Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Quarantine Cuisine: On the Subject of Broth-Making.

For those of us who remember the pot on the back of the stove going for hours or even days in our youth, I ruminate on what goodness may come when one chooses to use the bones of a beast.

There's a smell I associate with childhood that sticks with me after all these years. I smelled it in my own home, at my grandparents' home, and in the homes of many of my friends and relations. It was a slightly savory light odor that would waft through the house, particularly in the winter months.

At my house, it came from a pot on the back burner on the stove, maybe once or twice a month - after 35+ years it's fading. But it would be the bones left from a chicken, bubbling away on simmer in liquid that started out as water and that ended as something rather rich.

A few years back, that same golden liquid became one of the hottest new "superfoods" amongst the trendy foodies out there. Bone broth got so popular, restaurants on the high end of things started making and offering it at ridiculous prices.

Honestly, it baffled me - since bone broth is one of those bonus things you can choose to make at home.

We have, at the moment, two gallons of broth frozen in the deep freezer. And, thanks to the Quarantine Cuisine series of recipes I'm conjuring from a single turkey, we have another gallon just pulled from the stove after almost two days of rendering.

As I've created these dishes, I've pulled from the pot that ran over two nights on low simmer. It's gone into tetrazzini and into pot pies and into turkey and rice. It'll soon make dumplings and perhaps other things. I've added it hot right into those recipes being prepared adjacent. Water has been introduced again and again as the bones have disintegrated. Though the beginning came with not only the carcass but the drippings from the initial baking of the bird, it's been flavored just once, with a single bay leaf.

Normally I'd add more - salt and poultry seasoning, mirepoix (carrots, celery and onions), maybe sage or thyme. But because it was going into so many things, I kept it plain, adding spice and such with each further application.

How'd I make it?

Once the turkey was fully cooked, I removed as much of the meat as possible to use in all the recipes I've created. Then the bones and carcass went directly into my two-part pasta pot, along with the drippings from the French casserole in which I roasted the bird.

I always put the bones and cartilage and such in first, then add water until it reaches a few inches below the bottom pot's edge. I use my strainer set, the same one I use for pasta, to make removing the bones easy.

I added six cups of water and that single bay leaf to what had already been enhanced by the salt and garlic I rubbed on the skin before it went into the oven. It boiled overnight, with Grav getting up to break the larger bones for their marrow in the wee hours.

The making of this broth has an additional effect. It serves as a humidifier in the kitchen. And it's just a pleasant beast to have around, bubbling quietly on the back burner as I assemble each of these dishes, or wash bowls and spoons in the sink, or inventory the pantry before placing a pick-up order.

From time to time, I add a couple of cups of water, so the process of pulling those nutrients from the bones continues and the pot does not run dry.  Yeah, never let your broth pot run dry.

Eventually even the broken bones begin to disintegrate, and what's left is a rich, golden broth with tiny slivers of turkey, a protein liquid that enhances what I cook. What hasn't been used or will be used today for dumplings, will go into the freezer, ready to use for whatever we need.

This is one in a series of recipes created from a single 12 pound turkey. Read more here.

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