Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Homemade Stock and Carnaroli Risotto:

"Paper jam?!? Why does it say paper jam when there is no paper jam!?" I exclaimed.

I was working at my law firm late, attempting to prepare a package of pleadings to send for filing. And at that very moment, I was just about ready to take off my shiny black pump and start wailing on what I am sure is a very expensive -- yet incredibly fussy -- copier.

I'd already taken the thing apart twice and extracted one crumpled piece of paper from it. Now I had opened it back up and, as far as I could peer into its gaping, mechanical maw, I didn't see any more paper. I put it back together and attempted to copy the rest of my packet--which was on page 177 of 250.

Paper jam! The copier informed me gleefully.

"That is it! Thing is lucky I'm not armed." I grumbled, grabbing my half copied stack. I stomped down to the main copy room, where I was promptly thrust into a full-scale rubber band war between the part-time employees.

That is where I found myself that evening. Dodging flying rubber bands in the copy room after hours, at a copier covered with random clown-rap quotes written on post-it notes.

When I finally finished all the copies, I left for home. The temperature had dropped considerably, and it was chilly. I was cold, and I had two wicked paper cuts. Luckily for me, it was national "Men Make Dinner Day," and we had all the ingredients to make one of my favorite dishes.

Carnaroli Risotto, how does it work?*
We had picked up some fancy Carnaroli rice from Findlay Market, and, with Jeff's helpful instruction, had made our own stock a few days prior with onion, carrot, celery and 3 pounds of chicken necks (which only cost $2 from Heist!), also purchased at Findlay.

We've made risotto before, after we started watching Hell's Kitchen and were curious what the big deal was and why Gordon Ramsay kept screaming about it. We've made risotto with beef stock, chicken stock, seafood stock and vegetable stock.

With me as sous chef, David made risotto and we roasted a pork tenderloin. On a chilly evening, the risotto was perfect, and the homemade stock really took it up a level. The rice was very good, however, I'm not convinced that it's worth the hefty price tag ($9.00 a bag) as opposed to Arborio, which is less expensive.

"Tri-force" Stock recipe:
3 lbs. Chicken necks
3 lg. Celery stalks
3 lg. Carrots
3 lg. Garlic cloves
3 Bay leaves
1 md. White onion
3 qt. Water

Wash the celery, and peel the carrots, onion, and garlic cloves. Dice all the vegetables except the garlic, which you will leave whole.

In a heavy 5 qt. dutch oven, brown the chicken in batches. When finished browning, drain the rendered fat, leaving a few tablespoons behind. Add the diced onion and cook until translucent and softened. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.

Just when the pot has begun to boil, transfer it to an oven preheated to 170 - 180 F. This is probably about as low as your oven can go; you do not want the stock to boil or simmer, since the high temperature will destroy the subtle flavors. This is one of the key advantages of homemade over store-bought stock. Let the stock cook like this for three to four hours, stirring every hour or so.

When finished, strain the stock to remove the solids (especially the bay leaves!). The stock will be very aromatic and flavorful, but quite bland from the lack of salt. You can leave the stock unsalted for cooking purposes, or salt it to taste. We gravitate toward a ratio of 1 tsp of Morton coarse kosher salt per pint. The brand and type of salt you use can dramatically alter this ratio, though. CHOW has a good article on the sodium level of different salt types here.

Whatever stock you don’t plan to use in the next few days should be frozen. If frozen, the stock will keep indefinitely.

When the stock is refrigerated, you will notice a layer of solid fat that has formed on the surface. Do NOT skim or throw away. It carries a significant amount of the flavor. We're serious. Keep the fat.
*If you're up to date on your memes and parodies, or perchance your clown rap, you may recognize what I'm referring to.


  1. Okay, "Tri-Force" made me laugh. Flattered as always by the shout-out. My compliments to David, the stock had such good color!


I try to be honest, fair and keep a good sense of humor in my posts--I would appreciate if you follow the same policy with your comments.