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Monday, 19 April 2010

Let's get Back to Basics - Broths

BROTH 
The Base to soups, stews and many dishes. Many recipes call for broth, and broth makes for most of the flavour. Starting with a good broth is the secret to successful cooking that is packed with good flavour. Broths are the base of flavour layering and creating deep flavours in your cooking. 
To me, this is the base of all cooking.  All Good foods start with a good broth... 

What is broth?
It is a liquid food preparation that consists of water or already flavoured stocks in which meats, bones, vegetables or legumes have been simmered. The strained clear liquid in which the bones, meat, poultry or fish have been simmered is what we call broth. The bones or meats can be simmered with vegetables, spices and / or herbs. The layering of flavours comes from the use of these ingredients. The choice of spices, herbs, vegetables and even the type of meat depends on the preparation in which the broth is going to be used and the overall desired flavours of a dish. Therefore, there is no rule to stick to when making broth, it all relies on the use.

Broth is similar to stock and can be used interchangeably with it. Reconstituted Bouillon can also be used when broth is specified. With that said, home-made broths and stocks are far more superior in flavour to those that are store bought. Needless to say how much healthier and better for you the homemade ones are. Remember the bouillons and store bought stocks are most likely filled with flavourings, food colourings, and /or preservatives.

The homemade broths make all the difference to the flavour of your food. To begin with, at home, you will be using all fresh and good quality ingredients, which is always key to good quality, flavourful food. When you make your own broths and stocks you can control the flavouring from spices to herbs, and even the vegetables that go in it. This way you can guarantee that no flavours clash or overwhelm the preparation you are making. Most important of all, is that you know exactly what is in your broth. You won't include artificial flavorings, preservatives and any health risking ingredients such as MSG among others.

Homemade broth is healthier and guaranteed to tremendously enhance the flavours of your food.
Therefore throw away those stock cubes, and go for fresh, home-made broth, and listen to your family and friends rave about your food. Goodness starts here.
TIP - If you lead a busy life, and think that making broth is time consuming; worry no more! Broth takes at most 30 minutes to make. Once you have made your broth, strained it and let it cool, you can pour it in ice cube trays, and freeze it, then use the cubes instead of those processed ones. One broth recipe can make you lots of cubes, which can last up to 6 months in the freezer!
 Please feel free to experiment with spices, herbs and vegetables to change the flavours for different concoctions.

There are many ways to prepare broth, as mentioned above, and many flavours to broth. Here is how you can make a basic Beef/ Lamb/ Chicken broth:


Make Your Own Beef Broth
This is the basic Beef Broth Recipe. You can experiment with different herbs, spices and vegetables according to the flavours you are after. Changing those will give your final broth the flavours and aromas of the ingredients you have chosen to add to your recipe. (this applies to chicken and lamb too)


You Need
Makes about 8 cups of broth; 
2kg meaty beef soup bones (you can use beef shank cross cut, or short ribs)
3 carrots, chopped
2 medium onions, quartered chopped
2 stalks celery with leaves, roughly chopped
2 fresh springs thyme
1 cinnamon stick
1 1/2 tsp salt
10 whole black peppercorns
Fresh Parsley springs
3 bay leaves
3 cloves garlic, unpeeled, halved
10 cups water

Place Soup Bones in a large shallow roasting pan. bake in 450 F oven for 30 minutes or until well browned. Turn once throughout.

Place browned bones in a large pot. pour 1/2 cup water into the roasting pan and scrape up browned bits; add water mixture to bones in the pot. stir in carrots, onions, celery, basil, salt, peppercorns, parsley, bay leaves and garlic. add the 10 cups of water. bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 3 1/2 hours. Remove soup bones. Strain broth, like in the photo above.

Line a large colander with 2 layers of 100% cotton cheesecloth. Set Colander in a large heatproof bowl; carefully pour broth into the lined colander.

Discard bones, vegetables and Seasoning.

Fat Skimming Broth Jug
For a lower fat version of broth
You can skim the fat from broth using the fat skimming ladle, or by placing it in fridge for 6-8 hours and removing the fat layer that forms on top.

STORING BROTH
you can cover broth and chill for up to 3 days or freeze it for up to 6 months. Freezing broth is very useful as making it could be time consuming. you can make a large amount of broth, and freeze it in 1 cup portions, or as ice cubes, which you can use as you cook.

Note that: thawed foods cannot be refrozen, therefore it is best you freeze in portions that you regularly use.



Other useful broth recipes
Chicken broth Recipe

Let's Chat - It seems we are always complaining about having no time to prepare food at home. I run a very busy schedule and totally understand that. However, small changes to my day and the way I organise my time have done wonders for me. My go to tips for gaining more hours a day are: 1. think and plan ahead. Dedicate a day for prep and use that day to prepare your veg, stocks, and all the make ahead parts and store them ready to use. 
2. don't wait until you completely run out. keep building on your pantry and freezer stock for ready options whenever needed. 
3. stock up from brands I trust when I don't have the time to prepare myself. 
4. I have dedicated slots in my day for many things including social networking, answering emails, returning phone calls. 

I found that if I do not organise my time, I get overwhelmed and hardly ever find the time to do anything really. This had been life changing to me as this is how I manage to get so much done everyday and still manage to cook a home cooked amazing meal for my family each day.

Any time management tips saved you? Share with me, as I really always look for these :)


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