot.  I filled the pot with water and it boiled merrily away while I cooked bean and ham stew for dinner.  I turned it down and let it simmer through an episode of Castle, laying out my work clothes for Thursday, and playing a few rounds of Words with Friends.  Finally, just before bed, I poured the mixture into a bowl through cheesecloth and stuck the broth in the fridge.  Friday morning, I skimmed the fat off the top and put most of it to freeze.

It tastes delicious, and it is nothing like store bought broth.  Every bite is a reminder of vegetables in season right now, and it has a little heat from the hot peppers we love this time of year.  When I cook with this broth, it will be a unique part of the meal I make.  The next batch of broth I make, be it chicken or lamb or fish, will taste completely different from this batch.  Different vegetables will be in season and I will have made a different series of meals leading up to broth making day – maybe carrots and white onions instead of red, maybe winter greens and root vegetables.

This is one of my favorite things about making my own base.  It is different every time and it reminds me that cooking is a process of the present – this season, this mood, this perfect cut of meat.  Moving from processed food to fresh food means moving from consistency to surprise.  It requires that we work a little harder to find the right seasoning, the right combination, and the right measure.  But it is so satisfying when we get it right.

This wasn’t perfect, and I would be happy with any tips on how to make my broth less cloudy.  I filtered through cheesecloth, used the cold spoon method, and further skimmed after chilling.

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