A good home made stock can make the difference between a good dish and a superb one. Stock is one of the main ingredient of a perfect risotto, and many other dishes, so it’s very important to prepare a good stock.
Unfortunately getting a good, deep flavored stock needs a lot of time (Up to Wikipedia it could take 8 hours to have a good meal stock) and a certain variety of fresh and high quality ingredients.
As traditional methods require stock to simmer gently for hours, I manage to reduce cooking time using a pressure cooker.
There are two mail kinds of stock that we use in Italian cooking: vegetable stock and meat stock. Poultry and chicken stock, as well as fish stock are not commonly used.
To save time and taste, prepare stocks using a pressure cooker. It will shorten cooking time, and all the flavors will remain inside the pan.
To prepare 2 pints of vegetable stock, you will need a large onion, a garlic clove, 2 carrots, a celery stalk without leaves, 1 medium tomato, 1 medium potato, 2 bay leaves, some rosemary and sage, 1 teaspoon of sea salt. All the ingredients have to be washed and cleaned. Put the ingredients in the pressure cooker, add 2 pints of water and let cook under pressure for 40’. For best results, let the pressure cooker release pressure with the natural method, turning off the heat and waiting until the pressure cooker has cooled naturally, and all the pressure has been released. Vegetable stock is indicated for any kind of risotto.
To prepare a good meat stock, get 2 lbs of stewing veal or beef meat, 1 onion, 1 celery stalk without leaves, 1 carrot, 1 potato, 1 tomato, 2 bay leaves, a few of rosemary and thyme, some sage leaves, 1 teaspoon of sea salt. Put all the ingredients in a pressure cooker with 2 liters of water and let cook under pressure for 45-50 minutes. Let the pressure cooker cool naturally and adjust with salt. Meat stock is perfect for tortellini and cappelletti.
While preparing stock, it’s better to start with cold water in order to extract the maximum flavor from the ingredients.
If you can prepare some extra stock, you can freeze it into small jars, and preserve your extra stock for any other occasion.
The best way to degrease your stock is chilling it into the refrigerator for some hours. As grease solidifies when chilled, you can remove the grease with a spoon very easily.
If you want to add some extra flavor ¼ cup of red wine can be added to the pan after cooking.
Another way to add extra flavor is adding 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in the pan an let the chopped veggies sauté for a while before adding water.
If using meat bones, bake the bones in preheated oven to 220°C for 30 minutes or until gently browned. Then pour into the water together with all the other ingredients and cook under pressure.
If you manage to find some neck bones or knee bones it will be great.