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Sunday, March 6, 2011

Mushroom stock

I used to make stock about once a week.  Before I had kids.  Now it's more of an as-needed thing, with help from cubes, granules, and boxes from the grocery store.  I'm not wild about all the Miracles of Modern Chemistry floating around in store-bought stock, but it'll do for most preparations.  When I'm making soup though where you need to use a large quantity and the broth is front and center in the dish, homemade is best. 

I keep two ziptop bags in the freezer--one for veg, one for chicken--to throw "extra" bits like carrot peels, celery butts, mushroom stems and chicken backs into.  When the bag is full, it's time to make stock.  This is also a good time to get rid of any wilty celery, sprouty onions and carrots past their prime that are lolling indolently about your vegetable crisper.  As long as they're not decomposing, they're fine for making stock. 

I think mushrooms are the backbone of a solid vegetable stock.  Without browned mushroom pieces, you'll just get lightly colored water.  You can throw in any bits of veg you have hanging around, however I recommend that you NOT include broccoli stems, collard stems, asparagus ends, or a vast quantity of English pea shells.  Just sayin'.  I screw up so you don't have to.  If you want to make broccoli or asparagus soup, then using these things to make stock is fine.  If you want a relatively neutral broth, don't do it.  Just compost those bad boys. 

Once you're done, freeze the stock in ice cube trays so that you can pull out as little as 2 tbsp of stock if you need to. 

Mushroom Stock
Makes 2 quarts

4 cups mushroom stems, all types
1 onion, unpeeled and quartered
1 carrot, broken into chunks
1 rib celery, broken into chunks
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 bay leaf

Put mushroom stems, onion, carrot, celery and any other bits of veg you're using on a jelly roll pan or another large sheet pan that has a lip.  Broil for 20 minutes or so, turning occasionally, until the vegetables are browned.  Really, really browned.  Don't make charcoal, but don't wimp out here either.   

Before broiling

After broiling
Scrape browned vegetables into a stockpot.  Pour a little water onto the pan and scrape up the brown bits.  Add that to the stockpot.  Add another 2 1/2 quarts of water, along with the peppercorns and bay leaf.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 45 minutes.  Strain and discard vegetables.  Freeze in ice cube trays for later use. 

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