Breakaway Cook

Vegetable Stock, Breakaway Style

veg stock625

Thanks to all for the delicious comments on  the Iron Chef / Battle Coconut episode.  It’s been great fun — I think the episode repeats throughout this week and into next, check it out if you can! If you google Morimoto Mehta you should get links near the top for your local listing.

I’ve been making quite a few stocks recently, despite the heat. Sometimes you just have to, because you run out!

My freezer is currently bulging with stocks of all kinds. My preferred method of freezing them: pour into quart freezer bags/ziplocks (write on them first — it’s impossible when they’re already filled). I then just pull one out randomly, let it thaw, pour into a glass bottle, and keep in the fridge for whenever I need a liquid flavor blast. It’s very nice to have stock on hand — I seem to always need flavorful liquid, whether it’s for a quick soup, deglazing a pan, making rice, or a million other uses.

My current favorite is the following vegetable stock:

  • persian lime
  • galangal
  • small pasilla (chile), seeds removed first
  • onion
  • carrot
  • oregano
  • coriander seeds
  • red lentils
  • s&p

The photo above  doesn’t really represent ideal quantities used; I would use more carrot and onion, for sure.

Saute all in a little butter, and a good drizzle (say a quarter-cup) of water. Cover, and let cook down a bit for about 10 minutes — this seems to concentrate the flavors. Add at least three quarts of cold water, turn the heat up to max, and bring to a boil.  Turn it down to a simmer, and cook, uncovered, for about 90 minutes, longer if you have time and want deeper flavors/more concentrated stock.You can also save time by doing this in a pressure cooker for about 30 or 40 minutes on medium pressure.

Strain and discard the solids. If the resulting stock tastes bitter to you — the pasilla adds distinctly bitter notes; they’re deliciously bitter to me, but not to everyone — simply add a small amount of sweetener (agave works well) and/or thin it out with some water.

You can obviously omit anything, and add anything! But this particular one delivers a spicy, pungent, and earthy punch. The lentils give it a bare hint of creaminess,  the lime/galangal/coriander toss off their pungencies, and the pasilla gives it an earthy depth. Rice made with it is sublime, and I like to use it for light vegetable braises. It’s a nice, all around, go-to alternative to water or other cooking liquid. I’m betting it would be good for cooking pasta using the method of “disappearing liquid”: Pasta is cooked in  a liquid, usually wine but sometimes wine/stock combinations, that gets used up entirely during the cooking process, and the pasta often takes on the color of the liquid. It’s pretty much exactly like cooking risotto, except it’s pasta, not rice!

Do we have any regular veg stock users out there? What do you use it for?