Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Ham Stock

title
If I could have just one stock in my freezer it would be ham stock. In the face of storm, famine, emergency in-law dinners, or a surprise horde of hungry soccer-buddies, this is the stuff I would like to call on to make magic with plain pantry staples.

What you see in this photo is all you really need. Old ham bones + onions + bay leaf + black pepper. And water of course. You can add other aromatics, but really, if you’ve got good ham you will not need much. Chuck everything into a big pot and you will turn out a stock that will knock your socks off…along with the socks of every dish you add it to. Ham stock is earthy, intense, full-bodied. Unlike chicken (or beef or fish or vegetable) stock, you get this amazing layering of flavors – you taste the pork that it once was, and the ham it eventually matured into…and everything else in between, as it waited for that day when chemistry and nature would push its flavor to the peak it was meant to reach (much like wine and cheese).

I started making ham stock when my mother taught me to cook fabada, a Spanish bean stew sort of dish with chunks of pork and chorizo (I feel this dish is open to a lot of interpretation…which is a good thing). The basis of her recipe was her stock, which is made with Jamon Serrano bones. This stock added an incredible depth of toe-curling flavor to the fabada. And I realized it could rightfully do so for many other dishes.

Ham Stock
  • 800 grams ham bones (I use either all Jamon Serrano bones, or a mix of Jamon Serrano and Majestic ham (a wet-cured ham) bones)
  • 2 white onions, peeled and cut in quarters
  • 5 dried bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 4 1/2 liters water (this will depend on the ham bones you use…a saltier dry-cured ham may need more water, while a milder wet-cured ham might need less)

- Place everything in a stockpot over medium-high heat until it reaches a boil.
- When boiling, remove scum that settles on the surface and lower heat.
- Let simmer for 2 – 2.5 hours, continually removing any scum that surfaces, until flavorful (let your taste be your guide). Cooking time will also depend on the saltiness of the ham you use.
- When done, set aside bones***, strain stock, and store.
- Yields about 10 cups stock.

In this recipe I use a mixture of bones, as can you, depending on availability and cost. As you can imagine, Jamon Serrano bones are a bit pricier than a regular supermarket ham bone, but well worth it for the flavor you get. Also, the deli where I get it does not always have bones ready for me to purchase. What I do then is use a mix of Jamon Serrano bones and Majestic Ham bones (a local wet-cured ham which is also smoked). You can also substitute other ham bones but I find dry-cured to have more flavor so try to toss in a least some of that. You can learn more about the difference between dry-cured and wet-cured here.

If you have a favorite Spanish restaurant or deli that sells Jamon Serrano or Iberico, go to them now and charm them for their bones! It takes a lot of ham to get to the bone so reserve your’s now! While you’re at it, ask them for any odd bits of the ham (like the ends) that they can sell to you along with the bone. Put these in with the bones when you make you stock. You won’t regret it :)

***If you used Jamon Serrano bones for your stock, don’t toss them out when you’re done! It will still have its heady aroma. Pick all the bits of ham meat off the bones – be patient, it will all be worth it. If you used any odd ham chunks (like the ends/edges/whatever your deli guy tossed in with the bones), shred them and add to your pile of ham bits. Stick all the bits in a Ziploc bag and place in the freezer. Any time you want to add a little oomph to a dish just take the bag out, bang it against the counter, take bunch of frozen ham shards, thaw, and add to just about anything that you think will benefit from a robust ham aroma. When I make fabada, they go in the mix as well. You can add them to soups, stews, and even sautéed vegetables as I did with cabbage.

Whew! Such hoopla about ham stock…it must be the book I’m reading. If you like ham, or pork in general, check it out :)

Stayed tuned for what I made with this…and no, it wasn’t fabada!

back to school

One last thing: I have been awarded the Blogging Community Involvement Award by Jaden of Jaden's Steamy Kitchen! To be awarded with anything from Jaden is an honor! She is fabulous and a visit to her Steamy Kitchen will always leave you with a smile on your face...if not in stitches laughing! I know these bloggers have probably been awarded already but hey, they double deserve it, so I'm awarding this to: Brilynn of Jumbo Empanadas, Tanna of My Kitchen in Half Cups, Susan of Food Blogga, Paz of The Cooking Adventures of Chef Paz, and Meeta of What's For Lunch, Honey? :) (No pressures to pass this along...just wanted let you guys know that your involvement is appreciated!)

28 comments:

veron said...

I've never heard of ham stock before but I believe you, because anything I add ham or bacon to simply tastes better!Can't wait to see what you will do with it!

christine said...

Jamon serrano rocks, and so does stock made with it's bone! Congrats on the award, well-deserved as always! ;) And I agree, Jaden is fabulous.

Lorraine said...

I'd never heard of ham stock either- but thank you for posting this! We've been making our own chicken and beef stock recently (those cans really add up...)- and I'm excited to try this out.

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

(low bow) Thank You very kindly Joey. I am ever so glad to have found this most incredible place and fabulous bloggers like you who populate it. I'm delighted that Jaden tagged you with this!!
Stock is incredible stuff isn't it. I always have a hard time getting to it and then when I do I'm surprised and pleased all over again like I'd never done it before!

katiez said...

Ham stock made with Jamon Iberico... I think I'm in heaven! I never thought to use dry-cured ham for stock (slaps head in amazement) but your right, the flavor must be incredible. I'm going to go sweet talk a butcher tomorrow!

Marvin said...

I've heard of ham stock, but haven't heard of the book Pig Perfect. It looks like a good read.

Maryann said...

I'm with you about the flavors of ham stock. I like it as a start to my pea soup. Thanks for the reminder. Will be needing this soon as the season changes :)

Andy said...

I have never made ham stock with serrano ham but it must be amazing! I normally just use a good smoked ham from our little country meat market. Looking forward to great soups in fall!

ChichaJo said...

Hi Veron! It really infuses soups and stews with amazing flavor :)

Hi Nens! Thank you! And yes, I agree...Jamon serrano rocks :)

Hi Lorraine! It's a whole different flavor...great for soups and stews :)

Hi Tanna! You so deserve it! You have reached out to so many people through blogging :) "I always have a hard time getting to it and then when I do I'm surprised and pleased all over again like I'd never done it before!" --> I SO know what you mean! :)

Hi Katiez! It is icredible! When it comes to flavor, dry cured ham bones just keep on giving :) Good luck with your butcher!

Hi Marvin! I'm really enjoying the book...I pull my head out of it at odd moments saying, "This is so inspiring!", and people just look at me like I'm from another planet!

Hi Maryann! I can imagine how delicious it would be with pea soup...thanks for the idea! :)

Hi Andy! The serrano ham's strong flavor really infuses the stock with goodness :) I'm other dry-cured ham would do good as well. I also add some smoked ham bones...I'm sure your market's ham is yummy! Sigh...I wish we had a fall!

Rasa Malaysia said...

I heard the secret to a lot of Chinese soup dishes (especially by Cantonese/Hong Kong chefs) are yam stock...I have never attempted making it at home though. :P

Marketman said...

Joey, NOW I know why it is getting harder and harder to buy bones from my Majestic ham sukis!!! :) I usually try to stock bones from 3-4 hams in the freezer at any one time so that I can quickly make a ham stock... oh, and P.S., I found the bottle source you were looking for, email me for details...

Kelly-Jane said...

Ham stock is lovely, mmm, and Autumn is coming soups on!

aria said...

mmmm. i can only imagine how delicios! i'm always impressed with homade stocks, its such a labor of love :)

Chris said...

Well written blog and your pictures are just fantastic! Love it!

Regards from Dubai,
Chris

Patricia Scarpin said...

I have never heard of ham stock, Joey - that would be wonderful in a risotto!

Amanda at Little Foodies said...

Ah Joey, you're so right!
When I was growing up we used to have ham and pea soup, it was made with dried split peas and the ham bone. This was before I'd ever encountered jamon serrano of course.

My in-laws sometimes buy us a whole jamon serrano (sadly not pata negra) for Christmas when they're coming over from Spain. It lasts us for months and when it's all drying out we hack bits off and make things like fabada. We've cut the bones up and put them in while cooking but have never made a stock to keep as such. What an excellent idea and I could just taste it reading your words. Thank you

ChichaJo said...

Hi Bee! I didn't know that about Chinese soups using ham stock...thanks for passing that tidbit along...now the wheels in my head are turning :)

Hi MM! Heehee :) I don't think I wiped out the supply (I mean we're not talking Nutella here, hehe)! ;) And I only get them when I can't get any serrano bones -- you must try thess...amazing stock and soups! Thank so much for bottle heads up...will email you! :)

Hi Kelly-jane! Wish we had autumn here...oh well, can't let a silly thing like "not having an autumn season" stop me from making autumnal soups! ;)

Hi Aria! Thanks :) It is a bit of a "labor of love" now that you mention it...but it really pays off when you want some good soup/stew and you've got these tucked away :)

Hi Chris! Thanks for stopping by and for leaving such a nice comment :)

Hi Patricia! This stock's really got body :) Mmmm, risotto! That sounds like a fantastic idea! :)

Hi Amanda! Lucky you to be gifted with a whole leg of serrano! And I can imagine how wonderful it is to go through it for months, savoring it and using it in different ways...yum! If you make some stock you will have something to remember it by when it's all gone :)

lobstersquad said...

mmmm, yes. lovely stock. I always make a mix, chicken stock with a few ham bones thrown in. best thing ever, and serrano is the only one we have, so of course they´re the ones to use here.

Belinda said...

You know, Joey, I've never made ham stock before, but after reading your inspiring post, I now feel like I must have it on hand. My grandmother used to make rice with some broth and juice from a baked ham around holiday times, but I for the life of me can't recall any details...I was a kid, and way more interested in eating and playing than in cooking in those days. I do remember that it was delicious though. Now I'm craving rice made with your ham stock! :-)

ChichaJo said...

Hi Ximena! Of course if you are in Spain you can get all the jamon serrano bones you want...lucky, luck duck! :) I'll try a mix next time...sounds like a great way to extend chicken stock too :) Thanks!

Hi Belinda! That rice you Grandma made sounds so good and comforting...was it soupy? Thick? Maybe I'll try it too :) I find this to be such a flavor-packed stock to have...

SteamyKitchen said...

I too haven't heard of ham stock, but I have always wondered what to do with my Honeybaked Ham bone.

Will try next time...prob Thanksgiving!

ChichaJo said...

Hi Jaden! Now you know what you can do with your ham bones :) And you can enjoy you now-gone ham's essence for days to come :)

Brilynn said...

Thanks very much for the award! Much appreciated!

ChichaJo said...

You're welcome Brilynn! You deserve it :)

Renieri said...

If you like ham you are free to freeze it but before to freeze it taste it and eati a little as fresch ham si quite better before freezing it...

Hatta said...

So, once you have the ham stock, what do you do with it?

ChichaJo said...

Hi Hatta...if you do a search of "ham stock" on my blog you will see some dishes where I use it :)

Ernest said...

Hatta, you can use ham stock to make bean with bacon soup