06 March 2009

Stock for Risotto

My friend Chuck reminded me about risotto in the previous entry, which does certainly need a stock, because the whole darn thing /is/ just a rice that's cooked in fat, to which stock is added to make a sort of gravy. So, there are times when you use stock for cooking, but not use stock as a cooking liquid, which is an important distinction. I'm fine with people using stock in a gravy, or risotto, because it's a specific flavour component.

That being said, cooking stock over the low and slow method can be a pain in the butt. If you want to shortcut it, do the lazy way. Chop up a celery rib, an onion, and a carrot into fairly small pieces. In a pot, heat up some olive oil, and pitch in all your vegetables at the same time. Add in a clove of garlic, pitch in some italian seasoning, Mrs. Dash, fines herbs, herbs de provence, or a mix of sage, rosemary, and oregano. Suffice it to say, the herbs are immaterial. You can use whatever you have, or make up your own. If you feel like it, add a teaspoon (or so) of chile powder (the kind with all the spices in it) for extra flavour. If you have it, add a teaspoon or so of fenugreek, which you should start doing for any vegetable stock, as it lends that silky unctuous texture and savoury taste to any liquid.

Once all the vegetables are softened, pitch in about a litre of water, about a cup or so at a time, allowing the water to come up to a boil between additions. This shortens the amount of time that you're standing there. When the final addition goes in, let it boil for about five minutes, and you're pretty much done. Strain it if you wish, or leave it as is. It'll be fine either way.

If you want to turn that stock into a soup, feel free to throw in some peas, some chopped frozen veg, corn, spinach, collards, kale, what have you. Just make sure to brighten up the flavour at the end with a healthy dose of parsley. Hope that helps!

If you're really quick at chopping veg, the whole thing should take no more than about 15 minutes or so in total.