Friday, July 9, 2010

Knee High by the Fourth of July

That's what we are looking for in a good crop of corn 'round here and this year....we got Thigh High by the Fourth of July. I'm not sure if it was our record setting wet June, or if it's just time for some really sweet sweet corn, but this year's crop is outstanding. We're headed over to Mollie's for a two family corn processing festival. I've never blanched corn in a turkey fryer on a deck. It has to beat standing over a boiling pot of water in my tiny kitchen, though.

Friday, July 2, 2010

stock; angry angry stock

This is one really big huge giant beef joint. It's heavy. At the moment, it's simmering in a big pot of water, making my house smell like roasted bones. Why? Because I am angry, that's why. It's best to make stock while you are angry. Allow me to explain. The reason one would make one's own stock is a fairly simple one; you can't buy it. There's really no point, beyond satisfying the requirements of a recipe you are about to follow word-for-word, in buying boxed or canned stock. The stuff you get in store, no matter if it is labeled organic, free range, MSG free, or freaking extracted from a happy cow, pretty much sucks. It doesn't have the magic ingredient. If you make your own stock and let it cool, you'll notice it sets up like jello. That's the magic. That's the thing that will cure you, heal you.....put you back together. Why is chicken soup the Miracle Cure? Well, it isn't anymore. It's just salty. But it used to be the miracle cure because of the combination of salt, protein, and the jello that leeches out of the bones when you make stock. Chicken stock is easy. Beef stock is time consuming and it makes your house smell a bit like gamy death.

I roasted that knuckle last night in a 300 degree oven for two hours. I simmered it in a pot for another two hours and then I had to go to bed, so I just put the pot in the refrigerator. This morning, I skimmed the two cups or so of fat off of the top, fed it to my now very happy dog (Max) and put the pot back on the stove to simmer all day. I added about 1/4 cup of kosher salt. I realize that people who do this add herbs, spices, and various vegetables. I'm not doing that. I just want the jello-y juice. I'll strain it through cheesecloth (to remove the grit) and then simmer it down until it amounts to about 6 cups of liquid or so. Then it goes in the freezer. When it's time to use it, I'll thaw it and mix it--two parts water, one part stock.
There's a lot of talk among hard core foodies about bones lately. You can get the scientific explanation for why making your own stock is worth it with a simple google search. I don't feel like going into it at the moment.
I don't think one can muster the strength it takes to extract every last nutrient from a ten pound cow joint if one is feeling cheerful. I certainly wouldn't want to waste the joint trying.