Ham Stock, Bonbons, and Pea Plants

Split pea and ham soup

This was supposed to be my “meat free dinner”.

I was just going to cheat a little bit and use the ham stock to cook the split peas – it totally would have counted! Of course that didn’t remotely work out – there was so much meat on the bone, and also some leftover ham…it would have been such a waste to throw that out! It really made the most delicious stock.

But then I went and ruined it by adding in the split peas. Yes – my ham and split pea soup was not as tasty as it looks! And I’ve been wanting so long to make it, it’s really a disappointment. I’m sure I didn’t cook it long enough – the peas had maybe an hour and a half in the stock, no pre-soaking either. They were not terribly soft. I also didn’t purée the soup, because of all the aforementioned meaty bits floating around (I didn’t really strain the stock, you see, just sort of fished out the larger bony bits…), and I don’t know about you, but puréed meat just seems a bit odd. But to be honest, I may purée some tomorrow now that it’s cooled. Who knows, maybe it will be just the thing 😁. I’m obviously not going to provide a recipe for the soup because…it just wasn’t that good! But read on to make the stock:

Split pea and ham soup

Swimming in a delicious golden broth

Ham Stock

– ham bones (such as from a glazed/baked ham, or a ham hock), preferably with some meat on it still

– 1 scant tsp oil (grapeseed, or leftover drippings would also be fine)

– 2 carrots

– 2 ribs of celery

– 1 onion

– 3 bay leaves

– 12 peppercorns

– parsley stems

You will need a large pot, preferably the largest one you have, so you can make a big batch and freeze it.

1. Heat up the oil over medium-high heat; chop up the carrots, celery and onions into chunks (no need for peeling, fancy cutting, etc) and add to the oil. My bones are always frozen when I make stock, so I usually add them to the pot now, to get some colour and to defrost.

2. Let everything cook down somewhat; no need to fuss around with stirring too much, let everything get a bit caramelized and brown.

3. After about 15 minutes, add in enough water to cover all of the bones; about 2-3 inches below the top of the pot would be good. Add in the bay leaves, peppercorns, and parsley stems.

4. Bring the pot to the boil, put the lid on, turn the heat down to low-medium, and let it simmer away for as long as you have time, but at least 2 hours. The longer it boils, the more flavour it will have. Check every half hour or so and give it a stir to make sure it is not boiling too vigorously or sticking.

5. Once you have decided the stock is ready, pull out the bones and let them cool while you strain the stock through a strainer or a sieve, pressing to extract as much liquid as possible. Check to make sure that no stray meat accidentally gets strained out.

6. Pick the meat off the bones and add back to the stock. The stock can either be used now, stashed in the fridge to use later this week, frozen in tupperware, or frozen in ice cube trays. If you are finding the stock is very fatty (you will see the fat particles slowly drifting to the top), put the stock in the fridge overnight and then skim off the hard layer of fat on the top the next day (sometimes a little meat fat is good in future soups/stews, though, keep in mind!). I find the frozen tupperware option usually the best; we’ve got all sorts of stock hanging out in the freezer, just waiting to help out the next braise or soup!

Caramel petit fourIn other news, I am still enjoying those chocolate caramel bonbons from 2 weeks ago (I stashed them in the back hallway, where everyone forgot about them…except meee!). So tasty. If anyone has any ideas for how to make the caramel less sticky, I am all ears! Or fingers, more accurately.

 

Pea plants

Pea plants everywhere

In other other news, I have decided to do some growing this summer. No, not of myself. We went to Seedy Saturday a few weeks ago and already I am living in a veritable sea of pea plants. Who knew the suckers grew so quickly? We’ve also got tomatoes, kale, lavender, echinacea, wildflowers, carrots, arugula, garlic, peppers, and herbs. The situation is rapidly spiralling out of control: we’ve had to replant once already, and it’s supposed to snow again next week. The roots are coming out of the bottoms of their peat pots, and I AM RUNNING OUT OF ROOM TO PUT THEM.

This little guy just wanted to give a wave

This little guy just wanted to give a wave

Stay delicious folks!

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