Posted by: ThePseudotarian | September 7, 2010

I’m back! And back to basics.

Ok people, it’s been way too long. I apologize. Right after my last post, I was too busy to do any real cooking for a week or so, and then work got SO busy that I had no time to post, much less think.

Also, the above picture is entitled: Adieu Summertime. Now that fall is here, I’m buying new flannel shirts and sweaters and itching to try new stuff in my kitchen. Plus, I’ve been sitting around fire-pits, drinking bourbon, making soup, and Matt and I have been talking about buying a house now that we can stroll around with the pup and look at neighborhoods (!!exciting!!). Since the insufferable Richmond heat is starting to abate (it was STILL 92 degrees today), I’m much more willing to DO stuff and my oven and I are getting more friendly.

So today we’re getting back to basics. Mainly because I just made the most delicious batch of this EVER.

VEGETABLE BROTH!

First of all, one thing I miss most about being a carnivorous human being is actually simple. And no, it’s not bacon.

It’s chicken broth! Not many things can rival the rich silkiness of it, sorry veggiemongers. It’s been hard to adjust. Certain recipes just don’t lend themselves well to the substitution, like the Peanut Soup I’m going to post around the December holidays. Or the vegetarian Brunswick Stew I’ve been toying with in my brain for our weekly Sunday-Funday football get togethers with our friends.

And then, this week I had a revelation. A rather drunken one actually. Matt and I came home from our friends’ house and I decided that, in addition to my 5th glass of wine, I also needed to start the vegetable broth for my second-ever slow cooker experiment (do NOT ask me about attempt #1).

First of all, whenever I make broth, I always start with the theory from this recipe from Epicurious. The theory being that roasting your vegetable first gives the broth a deeper, richer flavor. I’ve liked my first attempts with it, and wanted to translate it to my slow cooker. Plus, tossing the vegetables with olive oil gives the broth a bit of fat and luxuriousness that I’ve missed from store-bought veggie broth.

Well, I won’t ruin the surprise, but here’s what I ended up with:

Roasted Vegetable Broth

1 onion, chopped into 1-inch pieces
8 oz button mushrooms, cleaned
2 parsnips, sliced
2 carrots, sliced
4 large garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
Olive Oil (see recipe body)

1 leek, sliced
1 bay leaf
1 tsp thyme

salt

Layer the onion, mushrooms, parsnips, carrots and garlic in a large oven safe dish. Then (and this is where my wine-addled brain became BRILLIANT) drizzle a generous amount of good olive oil over the vegetables. By good amount, I mean 4 tbsp to 1/4 cup. Toss the veggies and pop the dish into a 400-degree oven. And here’s where my wine-addled brain also became brilliant. I got impatient, so I took them out after about 20 minutes. Not fully roasted, but they were beautifully fragrant.

Piles the veggies into a slow cooker, and just cover with water. Add your sliced leek, bay leaf and thyme. Plug in the cooker and let go (check in on it occasionally) for about 10 hours. I’m not kidding. Add more water as the vegetables plump up and become delicious. After about hour #10, Remove half the veggies into a colander placed over a bowl. Place another bowl on top to squeeze out excess juices. Add more water until the (by now) dark stock lightens up to the color and flavor you prefer. I ended up adding maybe a total of 4 cups of water until my broth was perfect. It should have beautiful pools of oil floating around on top. Salt it to your taste, and it’s ready for soup or anything else you want to use it for.

Two things I noticed that I was doing wrong until this weekend:

  1. Roasting the vegetables too long (leeching the flavors before the hit the water)
  2. Not simmering the stock long enough (leaving too many flavors in the veggies)

Thank goodness for overnight slow cookers! The reason this rivals (and probably kicks to the curb) my beloved chicken broth is all about the oil. Check out this great article on Herbivoracious for more info on the benefits of good fats. Fats carry flavor, which is one reason high-fat foods can be so addictive. If you do it right (which I hope I did here!) you can have a flavor-packed broth that’s perfect for using and substituting in all kinds of dishes.

Look out Brunswick Stew, you aren’t safe any more!

Also, I realize that I left out some things that normal cooks would add in. Like celery. But I HATE celery and I love this broth without out.

OH – and a question for you. Am I the only one that can’t stand store-bought vegetable broths that are made with tomatoes? Something about them just tastes kind of sour or too acidic. Yuck!

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: