Monday, January 9, 2017
Making really great ham stock
I know it's a bit late to be giving you my ham stock method, for use with your ham bone from New Year's or Christmas. Unless you tossed what was left of your ham bone into the freezer, to deal with later. In any case, you can mentally file this away, for use after Easter, if you wish.
But I did want to share how I make ham stock, as I've now run into several people who have never roasted the ham bone, before the simmering part of making stock. Roasting the bone really boosts the smokey flavor of the stock.
After trimming away all of the good slices of ham to freeze, and cutting off any thick bands of fat to use for rendering, (as I showed how to do, in this post on how to render ham fat for use in cooking later) I roast the meaty ham bone in a 350 F degree oven, in a shallow baking pan, for about 20 minutes, or just until some of the edge pieces are browning.
I remove the ham bone from the oven and put it into my crockpot, still sizzling hot. In a kettle or saucepan, I bring about a quart of water to a boil. I pour this hot water over the ham bone in the crockpot, and top off with additional water, to cover the bone completely. (Boiling the water before adding to the crockpot gets the temp of the stock up to a simmer faster.)
Then, I just put the lid on, and set the crockpot to cook on LOW for 10-12 hours. I do all of this in the evening, so that my stock cooks while I sleep. It is then ready for me in the morning. Easy peasy, right?
The cooked stock is ladled into large containers and refrigerated for a couple of hours, until the fat has risen to the top and partially solidified. This fat is scooped out and reserved for cooking, in a container in the freezer.
Any remaining meat is picked off of the bone, and frozen in 2-cup amounts, covered in a few cups of the good stock. Meaty ham stock makes excellent lentil/bean soup, pumpkin soup, or potato soup.
I also freeze some stock, without meat, in 1 or 2 cup containers, for adding flavor to savory sauces or gravies, where a recipe might ordinarily call for water.
I made some really delicious lentil soup last Friday, with a quart of that ham stock. It was flavorful enough to not need much in the way of seasonings. (I did add some olive liquid and canned vegetable juice plus a pinch of salt, for flavor and to use those items that had been accumulating in the fridge.)
Just thought I'd share.
By the way, you can also freeze the thick bands of fat, to render for cooking fat plus cracklins', on another day. That's what I did, and when I have some time, I'll get to that rendering.