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Beef stock

Bouillon ingredients Read a note about the flaws of Finnish stocks here.

Here is a recipe of my mother Irina for making clear meat stock, bouillon, that can be used as a base for numerous fine soups and sauces. To speed up the cooking process, it is best to cook the stock in a pressure cooker.

Although it might be tempting to add *that little bit of extra water*, thinking there would be even more of the flavourful stock as a result, resist this urge, as even a dash of excess water will yield a weak, watery stock and all your efforts have been in vain  —  you might just as well use a stock cube or fumet from a bottle...

500 - 700 g beef knuckle (shin) slices with bones (as small bones as possible)
2 - 3 marrowbone slices (beef)
green part of one small leek
2 small onions
2 - 3 medium carrots
100 - 150 g celery root
100 - 150 g rutabaga
100 - 150 g parsnip
1 - 1¾ l water
about 10 black peppercorns
about 20 allspice berries

Ingredients placed in a cooker Wash and peel or scrape the root vegetables clean. Peel the onions. Cut the vegetables in chunks and place on the bottom of the pressure cooker. Place the meat and the marrow bone slices snugly on top. Add the peppercorns and a dash of salt.

In picture on right: ingredients placed in a cooker.

Note: if you plan to reduce (boil down) the stock to be used as a base for making sauces etc, do not add any salt.

Add enough water to just cover the ingredients. Place the pressure cooker's lid on, fitted with the rubber gasket and valve, according to the instructions given in your cooker's manual. Place the cooker on a hot stove. As soon as the water inside the cooker starts to boil, reduce the heat and cook for one hour, adjusting heat whenever necessary.

Cooked bouillon After one hour, take the cooker off the heat and let it cool until ready to open. Strain the hot stock through a fine sieve. Take the meat apart and clean it, you can serve it later with the bouillon, if you like. Discard the mushy vegetables.

In picture on right: cooked bouillon.

To degrease the stock, pour it in a tall, narrow dish, cover with plastic and place in refrigerator to cool. After the stock has chilled, the fat in it will solidify, forming a white layer on the surface, which can be easily lifted off with a spoon. The degreased stock can be frozen in small plastic cups to be used later as a base for soups or white sauces.

Note: weak-tasting stocks and sauces (and, indeed, many other foods) are the worst flaws of Finnish cuisine. Perhaps as a remnant of the once poor diet where fresh ingredients were scarce, they are used very stingily even today, especially in stocks and soups, the weak flavour of which is then enriched and overpowered with all sorts of unnecessary supplements or excessive use of spices and thickening agents. Finns do not grasp the idea that the flavour of a dish is created mainly by its main ingredients, whether meat, seafood, vegetables or fruit, instead of spices and stock cubes.

Recipe source: family recipe.


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