Wednesday, March 12, 2014
Typically recipes call for chicken stock, which is easily made at home or available in food stores. Occasionally veal or beef stocks crop up in recipes. These are much more concentrated stocks and if you’re going to make your own be prepared for it because they require long, slow simmering, anywhere from 6 to 12 hours. But they are increasingly available frozen in specialty stores like Whole Foods or Rosemont—and fairly expensive for a pint-size container.
One of my favorite stocks, though, is that made from lamb. The need for this stock doesn’t come up often but is a staple used by chefs in England and France.
It’s no more complicated to make than veal or beef stock, and its intense flavor is highly prized for the preparation of lavish sauces (such as the classic Grand Veneur sauce for venison) or the braising liquor for slow-cooked meats like lamb shoulder or shanks.
The recipe here will yield about 3 quarts of stock. What I like to do is to reserve about one to two quarts and then boil down the rest to its most concentrated form until it becomes a very rich brown sauce, similar to the French demi-glace, which is used as the base for lavish sauce making.
Concentrated, reduced lamb stock
The method is to boil down about a quart or two of the finished stock until you have about a cup and is thick enough to “glaze” or coat the back of a spoon.
You’ll need to find lamb bones and occasionally butcher shops like Pat’s Meat Market, Rosemont and Whole Foods will have them. Alternatively check out the farmer’s market vendors who sell lamb. They will often have packages of bones. I’ve gotten mine from Buckwheat Blossom Farm at the Portland winter market and at Apple Creek Farm at the Brunswick indoor market.
While the stock has many uses, it’s a great ingredient to add concentrated flavor to many preparations. In a broccoli puree, for instance, add a tablespoon or two to the puree along with butter that you whisk into the mixture. Use it to glaze carrots (veal stock is excellent for this, too) and other vegetables.
Servings: 3 to 4 quarts or more
About 5 pounds lamb bones
2 carrots, scraped and chopped roughly
2 onions, peeled and chopped
1 heaping tablespoon tomato paste
1 large branch thyme
Salt, to taste
1 bay leaf
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Put the bones and vegetables into a large roasting pan and brown in the oven, turning occasionally, for about 45 minutes.
Transfer to a large stockpot and cover with water by about 2 inches. Add the tomato paste and seasonings. Bring to a very lively simmer and simmer for about 15 minutes, uncovered, skimming off the impurities that rise to the top.
Then simmer very gently, uncovered, for a minimum of 6 hours and up to 12 hours. Check the pot occasionally to maintain a steady, very slow simmer (a few bubbles on the surface). Maintain the level of liquid by adding extra tablespoons of water from time to time.
Strain the stock through a fine mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth. Allow to cool completely. Then refrigerate overnight. Skim off the fat that has congealed on top.
To use pour it through a very fine-meshed strainer into storage containers. If you are not using it right away then freeze in small containers. Or if you want its most concentrated form, boil down a portion of the sauce until it’s reduced to about a cup or slightly more.
John Golden has written about food, dining and lifestyle subjects for Downeast magazine, the Boston Globe, Cottages and Gardens magazine, Gourmet magazine, Cuisine magazine, the New York Times and the New York Post.
In his highly opinionated blog, John reports on his experiences dining out all over Maine and his visits with food personalities, farmers and farmers’ markets throughout the state.