Would you like a taste of the forest floor in your soup? Neither would I. For whatever reason, the Practical Cook has never loved some of the more high-flying descriptions of the flavor of mushrooms, even though she adores the mushrooms themselves. Mushroom stock is full of umami, complex and interesting, and this version is made from scraps.
How to Make Mushroom Stock
Step 1. When you use mushrooms (and I do a lot of that), break off the woody stems, put them in the freezer, and stockpile until you amass a quantity. (If you are in a hurry, or a low-volume user, feel free to buy some supplemental button mushrooms.)
Variety is not important here, button mushrooms, creminis, whatever you have will work.
Step 2. Once you’ve collected a fairly good amount (I’ve seen 2 pounds as the suggested amount, I used around 8 to 10 cups of stems), take a large stockpot, heat a small amount of olive oil over medium-high heat, and brown the stems a bit (throw them in frozen, it’s all good), adding 1 peeled carrot that’s been sliced in 1-inch pieces.
Step 3. Add 14 to 16 cups of water, or enough to cover the stems and pieces by at least an inch. (You’re going to reduce the liquid by nearly half, so don’t be stingy.) For a flavor boost, add a small package of dried porcini mushrooms. Bring to a boil, skim any scum, reduce heat to medium and simmer until reduced, at least 30 minutes, longer if you have the time and want more concentration.
Step 4. Strain the stock through a sieve, pressing the solids to extract maximum fungal flavor. Cool and separate into a few sizes of containers for freezer storage: The Practical Cook recommends 2-, 4-, and 1/2- cup measures.
5 Ways to Use Mushroom Stock
- Add 1 cup per jar of red pasta sauce (in this case, it was tomato basil). Wow, seriously wow. The stock balanced out the sweetness of the jarred sauce, and turned the Punt! that was cheese tortellini into awesome.
- Substitute into any beef-broth based soup.
- Heat and pour over cooked tortellini or potstickers for quick soup. Top with nicely sliced scallions and you’ve gone white tablecloth.
- Pan-sear a steak (or a portobella) deglaze with mushroom stock for a quick pan sauce.
For my mushroom-hating friends who may be reading this, yes, I’m likely to slip some of this into your food. You are welcome in advance.
Coming up tomorrow, Can this supper be saved? The Whole Wheat Waffles are being tested, and the batter is too thick. What to do? Tune in to find out.
If you’ve got a kitchen problem, question, or success story, send it to practical cook at gmail dot com.