Monday, July 17, 2017

Recipe: Veggie Broth

It's no mystery. I thought it was.

As a young wife and mom... <REPHRASE> As a young cook discovering her creative juices, I would spend money on cans and waxboard containers of chicken stock, beef broth, veggie broth, seafood stock thinking it must be a difficult, all-involving task to create. 

Nope, it's not. 

Applied knowledge is power!

We all know water adds no flavor when cooking and boiling. Grains like rice and quinoa absorb the water yielding very little flavor. Substituting broth in the place of water creates depth or layers of flavors. Suddenly, you're not trying as hard to make the bland potato tasty by adding tons of salt, because it has absorbed the flavorFULL broth!

Summer's fresh vegetable bounty is a perfect time to create a savory broth or stock to freeze until the chilly winds of fall and winter call for steamy soups and hearty stews. Making your own broth is as easy as... 

Oh, wait. The difference between stock and broth?

First, STOCK"Livestock makes Kitchen Stock." Stock is made when the bones (sometimes, with the meat attached) are covered in water and cooked for hours until the flavor and gelatin from inside the bones is rendered. It's just this simple: Chicken Bones = Chicken Stock; Turkey Bones = Turkey Stock; and Beef Bones = Beef Stock. Same for fish. For seafood stock, I have boiled the shells and shrimp heads after peeling raw shrimp to make a broth. Purists may choose to cook the bones without adding herbs and aromatic veggies, such as onions and garlic. <meh>... to each her own. 

Vegetable Stock vs. Vegetable Broth. Keep reading...

Next, BROTH. Broth is the clear-ish liquid after the bones and extra flavor (aromatic veggies and herbs, etc.) have been strained out. Purists will be militant about clarity. If that's you, use cheesecloth to strain the broth. Not being that picky, I opt for a colander with small holes or mesh strainer over an empty container to capture the flavorFULL liquid, which may be slightly cloudy. 

How did I make my latest batch of VEGETABLE BROTH pictured in these photos?

Into a large pot or "stock" pot, I tossed in the following:

Fresh Corn Cobs. There's flavor in the cobs! I cut off the corn to use in recipes.
Root ends and tops of green onions wilting in the fridge. I sautéd the white and light green parts in a different recipe.
Bell Peppers that were soft with some bad spots. I cut out the bad spots, removed the stem, seeds and white membrane leaving the peppers in big chunks.
Large Onion or 2 cut in half with the skin and root bottom. It's all gonna be strained out.
Garlic cloves. Whole or crushed? I don't remember. Maybe, cut and tossed in.
Celery Ribs. Leafy tops and all, cut, and washed, first.
Carrots cut into big chunks.
Rosemary Stems with LeavesIt's my favorite herb.
Whole Peppercorns. I had 'em, so I used 'em.

I added enough water to cover the veggies. TIP: Do not add salt. I placed the lid loosely on pot and walked away. The veggies simmered or lightly boiled for a couple of hours. My house smelled delicious!

I let the stock cool completely, and, then, strained out the veggies. I prefer to freeze my broth in either freezer zip baggies, doubled, or in clean jars. If this is your choice, remember: Do Not Fill to the Rim. The freezing liquid expands with enough power to break a the freezer...creating a mess and splinters of glass. All your hard work of capturing a flavorFULL broth will have to be trashed. Learn from my mistake.

This cold weather season, when you start thinking soup would be perfect, take the jar(s) or baggie(s) of broth out of the freezer, place on a kitchen towel or in the sink to let thaw. Use the thawed broth  --that broth YOU made with your own two creative hands--  in your favorite recipes for a truly homemade taste! Now, you can add the salt.

FYI: Onion, bell pepper and celery are known as the "holy trinity" in Cajun cooking. GO PLAY WITH YOUR FOOD!

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