Today’srecipet is actually being made as a pre-cursor to another experimental culinary project I have in mind…
I have added leftover roasted vegetables to the stock-pot on many occasions but I have been curious about the results of building a stock entirely from such ingredients. Today, my plan is to roast a select number of different vegetables and then simmer them with very little seasoning and just plain water as the medium. My object will be to test not just the flavor, but also the color and clarity in a continuing reduction of the resultant broth…
- 3 medium-sized Carrots;
- 3 medium-sized Onions;
- 12 large Button Mushrooms;
- 2 small Zucchini;
- 4 stalks of Celery;
- 1 head of Garlic;
- Vegetable Oil;
- Salt and Pepper.
Peel and cut the carrot into good-sized chunks then quarter the onions and remove the outer layers, leaving the root and stem end intact so that the pieces hold together during the cooking process. Toss the carrots and the onions in a bowl with just enough oil to give them a very light filmy coating and then sprinkle with some salt and pepper.
Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees and then spread the carrots and onion pieces over the bottom of a roasting pan. Place in the oven and roast for about 45 minutes, tossing and stirring once or twice, until the vegetables are beginning to brown here and there on the surface.
Cut the celery stalks into 3 or 4 inch lengths, and cut the zucchini into chunks. Add these to a bowl with the mushrooms (left whole with the stems) and again toss with oil, salt and pepper. Now stir them into the roasting pan, making sure everything is spread out evenly and not piled up at all, and continue to roast for another 45 minutes or so, stirring once or twice.
For the last part of the roasting operation, remove the cloves from the head of garlic and, without peeling, bash them lightly with the flat side of a knife to crush them slightly. Add them to the roasting pan, stirring once again. Continue to roast for another 20 minutes or so until everything is tender and nicely caramelized, and then remove from the oven to cool.
For this amount of vegetable, I decided to begin with 4 quarts of water (16 cups). This is a considerable amount but I will be simmering for an extended period and expect to have the amount reduce by quite a lot. I used cold water and put my stock-pot on low heat only. I wish to avoid boiling the vegetables and will take care not to allow the stock to come to any more than a moderate simmer.
By the way… after roasting the vegetables, there was a nice brown caramelized residue on the bottom of the pan and I used some of the water to deglaze it and add it to the stock-pot. As you can see, the stock-to-be already has a fairly nice color to it already.
After 3 hours at a very low simmer, the stock has reduced by a bare fifth and has taken on some nice color. The taste is very mild – a little to weak to be consumed as a soup just yet – but it is surprisingly flavorful given the amount of water I started with. At this point, I tasted one of the carrots and, though a good deal of its flavor has been given up to the broth, sufficient taste remains to let the pot continue to simmer for another hour or so.
When the vegetables had clearly given up all their flavor to the broth, I strained them out and measured the remaining liquid and noted it to be a little under three quarters of its original volume. Since the remaining broth could now be boiled without risking cloudiness, I reduced it at a moderately vigorous boil until just 2 quarts (8 cups) was left.
As reduced, the flavor was now much more concentrated and, though lacking the umami punch of a meat stock, it was very rich, tasty and suitable not only to be drunk as a soup, but a good base for all sorts of sauces, or a braising medium for any number of ingredients.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, this experiment is actually a preliminary investigation I am undertaking in furtherance to a more complex culinary project I have in mind. You will be reading more about this in due course…