Thursday, October 27, 2011

Broth and purée recipes

Cooking is not among my hobbies and, as anyone can see from the template menu, I strive for simplicity in the kitchen whenever possible. Here are two recipes that are as straightforward as they come and whose cooking help give each other flavor.

The reason why I am posting these recipes is because I have come across a sort of culinary quandary. The recipes for broth that I find online claim that bones must be boiled for 24~48 hours or even longer. Yet, everyone I have asked about this, from grannies to professional chefs, have told me that they have never heard of a broth recipe (or come across one in a cookbook) that requires such long cooking times. Aromas, I am told, are lost quickly and, in general, the reason to prolong cooking is to reduce the water content.

So, just to be clear, it is not my intention to settle a feud and, even less so, to start a discussion among connoisseurs. I have experimented for a few weeks and this is what I have come up with. It works for me; it might work for you.

Cooking time: ~3 1/2 hours.
Time in the kitchen: 1 hour tops.

Place in a tall pot a pig foot, a few chicken wings, a celery stick or two, some laurel leaves (also called bay leaves), salt to taste, and sufficient water to cover everything. My choice of these specific animal products is determined by what is easily available. If I had other choices (e.g. beef bones, etc), I would probably choose differently. Nonetheless, pig feet are quite gelatinous and the resulting broth is tasty.

Bring to boil, skim the surface a couple of times, and add additional (warm) water if the level drops too much. I leave the pot on the stove for 2 or 3 hours, depending on how convenient it is. If there is a substantial difference in flavor, it is lost on me.

Once boiled to satisfaction, throw away the bones and other solids, then strain the stock through a coffee/oil filter. A friend tells me she uses a paper towel as filter but when I tried, it ripped (my fault, I guess I am clumsy). The broth is not finished yet, though. We are going to get some flavor out of the vegetables for the purée.

Place in a tall pot a variety of mushrooms (maitake, shiitake, etc), pumpkin, spinach, cauliflower, onion, garlic, carrot, and the still-warm bone stock you had just made. Choose the amount of each that suits your fancy. The list of ingredients is also at your mercy. I buy what looks good and throw it in. Sometimes I also add zucchini, cabbage, eggplant, or whatever. In truth, I take advantage of the ingredient mêlée to sneak in some vegetables that I would not eat otherwise.

Boil for about 30 minutes or whatever time it takes for all vegetables to become soft. All paleo foodstuffs can be eaten raw, in any case. If you are in a hurry, cut into smaller pieces in order to speed up the cooking. Limiting the amount of boiling is the best way to preserve nutrients.

Once boiled to satisfaction, put the vegetables aside and strain the stock through a coffee/oil filter one more time. The broth is now finished. Use a blender to purée the vegetables until creamed. Add some broth to smooth the mix if you feel it is too thick.

All done. Store in the refrigerator or freezer.

I make batches that last me for 4 to 6 days, a serving of each (broth and purée) a day. I like to do a quick reboil of a cup broth and then drop an egg in it for breakfast. The purée works best with a pat of butter and simply warmed in a microwave.

Hope it helps.