Monday, July 14, 2008

Pork Stock

When I decided to start cooking my way through The Zuni Cafe Cookbook, I wasn't looking for a project. I certainly have plenty to do. And I'm already a dedicated home cook. I cook all the time. But I was intrigued by how apparent Carol at French Laundry at Home and Julie of the Julie/Julia Project improved their culinary skills as they moved through the books they cooked their way through, The French Laundry Cookbook (Carol) and Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume 1 (Julie).

What I didn't know when I started, was how quickly it would happen. I'm only at the beginning, and I'm already looking at things in a very different way. I have developed what I call Zuni head. Zuni is with me in the market; it's with at the stove even when I'm not cooking a Zuni recipe; it's with me on the subway, where you can usually find me holding a copy of the book. Zuni is becoming part of me.

One of the reasons this is happening is because Judy Rodgers doesn't just give you recipes. She has delineated the principles she cooks by, the first of which is deciding what to cook:
The process of deciding what to cook should always begin with deciding where to shop and what to buy {or, if you are lucky, what to harvest}. Only then should you settle on the preparation, which should suit the qualities of those ingredients, as well as your experience, time frame, and equipment. I add a premium for choosing a dish that suits the weather. To assess and balance these things well is no mean accomplishment, and a good sense of what to buy and how to use it is not developed overnight. Such skills are, however a pleasure to acquire.
Judy Rodgers, The Zuni Cafe Cookbook, Page 30.
Rich Pork Stock

What I needed before I could make the next recipe I had my eye on was pork stock. At Zuni pork stock is made with a pig's head. However, for homemade pork stock I only needed half a pig's foot split since it has "a comparable combination of skin, cartilage, meat, and bone." Since you won't have the thrill of seeing a pig's head in this post, and I hate for you to feel deprived, go over to Carol's. Cool, right?

Back to me and my measly piece of a pig's foot. In addition to that I needed either some fresh pork shank or bone-in lean pork shoulder butt. (If you look at a diagram of a pig, you will see that pork shoulder and pork butt are the same.  Judy Rodgers calls it pork shoulder butt.)

Once again, I headed down to see Jeffrey, my butcher, because I knew he could help me with what I needed.  Jeffrey didn't have fresh pork shank, but he did have pork shoulder butt.
He also had the requisite pig's foot.
Notice the bones in the picture. Jeffrey sawed the bone he removed from the pork shoulder butt into three pieces so there would be more surface area,

I took this all home, and it was time for me to get to work.

The recipe for pork stock calls for chicken stock instead of water, which makes it a compound stock.
Compound stocks are meat and poultry stocks we make with meaty bones, scraps, and carcasses, browned and then moistened with our chicken stock or chicken stock plus water. Since it is flavorful and slightly gelatinous already, chicken stock gives these second-generation stocks a kick-start. They achieve lovely body in fewer hours, without overcooking the new flavors~beef, pork, lamb, rabbit, duck, squab, or other meats you might make into stock.
Judy Rodgers, The Zuni Cafe Cookbook, Page 55.

The tea cup is just a reference for the size of the onion.

I ended up with two cups of beautiful pork stock when I was done to use with Mock Porchetta, which is up next.

Thanks to Sylvano, who held my place in the book for me.

Amazon Links Are Affiliate


Ai Lu said...

Great posts on stock-making! We recently made a beef and veal stock from "The Silver Spoon," which had such an intense, meaty flavor that it seemed almost a pity to use it for risotto.
In what other ways do you feel that your cooking has changed from reading and using Zuni?

Anonymous said...

Hee hee 'Zuni head'? Officially your new nickname. I love the way you're laying out each and every step. Even if I never make from scratch pork stock, I can feel like I did. I'm really loving this.

I need a Sylvano to help me in the kitchen!

Anonymous said...

I cannot believe I still do not own the Zuni book, a situation I will remedy very soon. You are off to a great start is what will surely be a very enjoyable and informative blog. BTW, from what I could see, you have a very nice kitchen as well, I love the blue in there and the stove. As or shoulder butt, the 'butt' end is the one closer to the neck as opposed to the end closer to the arm. I think I saw Alton Brown explain the name 'butt' like that once.
Blog on.

BrassMan said...

Truly a silk purse piece of writing. Kudos to you for introducing "Zuni Head" into
American consciousness. "Zunivore"
is next. Great photographs. Can I rent your cat?

Anonymous said...

Both cuts, shoulder and butt, are the same, but the shoulder does have more skin on it...does it not? I'm curious now because our butcher has two cuts...shoulder and butt, but the shoulder seems to have more skin. .

We use both interchangeably but for grinding and smoking pulled pork, we will use the pork butt, primarily because the butt cuts that we get tend to have more fat. Fat is good. It would be interesting to try to smoke the shoulder cut and see if we get the same results. Thanks for the valuable information.

Great site so far! It is so fascinating and informative to see your whole process and insight. Can't wait to see what you've got lined up next! We're hooked.

Anonymous said...

I've got 4 lbs of pork neck bones and 32 oz. of turkey broth and I'm going to follow your steps. Wish me luck. Great blog post. Thanks.