How much difference does a carrot make to stock? Seriously, do you know? I mean is it the cornerstone of good solid broth? Just how much does this orange root contribute to overall flavour? Is the slow release of carotene and vitamin A essential to the mix? Will I go blind without it? And what about my ham hock? What will happen to this lovely smoked lump of piggy if I don't subject it to a subtle bathing of sludgy carroty sweetness? What will act as a defence against the harsh, unrelenting nature of sulfurous onion? And why don't we have any carrots anyway? I mean c'mon, who ate all the frigging carrots?
"MWAHAHAHAHAHA! You foolish soul. For millenia have I waited for some craven idiot to unwittingly unlock the portal from my world to yours. Did you not know the power of the carrot? Did you not know the protection it affords you weak, pitiful human beings?! MWAHAHAHAHAHA!"
|All in the pot, sans carrot|
1 Smoked Ham Hock
1 large onion, quartered
2 celery sticks, roughly chopped
2 carrots (if you have them), roughly chopped
Couple of sprigs of thyme
400 ml of full fat milk
1 bay leaf
Small bunch of parsley stalks
4 or 5 cloves
Pinch of mace
50 grams of butter
50 grams of plain flour
Large bunch of parsley, finely chopped
First, prepare your hock the night before by soaking it in cold water, otherwise it will be rather salty. To cook, simply cover with cold water in a large stock pot and add the vegetables, thyme and peppercorn. Place on the hob and bring to the boil, then gently simmer for a couple of hours, spooning off any scum that rises to the surface. Once cooked, take out of the stock and leave to rest under some foil. SAVE THE STOCK THOUGH! For soups, soups and more soups.
To make the parsley sauce, put all the ingredients bar the butter and flour into a saucepan and place on the hob. Bring gently to the boil and then take off, leaving everything to infuse and cool for 30 minutes or so. Then strain the milk through a sieve into a jug. Take a clean saucepan and place over a medium heat. Make a roux by adding the butter and let it melt until it begins to foam, then add the flour. Stir in with a whisk for a minute or so, until it turns a nice biscuit colour. Slowly add the flavoured milk (which should still be warm), whisking all the way over the heat until it thickens to the consistency of runny custard. Take off the heat and keep warm.
Slice up your ham hock and serve on heated plates with your chosen accompaniments* Place your sauce back on the heat for one quick blast and then dump your chopped parsley in at the very last minute (overcooked parsley soon turns grey). Ladle a healthy amount over the ham and enjoy.
|Ham and carrots, back together again|