[edit -- I have since made the beef stock and it rocks the house. Homemade stock is so worth it, and why else do you have a freezer anyway?]
Makes about 1 gallon
4 lbs chicken necks, backs, and wings or chicken parts, skinned, fat trimmed, and rinsed
2 1/2 gallons cold water
2 medium onions, peeled, trimmed, and cut into quarters
2 small carrots, peeled, trimmed, and cut into 2-inch-long pieces
1 stalk celery, trimmed, and cut into 2-inch-long pieces
1 medium leek, trimmed, split lengthwise, and washed
1/2 head garlic, split crosswise in half
1 bay leaf
5 sprigs Italian parsley, washed
1 teaspoon white peppercorns
- Put the chicken and 7 quarts of the cold water in a tall stockpot and bring to a rolling boil. Add the remaining 3 quarts water (it should be very cold) and skim off the fat that rises to the top. Adjust the heat so that the water simmers and simmer--skimming regularly--for 10 minutes.
- Add the remaining ingredients to the pot and simmer for 3 hours, continuing to skim so that the stock will be clear. Drain the stock in a colander. Allow the solids to drain for a few minutes before discarding them, then strain the stock through a chinois or fine-mesh strainer. Cool and then refrigerate. (The stock can be kept tightly covered in the refrigerator for 4 days or frozen for up to a month.)
Makes about 2 1/2 quarts
1 large onion, peeled, trimmed, and halved crosswise
2 whole cloves
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 beef shank (about 6 lbs) -- ask the butcher to cut it crosswise into 2-inch-thick slices, bone included, and to trim excess fat
salt and freshly ground white pepper
6 quarts water
6 large mushrooms, trimmed, cleaned, and halved
4 stalks celery, trimmed, and cut into 2-inch-long pieces
3 carrots, peeled, trimmed, and cut into 1-inch-long pieces
6 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
5 sprigs Italian parsley
2 sprigs thyme
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon coriander seeds, toasted
- You need to blacken the cut sides of the onion. This is best done by placing it on a very hot flat surface, such as a griddle, and letting it cook until it is truly burnt. If you don't have a griddle, place the heaviest pan you've got over medium heat and then put the onion cut side down in the pan. Cook until it is as dark as you can get it. Remove the blackened onion halves from the pan and stick a clove in each half; set aside.
- Heat the oil in a large sauté pan or skillet --nonstick is best-- over high heat. Season the meat with salt and pepper and brown the pieces a few at a time (it's important not to crowd the pan), making sure you get them really brown on all sides. As the pieces of meat are browned, transfer them to a large stockpot.
- When all the meat is browned and in the stockpot, pour in the water, add the remaining ingredients, and bring to the boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook for 2 hours, diligently skimming off the foam and fat that bubbles up to the surface. Don't skimp on the skimming -- it's very important to remove all the impurities and as much of the fat as you can.
- Strain the stock through a colander and then pass it through a chinois or fine-mesh sieve. Cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate. (The stock can be kept, packed airtight, in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month.) When the stock is chilled, the fat wil rise to the top. Before reheating the stock, spoon off and discard the fat.
Makes about 1 gallon
5 onions, peeled, trimmed, and quartered
5 carrots, peeled, trimmed, and cut into 1-inch-long pieces
4 stalks celery, trimmed and cut into 1-inch-long pieces
2 small to medium leeks, split lengthwise, cut into 1-inch-long pieces, and washed
1/2 fennel bulb, trimmed, and cut in half
2 small heads garlic, cut crosswise in half
2 small bay leaves
1 bunch Italian parsley, washed
1 1/2 teaspoons white peppercorns
1 1/2 teaspoons coriander seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons juniper berries
2 1/2 gallons water
- Put all of the ingredients in a tall stockpot--a lobster pot works well here. Bring to the boil, lower the heat to a simmer, and cook, skimming the foam that rises to the surface, for 3 hours.
- Strain the stock through a colander and then through a chinois or fine-mesh sieve; discard the solids. Cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate. (The stock can be kept tightly covered in the refrigerator for 4 days or frozen for up to a month.)
Poultry/Meat Stock / Brodo
Makes about 8 quarts.
2 to 3 lbs meaty beef shank or "soup" bones, trimmed of fat
8 to 9 lbs whole capon or turkey wings (or a combination), chopped into 3-inch pieces
3 stalks celery with leaves, chopped
3 large carrots, chopped
4 very large onions, unpeeled (trim away root ends), chopped
2 large California bay laurel leaves, broken
3 sprigs Italian parsley
2 large cloves garlic, unpeeled, crushed
- Working Ahead: The stock holds, covered, in the refrigerator 3 to 4 days. Freeze it up to 4 months in different-size containers, from 2-tablespoon ice cubes to quart jars.
- Starting the Stock: In one 20-quart or two 10-quart stockpots, combine the beef and poultry. Cover it with cold water by about 4 inches, and set over medium heat. Let the water come to a slow bubble. Skim off all foam rising to the surface.
- Simmering: Add the vegetables, bay leaves, parsley, and garlic. Regulate the heat so the broth bubbles only occasionally (so you can say "one hundred" between bubbles). Partially cover, and cook 12 to 14 hours, skimming the fat from the surface every so often. If necessary, add boiling water to keep the solids covered.
The long cooking time surprises many. This extended simmering draws all the flavor from the meat and bones, producing a stock with exceptionally deep taste. You can start the stock after dinner and let it cook all night, partially covered, at a slow bubble. Make sure it is bubbling slowly, because leaving it below a bubble will cause spoilage. The next morning turn off the heat and strain the stock.
- Finishing: Refrigerate the strained stock until fat hardens on the surface. Discard all but 2 tablespoons of the fat. (In Emilia-Romagna one sign of a proper broth is luminous pin dots of fat called the "eyes" of the broth. Although never greasy, that tiny amount of fat gives flavor.) Pour into storage containers and refrigerate or freeze.
Ambar's note: don't bother hunting for capon; it's expensive, while Whole Foods will sell you turkey wings for $0.99/lb.
Meat Essences / Il Sugo di Carne
Makes 4 cups
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 oz lean pancetta, chopped
6 thin slices prosciutto, chopped
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 small carrot, thinly sliced
1 small stalk celery with leaves, thinly sliced
1 lb meaty veal neck bones or chopped breast of veal, trimmed of fat
1 lb chicken wings, chopped into small pieces
1 1/2 to 2 lbs meaty beef neck bones, trimmed of excess fat
2 large California bay laurel leaves
6 whole cloves
1 cup dry red wine
3 1/2 quarts Poultry/Meat stock [see above]
2/3 cup drained canned tomatoes, crushed
2 small cloves garlic, crushed
- Working Ahead: Meat Essences holds well 5 days, covered, in the refrigerator. It freezes up to 3 months. [Ambar says it freezes for a good deal longer than that, and is best frozen in ice cube trays so that you can drop a cube or two into whatever you're simmering.]
- Browning the Sauce: Divide the butter and oil between two large, heave sauté pans. Spread a layer of half the pancetta and prosciutto in each pan. Then divide the onion, carrot, celery, veal, chicken wings, and beef between the pans. Set the pans over medium-high heat. Do not stir or cover until you can smell the onion browning and hear sizzling in each pan. This takes about 8 minutes. Lower the heat to medium.
Using a wooden spatula, turn the meats over and continue cooking 20 minutes, or until the pieces are deeply browned on all sides. Lower the heat if necessary to avoid burning the onion or the brown glaze forming on the bottoms of the pans.
- Reducing: Stir in the bay leaves and cloves. Divide the wine between the two pans and let it bubble slowly, scraping up the brown glaze as the wine cooks down. Cook 8 to 10 minutes over medium heat until the wine has disappeared. Add 1 cup of the stock to each pan, and let it bubble slowly another 8 to 10 minutes, or until reduced to nothing. Stir frequently. Repeat twice more with 1 cup of stock each time for each pan. Make sure the stock is totally evaporated before adding the next cup.
- Simmering and Finishing: Turn the contents of both pans into a 6- to 8-quart heavy pot. Stir in the remaining stock, along with the tomatoes and garlic. Adjust heat so the liquid is bubbling only occasionally. Partially cover. Cook 6 hours, stirring occasionally and adding more stock or water to keep the meat and bones barely covered. Strain the essences into a bowl, firmly pressing on the meat and vegetables to extract as much liquid as possible. Allow to cool; then cover and refrigerate overnight. The next day, skim off all the fat from the surface, and refrigerate or freeze.