This time of year, I tend to take stock of things. It doesn’t hurt that my birthday falls on the last day of December, when I’m wrapping up another year of my life. I stopped making resolutions a long time ago, opting instead to look behind me at what I’ve done and think a little future forward. I like to think of it as a gathering up and simmering kind of process. I think of it as taking stock.
As a chef, I love the concept and place that stock holds in my kitchen, too. Mid-month this time of year always finds me simmering scraps into flavorful bases in my home kitchen. It becomes a kind of metaphor, the fresh and salvaged bits (some whole carrots, some carrot trimmings) standing in for those parts of my recent past that I’m taking with me into the New Year. Everything marries together after a long slow simmer, emerging rich in flavor.
Here’s an easy recipe for a sweet winter stock I like to keep at the ready. Use fresh vegetables or combinations with vegetable scraps you’ve saved in your freezer—just don’t use all scraps or your flavors will turn out muddy and follow you into the New Year!
Sweet Winter Stock
Makes 3-4 quarts
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 head garlic
- smashed and peeled
- 3 onions, peeled, coarsely chopped
- 2 shallots, peeled, coarsely chopped
- 2 each carrots, peeled, coarsely chopped
- 2 parsnips, peeled, coarsely chopped
- 5 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
- ¼ teaspoon unrefined sea salt
- 4-5 quarts filtered water
- 1 fresh thyme sprig
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 black peppercorns
1. In medium stockpot, heat oil. Add vegetables and salt and sweat until softened, but not browned.
2. Add water to cover, salt, thyme and bay leaf. Bring to a gentle boil and skim off foam as it rises to the surface.
3. Simmer, uncovered, for one hour. Strain immediately. Cool and use, refrigerate or freeze for later.
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