Stock or bone broth is all the rage, dontchaknow. Everyone’s talking about it. You can get tote bags that say ‘Boil your bones’ to carry around the Farmers Market.
I never used to think it was worth it. All that standing over a hot stove, skimming off scum. Not able to leave the house.
And then I discovered the slow cooker method. And it CHANGED MY LIFE. Now I have a freezer fully stocked with the stuff, ready to whip up a risotto or sauce or soup made with MY OWN STOCK. Like a veritable domestic goddess.
And it takes less than half an hour of actual work.
So next time you make a Boursin Roast Chicken, why not save the bones and make this? Soon you can have a freezer stocked with liquid gold too. And feel like a domestic goddess.
I usually pop the stock on after a Sunday lunch to give it a good 4 hours or so on high power, then turn it down to low when I go to bed and leave it on low until I get back from work the following day. That gives it about 20 hrs in the slow cooker. I think it needs a good 12 hours in total, and I am of a view that the longer you cook it the better the stock, but if you’re time limited just cook it overnight.
makes about 1.6 litres of stock.
- A roast chicken carcass, stripped of all its meat (save that for any number of left over chicken recipes.) (Any really dry or chewy looking bits of meat can go in the stock for extra flavour).
- One white onion, skin left on for colour, halved.
- 1-2 sticks of celery, rinsed of any grit.
- 1-2 carrots, scrubbed but not peeled.
- 2 litres cold water (or as much as you can get in the slow cooker)
Nice additions, but by no means essential:
- other left over veggies (leek tops, cabbage – NOT potatoes.)
- Parsley sprigs
- a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar. (The Hemsley sisters claim that this helps to break down the bones so it releases their flavour and goodness better. I have absolutely no idea if this is actually the case, but it doesn’t effect the taste of the stock and the Hemsley’s are absolutely beautiful, so it clearly isn’t doing them any harm…)
- 6 pepper corns.
- 3-4 raw garlic cloves.
- 2-3 bay leaves.
- Put all of the above in your slow cooker. Put the lid on the slow cooker.
- Turn the slow cooker on high for about 4 hours.
- Turn it down low for a further 8 – 16 hrs, depending on how long you have and what your schedule is like.
- Once you have decided your stock has had sufficient time, turn the slow cooker off and let the straining begin!
- I use a ladle and pour the stock through a sieve into a big mixing bowl, squidging the bones and veg in the sieve with the ladle to get all the liquid out.
- I usually strain it again through a sieve into a measuring jug.
- Pour into freezer bags. (I usually portion out 500 mls per bag as this seems to be about right for most recipes.
- HANDY HINT FOR FILLING FREEZER BAGS WITH HOT LIQUID: stand the freezer bag up in a pint glass, folding the sides over the rim of the glass.
- Leave the stock to cool and then lie it flat in the freezer (takes up less space that way.
- When I need the stock I either take it out a few hours before hand and leave it to defrost, or cut away the freezer bag and put the giant stock ice cube in a sauce pan and defrost over a low heat.
- Now you’re a domestic goddess. Well done.
The humble onion. Sitting in the background. Starting off every recipe but never given any credit. Always a bridesmaid, never a bride. Well, NO MORE. This is a recipe that makes the humble onion a star. A gorgeous, sticky, sweet star, nestled next to its supporting cast: a soft, salty Stilton and crumbly, buttery puff pastry.
This is not a quick recipe, but nor is it especially involved. One could quite easily set the onions going and then set about doing other things nearby – the washing up, folding laundry, a small dance, perhaps – returning periodically to give the onions a spuddle before returning to the dance.
It is, however, not a recipe one can rush. Caramelising onions takes time. Do not rush your onions.
For this reason, this meal tends to be one reserved for days off where the pace is a little slower and you want to savour the day. Days when you don’t want to rush anything.
(Unlike this photo, which was a little rushed because we just wanted to eat…#foodbloggerproblems)
You can, of course, make your own pastry. And if you do, not only will I admire you, but you can also run around saying you’ve made ‘A Rough Puff’, which is fun to do. If you are so inclined, I would direct you to this video. For now though, I’m sticking to shop bought.
Serves 2 hungry (greedy?) adults, or 3 less hungry
- 4 large red onions, or 6 small ones
- a good glug of oil
- a tablespoon of butter
- a garlic clove
- a small glass of red wine
- a tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 200g ready made, ready rolled puff pastry (or buy a block and roll it out yourself – it’s more economical that way)
- 60g stilton or other blue cheese
- salt and pepper
- to garnish: a few basil or parsley leaves, fresh rosemary or walnuts (entirely optional, but nice if you have them in)
- Peel your onions, chop off the root and top, then slice them through the middle. Slice them as finely as you can, so that when the layers are separated they look like little crescents. (Don’t worry if you cry, you’ll be adding salt anyway.)
- Heat a good glug (3tbsps) of olive oil and the butter in a large frying pan on a medium heat.
- Add the onions to the pan, coat them in the oil and butter. Add a pinch of salt.
- Turn the heat right down and cook the onions ever so gently, stirring occasionally for about 30 minutes. Do not rush your onions (this is when you can do the washing up or a little dance. Don’t go too far away though because you need to make sure they don’t catch or burn)
- After 30 mins they should have shrunk and they should be glossy and a little sticky.
- Finely slice or press a clove of garlic and add this to the pan, giving a little stir. Continue to cook on this low heat for a further 5 mins.
- Now for the fun bit: turn up the heat to a medium heat. Throw in your small glass of red wine and balsamic vinegar. Give it a good stir and watch while the onions drink it all up. (You’ve just deglazed a pan. Get you!)
- Once it’s all drunk up, turn the heat off entirely.
- Preheat your oven to 180’C.
- Prepare a baking tray by lining it with foil and lightly brushing the foil with oil.
- If you are using a block of pastry, roll it out now into the shape you want your tart to be. I make mine a rectangle, if only because my baking tray is a rectangle and ready-rolled pastry is too. But you can do it in a circle. Or a triangle. Or go off-piste entirely. There are no rules.
- We’re going to make the tart upside-down. So arrange your onions on the prepared baking tray, remembering to leave a border that will form your crust.
- Crumble and evenly distribute about two thirds of your cheese over your onions.
- Now lie your pastry over your onions and cheese so that it covers them and leaves a little border for a crust. You might want to tuck your edges in a little bit.
- Pop it in the oven, with the pastry on the top for about 35 minutes, until the pastry is golden and beautiful.
- When cooked, remove the tart from the oven. Carefully (use an oven glove or a teatowel) lightly put a chopping board on top of the pastry and then turn it all over (so the board is underneath and the baking tray on top).
- Lie the board on a flat surface and carefully remove the baking tray.
- Some of the onions might be stuck on the foil – that’s no big deal, just gently scrape them off and put them back on the tart.
- Top with the remaining cheese and garnishes of your choice!