" … nectar only fully appreciable by gods."

The Muse and I must own almost a dozen stock pots. These range from huge to mid-sized, and we regularly, as in weekly, use about half of them. We employ them for more than making stock, but we make a lot of stock. Every blessed bit of veg trim goes into an ever-burgeoning baggy in the freezer. Same with meat trim, leftover bones, and even over-ripe fruit. About a quarter of the kitchen freezer always seems filled with bits awaiting transformation in a stock pot. It doesn't ever take much material: a chicken carcass or two, a couple of quarts of veg bits, a few herbs and spices, water, heat, and time, and I'm making stock again. I might make up a small batch just for a single dish, but I most often roast up larger batches for pressure canning and longer-term use. Replacing stock when a recipe calls for water dramatically improves the resulting dish. We're stock people.

I could not seem to learn how to make delicate stock like consumme, and not only because delicate dishes do not please my palate.
I do not worry about skimming off foam, like the cookbooks recommend, to avoid off-flavors. I live for off flavors! I produce rough stock, unskimmed, often unfiltered. simply strained. Those crude leftover bits add flavor, and clarity almost never matters in a finished dish. I used to simply simmer the stuff, but have lately turned to roasting it. I bring the pot to a starting boil on the stovetop, then slip it into a three hundred degree oven overnight, twelve to eighteen hours, before straining off the bones and spent veg. The resulting stock seems much richer than stove-top stock, and demands almost no attention in production. It also makes the house smell wonderful overnight. The magpies will pick over the strained-out solids and carry away the meat and bones if I leave the strainer on the deck to cool its contents. Little clean-up's required.

Recently, I stumbled upon the barest mention of another stock-making technique, one I'd never imagined before: double stock. Double stock is just what it sounds like. It's not a double batch or a doubly long-simmered batch, but two separate stock-makings combined to produce a single, doubly deep result. Once that first making's done and the dregs drained off, refill that stock pot with fresh veg and a fresh load of bones and trimmings, reheat to a starting boil, then set the mess into that slow oven for another twelve to eighteen hour ride. Once drained, this second result carries deeper color and richer flavor than could any one-pass stock. One might even strain it through a kitchen towel to produce a semblance of a clear stock, though it will likely be almost opaque with double-roasted richness. If veal marrow bones or chicken feet fell into the stock pot, the collagen might leave the finished product jelling at room temperature. Only a rubber spatula can coax it out of its jar and into that braising pan.

I made some rabbit/chicken feet double stock last month to use as a risotto base. Last night, I roasted off a chicken/pheasant stock into turkey carcass stock to produce a double stock whose color astounds me. I'll ladle this mess into pint jars and pressure cook those for an hour or so and restock the larder with the result. Thanksgiving left over a turkey carcass and the butcher was selling off turkey wings and necks for next to nothing yesterday, so I roasted those wings and the neck then turned them into our next-to-largest stock pot for a savoring overnight roast. The volume reduced by maybe a quarter overnight and once I'd strained off bones and bits, I still had half the huge pot filled with my fresh shimmering double stock.

If stock is good, double stock just has to be at least twice as good, though I'm thinking that it might be misnamed as DoubleStock. Think of it instead as SquaredStock, not just doubled, but raised to the power of two, for the improvement seems more multidimensional than a simple linear doubling. Depth increases, and so does density. The result seems revelatory to me, a distinctly different beast than that produced by just one time through. I suppose that triple stock could be possible, even quadruple or quintuple, but the result might carry more dimensions than one palate could ever properly appreciate, like an N-dimensional formula we only ever have four flat dimensions with which to describe. I expect that the excess would be lost to mere human experience, nectar only fully appreciable by gods.

©2019 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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