Friday, December 06, 2013

Ridiculously Simple Overnight Oven Chicken or Turkey Carcass Stock

I'll start by saying I hate the word "carcass." It conjures images of road kill and vultures and grinning rotted skulls. However, it seemed to be accepted terminology for what's left over after a roasted bird is picked of its choice meat, so I'll use the word. Even though it makes me... Ew.

I've read many articles on stock-making. Everyone has an opinion. People will wax poetic about aromatics, clarity, "fouling" the stock by stirring or boiling or *gasp* putting in the wrong part of a vegetable, or breaking the bones. Entire litanies abound, and you could truly scare yourself right out of making one of the easiest, most magically rewarding things to ever come out of your kitchen if you let THEM get in your head.

Don't let THEM get in your head.

If you can roast a bird, you can make stock. Heck, even if you can't roast a bird: say it came out overdone, underdone, or you just picked up a rotisserie bird at the store; you can still make this poultry-infused liqueur of the gods.

The beauty part? You don't even need to dirty another pan. You're welcome.

So, here goes: your bird (one turkey or two chickens) is picked mostly clean. Save those parts-es that no one wants: skin, bones, fat, wingtips, neck, gizzards. If you didn't use the drippings from your bird for gravy, pour those in too. Just leave out the liver - it's mushy and too bitter. Hack the carcass up Dexter-style so it'll fit back in your roaster pan. I just use an el cheapo Granite Ware turkey-sized roaster: you know, the porcelain-on-steel one your mom had, and your grandma, and your great-grandma... Probably blue with white speckles. Throw all those beautiful bird parts back in the roaster.

Now here's where you can get a little fancy. Or not. Your stock, your choice.

I like my stock really golden-brown. To me it tastes richer. But hey, some don't. No matter what, this isn't going to be the neon-yellow broth you get from bullion or a can, but if you wanna kick it up a flavoriffic notch, roast those bones at 400 degrees for about 20 min. They'll turn brown and start to smell amazing.

Or just skip the roasting.

Either way, the next step is to throw some aromatics in there. Now some will cry "BLASPHEMY!!!" because they think cooking the aromatics overnight "dulls" them and leads to "one-dimensional" stock. And hey, they're probably right. But I'm no stock connoisseur and I'm not trying to win $10,000 on Chopped. "Multi-dimensional" or not, this stuff is from a totally different dimension than store bought cans, cartons, or cubes. It's not gonna taste anything other than amazing.

THEY would wait to add the aromatics until an hour before the stock is done. That's great, but I'm not giving up an hour of beauty sleep to get up and add aromatics. So unless THEY are swinging by at 5am to do this for me, I'll be adding my aromatics with everything else.

Toss in an onion, cut in half or quarters, skin on is fine. You'll be straining it all later. Break a couple celery stalks into 3 or 4 pieces and chuck 'em in there. Also a couple handfuls of baby carrots or two regular carrots broken into a few pieces. Throw in a bay leaf if you like... it's not the end of the world if you don't have one. If you have other root veggies you like, add them too! I hear parsnips are good. Some people like parsley or even a bouquet garni, and that's probably where adding late in cooking would pay off the most. Me? If I want that stuff I'll add it when I use the finished product. Same for salt: add it when you use the stock for it's final purpose. You don't want over-salty stock.

Once you've got it all in there, just pour cold water over it all. If you're feeling fancy, use filtered stuff. Heck, use Evian if you want - it's your baby. Barely cover everything with water. Then stick the pan back in the oven - woah there, partner! First turn it WAAAY down. 180 degrees. You don't want this goodness boiling (refer to above: "fouling")... THEY actually have an important point here: boiling all night will break your bones and veggies down to mush.

Now walk away. You heard me. No skimming or pot-watching required. Go watch tv or fold laundry or whatever you need to do. This magic is gonna take all night. How long? I don't know - 8 hours, 12 hours... How long do you sleep? You're not gonna screw it up unless you totally forget about it for, like, 24 hours or something.

Before you go to bed, take a little peek at your love-child. At this point I like to tuck the little snookums in (cover with the roaster lid or foil), but you don't have to. It depends on how concentrated and brown you want your stock. When I use a cover, I tend to end up with a little under a gallon of stock. Without covering, more like a quart and a half or so.

In the morning your house will smell incredible. Pull out your pan and strain that liquid gold! I use a fine mesh strainer, but if you're super picky you can line the strainer with a couple layers of cheesecloth and it will catch any bits. I'm not a person who tends to have cheesecloth just sitting around, but maybe you are (I want to be like you when I grow up!). Either way, cover your container of goodness with plastic wrap or a lid or whatever, stick it in the fridge, and carry on with your day.

When you're ready to use, scrape off the fat layer and either set it aside for another use (it's delicious) or discard. You're left with what should look like chicken or turkey jello. That's from all the glorious gelatin from the bones, and it's gonna make this stock unbelievably silky. It comes from the super-slow cooking... Take that, store-bought stock!

Now, just use or freeze. If I don't blow the whole wad on chicken and dumplings (my family's favorite), I'll freeze some. I like ziplock freezer bags for this, but fancy/rich people with way more freezer space than me like to use glass jars. If you do, leave an inch of headspace for expansion during freezing (science!).  Or you could put in ice cube trays and transfer the cubes to a baggie when frozen. Then you can pull out 1 or 2 or  a few for finishing a sauce or something.

Look at you! You just made stock! You'll never look at a carcass the same way, now, will ya?

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Lulu's Birthday Cake, 2012

Just had to share a pic!

Lulu wanted a "Sushi Cake" for her birthday... well, here it is! What fun!!!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Asian Sesame Noodles

Tonight I just wanted something simple. Simple and tasty. I've always wanted to find a good asian sesame noodle recipe but every time I've tried I've been disappointed. Usually they're too salty or too bland... or, surprisingly, both.

I looked all over for recipes, took what I wanted from each and added my own twist - and I think I hit on a winner. These turned out just how I'd hoped; well worth the little bit of heartburn from all the lovely raw garlic in these. Just eat 'em with a couple of TUMS if raw garlic gets to you.

You can use whatever kind of noodles you like - just plain old thin spaghetti would work fine. I used Barilla Pasta Plus, partly because I'm trying to be healthy, and partly because I like the texture and chew. I might try these with some kind of an asian noodle if I run across some at the store. Even if I never do these are going to become a staple at our house!

Variations, if you're interested, are adding green onions, rice wine vinegar, or if you like things a little spicy, some red pepper flakes.

Asian Sesame Noodles

1 pkg. Barilla Pasta Plus Thin Spaghetti - cooked, run under cool water, and drained
2 Tbs. Sesame Oil
4 Tbs. Canola Oil
2 - 2 cloves garlic, minced very fine
1/4 c. Tamari Soy Sauce
1 Tbs. Hoisin Sauce
1/2 Tbs. Oyster Sauce
1 Tbp. Sugar
2 Tbs. Sesame Seeds, toasted
Few Tbs. Water (enough to thin out to thin consistency)

Whisk all ingredients except pasta together in a bowl, pour over pasta and toss. Serve chilled. Makes plenty for leftovers!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Spaghatta Pah!!!

Miss Lulu loves to cook. Actually both of my kiddos love to cook, and I love to cook with them. Yeah, it's messy. Yeah, it takes time. But these are precious moments, people. They will remember cooking with me and how much they loved it for the rest of their lives.

The other day we made Spaghetti Pie, Lulu and I. Where was Plato? Out back making a snow fort with the neighbor boy. That was fine, Lu and I got to have some quality girl-time. I wish my stupid camera hadn't been out of battery when she was up to her elbows in spaghetti, egg, and cheese... *sigh*. The visual will have to live in my memory. Or we will have to make it again.

She was so proud of herself when the pies came out. They tasted darn good too! This recipe makes 3 pies. You could easily cut it down if you don't need that many, but - like lasagna - these are freezable and can reheat in a jiff for another evening.

(Did I just actually use, "in a jiff" in asentence? yikes)

I took a pie to work and my coworkers raved. Wow. Who knew something so simple that a 7-year-old could make it could be so tasty?

Like many of my recipes, I created this from several I found online. I guess you could call it a recipe mash-up. I always have to write things down when I cook so if it turns out well, I can remember what I did! Only thing I might change about this is maybe add a ricotta cheese layer on top of the spaghetti and under the meatballs and sauce. You could add any pizza-y toppings you like as well (black olives, mushrooms, pepperoni). Sky's the limit here. Enjoy!

Here's the recipe:

Spaghetti Pie (makes 3 - 9” pies)
1 pkg. (14 oz.) of dry spaghetti, cooked and rinsed
3 eggs
½ c. grated parmesan cheese
½ tsp. garlic powder
½ tsp. salt
 2 jars spaghetti sauce (like Prego)
½ pkg. frozen meatballs, reheated
1 pkg. deli-sliced provolone
1 c. shredded mozzarella

Beat eggs with parmesan cheese, garlic powder, salt, and parmesan cheese. Add cooked spaghetti. Here’s where the kids can use their (clean) hands and toss the spaghetti, with the egg and cheese mixture. Press 1/3 of the mixture into the bottom and up the sides of a 9” pie dish, creating a “crust” of spaghetti. Repeat with 2 more pie dishes. Sprinkle 1/3 c. mozzarella over each crust.

Quarter the meatballs and put 1/3 of the total in each pie. Evenly distribute the sauce over the 3 pies. Evenly distribute the provolone slices over the 3 pies.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, until crust is a little crunchy and cheese begins to bubble. Serve hot, cut into wedges, with extra cheese or sauce as desired.

At this point you can cool and freeze any uneaten pies. To reheat, thaw in the refrigerator overnight, then bake at 300 degrees for about 30 minutes, until warmed through.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Peel and Eat Beer Shrimp

I've been cooking more lately; my life is back on track and I'm feeling kinda inspired. I tend to look at a lot of recipes online and then sort of come up with my own ideas. The problem is, if I don't write them down I forget about them. The other problem is, if I write them down, I tend to lose the recipes!

So this won't be a fancy, photo-laden collection of recipes. It's just my e-scribblings; the blog seemed like a good place to jot 'em down because no matter how long I neglect it, it's always right back where I left it!

Peel-And-Eat Beer Shrimp

1 lb shrimp, about 24-ct size
1 bottle beer (whatever you like; I used Michelob)
1 lemon
2 Tbs Old Bay Seasoning
2 Tbs salt
1/2 onion, halved again
water (if needed)

Devein the shrimp but leave the shells on. This sounds like a lot of work, and it kinda is, but I used kitchen shears and just cut down the back of the shell and pulled out the vein. You might get lucky and get your meat counter guy to do it, or you might get REALLY lucky and find them already done that way!

In a stockpot over med-hi heat, fry up the onion in a little butter. Leave the onion in big hunks because you're gonna get rid of it. Sprinkle in the Old bay and Salt, and when the onion is sizzling, juice the lemon into the mix, and throw in your lemon halves too. Pour in the beer and reduce the heat to med low. Simmer about 15 min. With a slotted spoon, remove the onion. You can keep the lemon in there.

Toss in the shrimp and cook them about 2 minutes. No more than 3. They overcook fast! Remove them with the slotted spoon and set aside (in the fridge if you want them cold). Crank up the heat on the broth, and boil it until it reduces a bit.

If you want to eat them warm, ladle a bit of the broth into dipping cups and add a pat of butter. Start peeling and dipping. This is what we did. They didn't last long!

If you want to eat them cold, forget the butter and cool off the broth, then pour over the shrimp (don't do this with hot broth - it will end up overcooking your shrimp). Store in the fridge until ready to eat - preferably the next day. Serve with lemon wedges and whatever sauce you like... but you won't need sauce!

Hot or cold, you could sprinkle a little extra Old Bay on 'em, and they would probably look something like the peel-and-eat shrimp at Bubba Gump's:

...but without all the gimmick. Run Forrest, Run!