Monday, December 19, 2011

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and "much of the best to you all"

Mexican Hass avos and Coffee beans from Uganda, not local but two of my favorite things. 

FYI-- some of my food photography:

                          Photograph by Michael Plunkett copyrighted 2011   all rights resevered- no permission to use. NONE
                                                                   Buy it or get a camera. 

Friday, November 25, 2011

Lentil Chestnut Pancetta Soup- a hearty winter meal in a bowl.

 "Beautiful Soup! Who cares for fish,
Game or any other dish?
Who would not give all else for two
Pennyworth only... of beautiful Soup?"
   Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.      


Lentils-  I used Goya (2 cans as there were time issues over the holidays)
             next time I will use the better choice, Puy Lentils
Bay leaves - 2 are fine
Olive oil – I used grass fed Leaf Lard that I recently rendered.  Just a dab. Or two tablespoons of EVOO – but please never use industrial seed oils like corn, soy, canola, etc. NEVER EVER. Bad stuff, unhealthy.
Pancetta- ½ lb. mine was Garlic and sage chopped – next time I would use more (1 lb +) - it really made this soup special.  I do not think Bacon would work nearly as well, it should not have a smoky quality
Roasted Chestnuts- about a pound broken into pieces
Small onion, a small carrot and a small stalk of celery- Onion ( 50%) Carrot (25%) and Celery ( 25%) is a classic mirepoix used to start almost any dish.
Fresh Thyme leaves-  to taste
Fresh chopped Sage leaves- to taste    
Ginger from root- to tatse
Red wine- ½ bottle of a red ( a malbec or any good Burgundy- use a wine that you would drink or not at all) but I might try a white next time. 
Beef stock- I used a cup but add slowly and be a judge to the consistency you like.
Tomato water-  see link  about a ½ cup
Tomato paste
Red Chili Paste- Mexican, Thai, Indian- you pick, even a slightly roasted Habanero will do, seeds or not.


Roasting chestnuts, NOT on an open fire-  but on a cookie sheet pan in an oven. Peeling off shell, then crumbling.
Slicing and chopping carrots, onions and celery to make a mirepoix with a chef knife
Dicing pancetta with a chef knife
Open a bottle of wine then pouring into the pot and a glass.
Stirring with a wooden spoon.
Tasting as you good with a metal spoon. Going mmmmm, so others can hear.  

 The chestnuts - split with an “X”, and place on roasting pan – about 375 for about 15 mins.

In the meantime:
Let’s start with the pancetta. I cook in a small red Dutch Oven, my favorite big pot for soups stews and the like. chop, dice pancetta into small uniformed pieces, use a very sharp knife and don't cut yourself like I do (sometimes).

I used a small dab of the Lard to put a sizzle on the pancetta as it hit the pot (Dutch oven) and let it brown on a reduced heat- no rush. Burning is bad.

Using the rest of the Lard or OO in another pot-  sweat the Onions, follow with the carrots and celery. This takes about ten minutes then dump into the Dutch Oven Pot with the panchetta, stir.

Add the two Bay Leaves with half the wine and a can of the lentils ( no water from can please), stir on a Medium to low heat- the Dutch Oven loves to stay hot so keep an eye on it. Never let it boil. Allow some of the wine to evaporate. Again no rush. Enjoy the aromas.

While the pots are on low, shell the chestnuts, then crumble by hand and add to the mix.

Pour the tomato water (1/2 cup) and a little of the beef stock into the pot along with the other can of lentils, stir while adding the remaining herbs and set on low.  Allow to cook for about thirty mins after adding the tomato paste (any tomato product will do like stewed or crushed if you like -it’s your soup)- watch and judge your stoves heat, adding the rest of the wine and chili paste which adds a slight dimension of heat. Save the additional beef stock if you need to thin out the soup if you like.  Also add liquids or any herbs slowly and taste as you go.  The soup should and will rest over-night before serving as it gets a bit hotter, bolder and heartier.  


Next time I might puree some of the lentils and add a little more stock to it, perhaps chicken if I make some. ( but still use Beef as the main stock) and use the better lentil, the French green lentils (lentilles du Puy).
I will use more pancetta if I can get it from PorcSalt in Warminster, PA.
Might kick up the chestnuts after they roast and pan fry them for a few seconds. 
Yes, I used no garlic but I may next time around serve with some soft roasted garlic on a hard rye or a day old sourdough.
Guess what the other half bottle of wine is for?  

                      Photograph by Michael Plunkett copyrighted 2011   all rights resevered- no permission to use. NONE
                             Buy it or get a camera. 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Watermelon Radish

Mainly harvested in the autumn these round pale green skin- pink on the inside- are turnip shape and "they" say, grows to the size of a baseball, though mine were no bigger than a golf ball. Sweet with a crunchy texture with a peppery bite, the watermelon look of the radish should, not only add brilliant color to a plate, but a few smiles and conversations as well. A win-win. 

Use like any other radish or daiken, I'm going to quick blanch a few and add to a "Mash" of potato, turnip and cauliflower and see if the pink hue adds anything to the dish. I'm sure the peppery taste will be nice and should hold up to all the sweet potato, and cranberry dishes this holiday.

Photograph by Michael Plunkett copyrighted 2011   all rights resevered- no permission to use. NONE
Buy it or get a camera. 

Sunday, November 6, 2011


The extremely hot, dry summer did produce some wickly hot Habaneros from my New Jersey Community garden.  And you cannot hide the heat when you cook with them so be careful with how much you use.

Even though I'm Irish, I still like the color of this chili pepper when blended into a Irish colcannon of
potatoes with cabbage or kale.

Photograph by Michael Plunkett copyrighted 2011   all rights resevered- no permission to use. NONE
Buy it or get a camera. 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

How to Stay a Foodie Family on Food Stamps

How to Stay a Foodie Family on Food Stamps   another great article from Civil Eats.  

"It’s surprising how many people will criticize your desire to buy healthy, unprocessed foods on government assistance, while they think nothing of subsidizing the nation’s dependence on medications for type-two diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and other illnesses with a lifestyle component."   Blogger Note:  Type II diabetes may not be "lifestyle induced" as new research is showing that cause and effect may not be what we thought. 

** I will admit that this article is geared more toward the newly expanding whitish middle class, professional degree carrying, home owning, middle class unemployed rather than the urban poorer not as educated, struggling for years, lower income poor.  The very educated white trash middle class is growing everyday in America- I’m one of them.

Photograph by Michael Plunkett copyrighted 2011   all rights resevered- no permission to use. NONE
Buy it or get a camera. 

California Ignores Its Own Scientists on Dangerous Pesticide

California Ignores Its Own Scientists on Dangerous Pesticide

And .....
you wonder why I avoid California produce as often as I avoid produce from CHINA???
Eat local from small family farmers, and never from corperate based conglomerates.

Small Farmer= healthy food, supports local economy 
Conglomarates= profit (lots) at any cost to YOU.
Death and illness with extreme health care cost in the end.

You do the math !  Fight for your food. 

Photograph by Michael Plunkett copyrighted 2011   all rights resevered- no permission to use. NONE
Buy it or get a camera. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Fancy Food Show- rough draft preview

SORRY for this delay but I experienced a flash card corruption, as much as I hate working on video tape, it never corrupted. I am working through this and shouild have these completed soon. 

More to come from the Fancy Food Show including a few videos:

Cute, yes-  serving Austraian Coffee

lower level- section B

Philadelphia's own Guy Mitchell, of the White House Chef Tour, at the Fancy Food Show.

We ate the most incredible pork from acorn -fed pigs. It was the finest in the world. And soon to be available in the USA

  It was so good - so clean and pure- we ate it like carpaccio, raw.  I want more.

I loved this quilty frozen pleasure from India- Kulfi- like ice cream.

Kulfi- Frozen treat of India by way of Dallas

 Great French Champagne badly in need of an importer-  I'd buy it all the time.

Forget-Brimont Grand Cru- tasty

Biolive Oilve Oil from Argentina - also needs to be imported to the US.
 Best tasting Olive oil of the day.

Wonderful Oilves and garlic, but I don't think these ladies really weanted to get out of their chairs.

Chef at work - Koren Pop Up restaurant- very nice. 

and my ride home:

Friday, June 10, 2011

Tale of Two Markets

A look at two uniquely different Farmer's Markets, the historic Reading terminal market in Philadelphia which is open year round, famous for its comfort food, and Amish/Mennoite sensibilities in the center of a fast paced city and the quaint Rutgers Gardens Farmer Market, New Brunswick, NJ, dedicated to selling quality seasonal produce and has the feel of a Renaissance Faire at first look but quickly reveals several "must visit" merchants that puts this little Farmer's Market at the top of anyone's list.   

(L) Rutgers, Reading Terminal Market


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Sugar Snap Peas- another sweet spring treat

                                                          Sugar   Snap    Peas

Sugar Snap Pea    c Michael Plunkett 20111

Another spring offering  - the 'eat 'em raw', sugar snap pea. You can't stroll a farmer's market without being offered a 'snap to munch on.  Sugar snaps, an edible-podded pea, has a less fibrous pod, unlike the snow peas, so they are good to munch right out of the quart basket or from a bag in front of a summer blockbuster, much better than $$popcorn$$.

Planted early, even with a little frost, then picked young and sweet. Great on salads or stir fried. Steamed but never boiled. Grabbing one end and eating it raw might just be the best way. Or as the French call them  'mangetout' as in "eat all"   and they are not called "sugar" for nothing.  Now in season in New Jersey and surrounding states.

Sugar snap peas  c Michael Plunkett  20111

Having a high sugar count, a cup of these will contain a little more than 16g carbs and 6g of fiber, so you low low carb-ers take note.  Sugar snaps do have a very satisfying crunchy mouth feel to them which is tough to match. Being high in Vitamin K is a nice plus, so enjoy them.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Well-Raised Meat- a book review

Butcher's Guide to Well-Raised Meat  by Joshua and Jessica Applestone with Alexandra Zissu

In book stores June 7th

There have been several good books about meat published in the last few years, and all by women, Deborah Krasner's “Good Meat” and Marissa Guggiana's “Primal Cuts.” Both books deal with the choice of using sustainable grass -fed meat, and followed on the heels of Jennifer McLagan's milestone book “Fat, an appreciation of a misunderstood Ingredient.”  Thank you ladies for taking the bull by the horns. Together these three books, each in their own way, support a better way to produce meat and begin to try and correct a deeply ingrained vilified and disparaged food source and what it represents in a recipe, and on the plate as part of a truly healthy diet.  A properly raised, humanly slaughtered, correctly butchered animal presented to an cook who will dignify all the labor that brought it to his or her kitchen is what sustainable animal husbandry and farming is about.

 Slaughter?  Butcher? ......Oh my ! 

At work, head butcher, Bryan Mayer.
 This is where Joshua and Jessica Applestone begin their book, "The Butcher's Guide to Well-Raised Meat." When was the last time you saw a butcher? Do you even know a Butcher? Well, probably not.  Once, ever town at had at least one butcher shop where buying meat and catching up local gossip, as the butcher remembers the exact way you like your chops tirmed,  it was a way of life and everyone was treated as part like family. I worked in such a shop when I was in high school.  The supermarket guys in their white lab coats are not butchers, since everything comes pre- packaged and boneless. Slice, remove, display, repeat.  Butchers are a dying breed, so even when Joshua and Jessica wanted to open a butcher shop, in Brooklyn, New York, , that wasn’t the weird part. And if coming from a long line of family butchers and using an old family name, ‘Fleisher’ (yes- it means butcher) and opening a shop against everyone's advice, wasn’t weird enough. Joshua and Jessica are (were) Vegetarians.

Grass fed Flat iron steak

It was important to Jessica that when she ate “Bacon,” that gateway meat vegetarians latch on to, that is was from a humanly, well –raised, truly respected animal.  But sustainable farming of organic, grass fed meat was only found on the internet, NOT local and shipped frozen.  And having to buy a whole steer for a steak was not ideal.  There had to be a better way. A local butcher shop- something the neighborhood hasn’t seen in generations, with butchers revitalizing a noble trade, albeit a lost skill, was the way to she could create change on a large scale, not only to a neighborhood but to a whole industry.
Jessica’s dream of owning a butcher shop came true, Fleisher’s she likes to say is the “Cheers” of butcher shops.

The Butcher’s Guide to Well-Raised Meat is a guide for the consumer as to how to buy, cut and cook beef, pork, lamb and poultry. BGtWRM is a charming memoir, and reference book that is practical, honest and hard hitting.
“…livestock, like McMansions, are the most environmentally friendly things going. They require a lot of water, food and land….but most Americans aren’t going to stop eating meat entirely….modified soy crops isn’t hugely eco, either… ways to reduce that impact is to avoid conventional meat and second is to eat locally and only whole, not processed, foods.”
It is the manifesto of the Nose-to Tail sustainable meat movement, a book written for the public, and not for a group of elitist foodies to debate its pros and cons of raising livestock on grass or corn. As the title reads, it is about WELL-RAISED, not merely grass fed.  This is where and how the industrial, factory farms of the conventional meat industry went wrong, by not being well raised. Factory farming of animals is obsence, they stole the outdoors from the animals, first chickens, then hogs, feedlots for steers confine them to be fattened on corn before trucked away for slaughter. These factories breed sickness which developed the need for antibiotics, which bred superbugs in its defense which effects all of us- animal, worker, consumer. The remedy is quite simply, lets go back a few generations, and allow our livestrock to be raised in open air, grazing and standing on real grass, green from the sun, not inside a feedlot standing in its manure eating a fed that makes it sick.  Why?   well besides profit, maybe the consumer needs to be educated, too.

"Only in modern times do we expect to eat meat three times a day and consider a 20 ounce steak to be an individual portion."   Spoken like a former vegetarian, huh?   And he is correct.

Read BGtWRM, I like that it is a proper size book, similiar in size of a text book, not a over size, heavy, glossy table top book which won't be opened more than twice (and as a photographer, believe me- I want to do those big books).  Lots of information even a vegetarian would respect like why veal even exists and how it doesn't have to be the way we hear it is.
Naturally it includes some fine recipes and secret rubs for you to use. The book covers just about everything you need to know about sustainable meats and a much needed chapter on how to read labels. What the labels claim is not even close except under the law.

And the best way to cook bacon..... in a oven-  go figure, my cast iron skillet is in tears.

As Joshua and Jessica say: 

 " We never forget that animals die for our business and your dinner."

Don't you!

I give it a 10.

I would like to thank Crown publishing a divison of Random House for supplying me with an advance copy of the book. Next stop- Fleisher's.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Strawberry Fields shouldn't be forever


Strawberries- A June thing in Jersey

Strawberries were once a highly anticipated fruit, but now the season is 11 months long, and it is not all for the better. These big agriculture strawberries are not grown for flavor but to withstand a journey across the United States from the West coast and to look pretty in the supermarket until bought.  Because of this, strawberries are ranked third in the famed 'dirty dozen' fruits and vegetables for pesticides, fungicides and other chemicals which help them withstand its time on a truck.  Even a locally grown and pick strawberry will have its share of pesticides, so wash them well - but not until you are ready to eat them.
Strawberries are another spring gift, it is hard to image something so sweet can be enjoy this early in the year. Don't miss out. 

Strawberries are irrefutably, without question the Fruit of Love. Heart shaped in form, sweet to the taste and lusciously red in color to the eye. Can they be anymore the silent voice of love;they aren't oysters but way nicer to share and dip in chocolate.  Floating in a glass of champagne, and delivered with a kiss, strawberries will never need a date on a calendar with a Hallmark card and a pretty box of chocolates to reveal one's feelings ( Well, chocolates? Sure lets do it).  June, with all its strawberries, is the month for Lovers - not a single day in February. 

Just picked Jersey Strawberry in some Valley Sheppard Sheep Yogurt
The good news is that the local season has arrived in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. You will not be able to avoid the numerous "strawberry festivals" at least until the blueberry festivals take their place next month.  Best eaten from the stem; mixed in a yogurt; wrapped in a crepe or mashed into a sauce over ice cream.   Great with creamy cheeses like my beloved goat Chevre or a nice Brie.
 The local strawberry is still a very much an anticipated season for many of us familiar with the taste.

Strawberries Fields forever?  Okay, but once a year if you want the best. 

side note------>  As a diabetic, I eat strawberries in the evening when my mitochondria is stoked.  

Chilled Strawberry Champagne Soup

About one quart of fresh strawberries – washed and hulled
1/3 of a cup of sugar (I hate sugar but it is still the only sweetener to cook with)
2 ounces of orange juice
about 2 ounces of dry champagne for each bowl (brute if you prefer) don’t open until ready to serve- then serve the remaining bottle in glasses to quest(s)

options for toppings:

A fine creamy rich ice cream, say chocolate- a small dollop in the center of if melted- “script” the surface with a nice swirl.  But don’t let the chocolate over power.

(not the soup)

A Greek style yogurt with orange zest. 

In a blender, puree the strawberries, sugar and orange juice. Add a single ice cube if your blender can handle it ( OJ ice cubes would be very cool but that’s planning ahead)
Transfer into a large bowl and let chill for a few hours in the refrigerator or about 20 mins in the freezer- DO NOT FREEZE.
Pour into a bowl with about 2 oz of the champagne you just popped.
Add the topping if any.  

Above all else- enjoy your quests.


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Mollet - the perfect soft yolked egg

gooey, succulent rich orange healthy yolks

Everyone claims to have the secret to cooking the perfect egg.  Working years to perfect their eggy-weggs into nirvana perfection. Let me set the record straight- this took only 6 minutes before I recognized NIRVANA- So if you may, let me introduce to you the creamy rich orange yolk of the 6 minute Mollet. 
Hard boil eggs have soild yolks and soild whites, boil them too long and you have rubbery whites. Soft boiled eggs have runny yolks and runny whites. Mollets, have soild whites and thick rich creamy deep orange yolks from pastured eggs, of course, from hens that roam and fed under the sky, eat bugs and cluck happily in the sunlight.  

 Three eggs warmed to room temperature – a warm bowl of water for a few mins will take the chill of them.  (keeps them from cracking in the water- and if they do- no big deal the inside is still near perfect.)
Do you see the "Duck"?

 Salt a pot of water then boil it to a nice roll.
Set eggs in water with a wooden spoon or tong.
Reduce heat to medium without losing much of the boil
Time eggs for 6 minutes. Pull early not late for the drain.
Drain water and rattle the eggs in the pot to gently crack the shells,
add cold water, drain  add cold water and a handful of ice.

The crack in the shells will allow the cold water to seep between the shell and the membrane to facilitate easy peeling of the egg. Old eggs (supermarket) peel easy. Farm fresh eggs do not. The slight crack makes all the difference in the world

Let chill for 2 to 3 minutes, then peel and serve, so they are still warm.  Add salt, a friend and you are set. Where’s that avocado?   

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Tabasco butter....for June, the nicest friend I have yet to meet.

I have been experimenting with flavored butter, using a good local pastured butter - if I can find one, Kerry Gold from Ireland or Smjor from Iceland are two wonderful butters that are easy to find at Whole Foods.

side note ---------->  June and her husband Danny owned a restaurant in Ecuador that served incredible food called "Bocaditos No Tipicos" but sadly closed their doors in hope for a more normal life instead of the LONG hours needed to run a first class eatry, a favorite among Gringos and locals.  The good news is that  they now conduct extraordinary culinary workshops and cooking classes. Beside the usual kitchen skills, June and Dan tour local markets, teaching 'chefs' the how's, what's and when's about local produce and groceries; visits to local farms to see where it all comes from; and excursions to artisians cheese makers, and wineries for inspiration. 
Even with airfare, the cost of the classes would be a savings compared to what is offered in the States. June and Dan are New Yorkers in a former life. I had the chance of meeting them through a stroke of good fortune.

Tabasco Butter. Tabasco  is a trade name... you can use any hot peppered red sauce that you like. I will call it Tabasco because the recipe from the cookbook- My Favorite Ingredients by Skye Gyngell calls it as such.

8 tbs of unsalted Butter. Smjor is sold as lightly salted and will work.
I tbsp of Dijon Mustard
25 drops or so of Tabasco
good squeeze from half a Lemon.
sea salt

Soften butter to room temperature, do not melt in microwave
Add mustard and Tabasco and whip in small bowl
Squeeze lemon half, then whip with a pinch of salt for the unsalted butter.

Lick spoon...wait for it, wait....  Is it too hot or not hot enough? make adjustments. Does it need a pinch of Basil or Dill?  Too hot?  Add some local Honey.  

Return to refrigerator.  Soften to use.

This is great on Asparagus and mixed with mayo for a burger, you figure it out- that's half the education.

As Dan pointed out in his comment, Butter is a great Confit to preserve fresh Herbs. There is an herb that compliments every dish and Butter goes with everything, so pick some favorites for chicken, lamb or veggies like cauliflower and Broccoli.

Maitre D'Hotel
This goes well with grilled fish or steak
8 tbs Butter
2 tbs finely chopped Parsley
Light squeeze of Lemon.

Soften butter then whip in a bowl, adding the parsley and a small squeeze of Lemon, whip to a smooth even colored finished, slightly chill.  With a melon baller, scoop into balls and place iced water for 20 mins, and then refrigerate until needed.
use parchment paper and roll butter up like Turkish taffy, refrigerate until hard, unwrap and slice when needed.  Butter will have a nice green tint.

Nasturtium, garlic, anchovy, brandy, rum, honey and mustards- all  work well.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Local Food Finds @ Moorestown & Headhouse Farmer's Markets

Carlos plays a medley from Wizard of Oz 
Headhouse Farmer's Market, Old City, Philadelphia
It was a perfect weekend to visit several local farmers’ markets. One purpose of this blog is to encourage cooking. Cooking your meals is the keystone to good health. Everything is in your control not somebody from a chain restaurant watching the bottom line from a corporate desk with a view from high a top a large city. Good meals need a good cook and a good cook needs good ingredients. And good ingredients deserve respect. A farmers’ market is the only place to go and buy good local straight from the farmer (or the farmer's daughter working the stand) ingredients. Yes, it cost a bit more but cheap food is a plague on society (more on that later). Buy quality, and eat quality so to BE quality. It is YOUR Health, so why be penny wise and dollar foolish. Pay the Farmer now or pay the Hospital later. 

Headhouse Farmers' Market is in Old City, Philadelphia a block from South street on 2nd and Lombard.  Local sustainable farming is the rule here for agriculture, dairy and meat.  A win-win-win. Merchants such as Hillacres Pride sell cheese, raw milk and grass fed beef; Savoie Organics has heirloom produce, and greens; and Philly Fair Trade Roasters- damn good Nicaraguan medium roast just to name one they offer. This was my first visit and I'll be back every Sunday.

Moorestown farmer's Market. located on an old farm (how perfect) on Centerton Rd, Moorestown, NJ is my "go to" every Saturday farmers' market. Smaller in size then some but loaded with top notch merchants like Artemis Farm for the very best eggs and grass fed pork, veal and beef produced a proper farmer who respects the connection of Farm and Kitchen.  Hunter's Farm for vegetables and produce, Spinella Farm for dandelion, mixed greens, fresh asparagus, and the best green beans on the planet- they better save me some. And I'm leaving out a few that I will make mention in future posts.

You will also has find live music, cooking Demonstration by some of the best chefs in the area, hand crafted soap, flowers and craft merchants and cooked food round out the market. Moorestown is power packed.

Hillacres Pride  Raw Milk
Garlic Scape, use like scallions, taste like garlic. Makes a nice pesto with almonds.
Tatsoi - use like Spinach- Blooming Glen Farm. Headhouse, F-M


 Many exotic greens like Tatsoi are now being grown locally thanks to the effects of sustainable farmers working outside the supermarket system

Memorial weekend shoppers @ Headhouse F-M 

Sea of purple tipped Asparagus at the Moorestown Farmers' Market

Hunter Farms @ Moorestown F-M

(l) Red Radish and (r) French Breakfast Radish
The French like to dip the radish in butter for breakfast- can't argue with that !

Baby carrots
 All photographs taken by Michael Plunkett and are not to be re-posted  copyrighted 2011- MP

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Making Stock

Bones for a beef sstock

We are going to explore the art of making stock - beef, chicken and vegetable. It does take a little work, mostly water and heat. The time is well spent and besides your dog will love you. Homemade stock is so nutritious, the stuff in the supermarket pales in comparison. Get proper bones from a properly raised grass fed animal and you will understand why in the old days chicken soup was grandma’s antibiotic.

 Nothing satisfies a hunger like a simply bowl of beef stock with a few onions.  Stock is great for many recipes that call for simply water, just choose your stock wisely. Chicken works for almost everything. Always use a stock instead of water in a Risotto.

Because quality beef bones are harder to find these days, we will start with making a chicken stock.  I will post the procedure shorty. 

I have found very little difference in any of my cookbooks with making a chicken stock, and  plenty of different approaches to making a classic brown beef stock  but I will give you two versions, one Irish and one French, a Fond de Volaille.    The Irish version is very simply and yields about 3 quarts with less chicken whereas the French version is richer and darker by using more chicken and reducing it down to 2 quarts. I’m guessing the Irish were hungrier. 

Irish version a combination from Darina Allen and her friend Colman Andrews:
You will need a large pot-  8-12 qt is plenty big. Wait until you have made one or two before purchasing a good one.  A second smaller pot or bowl to drain the stock into. A skimmer to skim off foam and solids.  And a strainer of fine mesh. Plus a little cheesecloth never hurt. Kitchen twine. Glass containers for stock with lids like Pyrex.
About 3-5 pounds of chicken bones. It can be raw ( buy a roaster and carve off the good pieces to use some other time or left overs with neck, heart, liver and gizzards if you have them. Get in the habit of never throwing away anything.  Break up the carcases if they are large.
1 or 2 onions,  rough chop, don’t dice 'em small.  Yellow, Sweet, Spanish are best.
2 carrots again a rough coarse chop
2 stalks of celery- rough chop.

The onion, carrot and celery are aromatics and are called the “Trinity” in many cooking circles and a mirepoix by the French. Don’t  walk into a kitchen without them.
Options:  white part of a Leek, some Parsely leaves fresh only, a sprig of thyme and about 6 peppercorns. Again, an option  Darina list them but not Andrews.
Salt – much later.

Details:  Put all ingredients into the large pot and add enough COLD water to cover by an inch or two- no more.  Cover pot and bring to a quick boil over high heat.  Uncover pot, REDUCE heat to LOW and let simmer for 3-4 hours. Skim foam and solids every 20 minutes or so.

Strain the stock, discarding the solids. Rinse out pot, then return the stock and simmer for another 30-40 minutes, add sea salt- about a tablespoon.  Cool in room for a short time, then refrigerate fopr about three hours. You can put into containers at this point. After three hours you can skim off solid fats from the top- freeze some and began to use some.  The last removal of fat makes the stock lighter and clearer. Leave the fat for a richer darker but more cloudy stock.

Want more flavor?  Use more chicken and / or reduce the stock you have saved in a pan by a third or half.   

I love the endearing quality of my Irish cookbooks and I would be remiss if I didn't add that according to Colman Andrews, Rabbit bones can be substituted for chicken- just so you know.    

next up a french version.....