Thursday, January 19, 2012

Making Stock on a Snowy Wednesday and Ramen Dinner on an Icy Thursday

Preparing for the impending snow storm, I made a trip to the store Tuesday and purchased several packages of bones to make stock.  Planning ahead for my Chinese New Year dinner, I wanted to make a good chicken stock but I also decided to try something new, a pork stock for ramen.  I'm stuck at home, I might as well let the pots boil for the day.
Every time I make a large stock, I always say to myself, "buy a larger pot".  Don't know why that never happens.


5 Quarts Water
2 Pieces Konbu, approx 3" x 5"
5 Dried shiitake mushrooms, rinsed
2 Whole chicken bones (back and breast)
5 Pounds Meaty Pork Bones
1 Onion, peeled and quartered
5 Scallions
1 1/2 Cup chopped carrots
1/2 Pound smoky bacon (I used Nueskes)


I started the afternoon before by putting all of the bones in a small brine of water, equal parts sugar and kosher salt, a few pieces of smashed ginger, and some rice wine.  Since they were going into a stock, I wasn't too concerned about measuring, just make sure you don't go overboard on the salt and sugar, but you have some leeway.  Refrigerate overnight, drain before using.
With my small pot, I started with about 3 quarts of water.  Bring to a boil, add the konbu and let simmer for a few minutes.  I took one piece of konbu out to use for my chicken stock, then added the shiitake mushrooms.  Let that simmer for a few minutes and then add the chicken, cover and let simmer while you brown the pork bones.
Lay the bones out on a large baking sheet.  I set them under the broiler until browned.  Then add them to the pot along with the onion, scallions, carrots and bacon.  Bring to a simmer.
At this point, I split my stock into two pots and added about 1 more quart of water to each pot.  If you have a pot large enough, just do everything in one pot starting with the 5 quarts of water.
Cover and let simmer over very low heat for about 8 hours.  The third pot is my chicken stock.
Let cool a bit and remove and discard the bones and vegetables, etc.  Strain the broth through a fine mesh strainer.  At this point, I incorporated both stocks into one pot.  Taste the stock and decide how much you want/need to reduce it to intensify the flavors.  I like to cook it down somewhat as I will be freezing a portion of it.  When I go back to use it, I can add water if it is too concentrated.  But it is less to store if it is cooked down to a concentrated stock.  Finish the stock with kosher salt, light soy sauce and mirin.  This is also up to your taste buds.  Mine did not need any more salt, but the soy and mirin gives it more depth of flavor.
Chill the stock overnight and skim off most of the excess fat once it's cold.  Do not remove all of it as a little bit is necessary for flavor.  I will freeze a portion and use a portion for ramen.


Come Thursday evening, I prepared the pork for the ramen.  I debated between braising, slow cooking or just roasting.  I had a few pieces of boneless country style pork ribs, or pork butt cut into the shape of country style ribs.  I put a mixture of equal parts salt and sugar on the pork, much like the way I would for a roast pork belly, and place it in the refrigerator for several hours.  Then I cooked the pork pretty much the same as a pork belly.  
Roast at 425F for 40 minutes, then at 250F for another hour.  Cover and let rest before slicing.
Then I braised some bamboo shoots in water, soy, sugar, rice wine, and a splash of grape seed oil and sesame oil.   Simmer for 20-30 minutes until tender.  


I wish I had some fishcake in the house, but forgot to buy that.  A little bit of corn, some pea vines, a piece of nori, and a soft boiled egg (okay, I over cooked them) round out the bowl.



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