Some of you might know that since my first beautiful batch of chicken stock, I've gone a little stock crazy. Buying whole chickens has put a big dent in our grocery bill- it's awesome! Instead of spending 8 bucks on organic chicken breasts for one or two meals, we buy a whole bird- split it up into portions for a few different meals that week, freeze some, and make stock out of the rest. I seriously recommend it. Now that we're doing that, we keep stock veggies on hand all the time- carrots, celery, onion, pretty much. Of course, sometimes, the veggies start to get floppy and gross, and if we don't feel like making stock RIGHT THEN- we usually just pitch them. Last time I noticed them losing their sheen, however- I pulled a sneaky move. I tossed them in the freezer to be used later. (My husband doesn't like using odds & ends for stock- he says, "Your stock pot is not a garbage can!" Whatever, dude! You'll thank me when you taste what I made.)
Last time Jason and I hit the farmer's market, we splurged on some local cheeses. Jason picked out a smoked gouda, and I picked out a dill havarti. Both were delicious, but the havarti disappeared in practically no time at all, leaving us with the bacon-y gouda hanging out in the dairy compartment of our fridge. The smoked gouda didn't have a wax rind like regular gouda, just a brown smokey crust around the edges that was too strong to eat. Every time I opened the fridge and smelled it, I'd close my eyes and think- THERE MUST BE SOMETHING I CAN DO WITH THIS.
Today I was poking around and I was suddenly struck with inspiration- a smokey vegetable stock, perfumed with the rind of that delicious cheese! How could I NOT give it a go? I've used parmesan rinds to flavor my stocks with great success, why not throw in some gouda? I chopped up my frozen, wilty vegetables (whatever, Double J!) and liberal amounts of garlic and onion, and got some stock going. I figured I'd let it go for awhile as I pondered the possibilities of adding the gouda. I knew it would immediately melt on contact with the hot water. I didn't have any cheesecloth handy, but eventually it dawned on me- I could just dump out some tea bags and use them like little sachets! I chose the least offensive-smelling tea in my jar, just plain chamomile. After I removed the contents, a slight flowery smell remained, but it was completely overpowered by the smokiness of the gouda, so no big deal. I tied off the ends, dropped it into the stock, and in no time, my house was filled with a rich, heady aroma.
Want a recipe? I didn't really follow one, I just tossed a bunch of stuff in there:
1 medium to large sized yellow onion
3 carrots (mine were pretty long and skinny)
4 or so celery stalks
a lot of garlic. Like almost a whole head of garlic cloves, just smashed
8 cups of water
3 bay leaves
I preheated my pot to medium-high heat, and tossed in the onions & garlic first. I wasn't paying very close attention and the pan was pretty hot, so the onions ended up getting a little bit of color on them. I think that's part of the reason my stock is so rich and dark- so no complaints. Then I added the (still mostly frozen) celery and carrots, and let it all sweat for a minute or two before I dumped 8 cups of cold water over the top. I dropped in 3 bay leaves, and a teeny pinch of salt. Brought it up to a quick boil, and then turned it down to simmer so that little bubbles came up from the bottom to barely break the surface. I let it go for about 2 hours before I added the gouda sachets, and then let it go for another hour and a half or so, for a total of about 3.5 hours. 8 cups of water reduced to about 3 cups of stock.
Now the fun is trying to decide what to make with it! My first thought was some kind of smokey corn chowder with poblanos and bacon, but now I'm toying with the idea of cheddar beer soup. I think I'll just freeze it and wait for inspiration to strike during the cold months, when I'm craving something thick and rich. And I'd love to try it with other kinds of softer cheeses too, like sharp cheddars or manchego or something. Dang!
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Posted by Alice Carrier at 9:02 PM