You can make a delicious, full-flavored stock from the leftover bits of hard cheese and pieces of natural rinds found in the cheese corner of your refrigerator. Mushroom and the cheeses give this stock a deep, earthy flavor. We make this often, as it’s a wonderful starting point for soups and sauces.
You can add leftover cheese bits to any other stock also, but if you try this recipe, you might be surprised how well this stock compares with chicken or beef stock. Save your cheese rinds and bits in the fridge until you have about 1 cup's worth. Before starting the stock, clean the cheeses by slicing off any unknown molds. Parmesan and cheddar rinds taste wonderful in this stock, but any natural rind that is not too crumbly can work well. —Sue Conley & Peggy Smith
coarsely chopped carrots
coarsely chopped celery
dried mushroom, such as porcini or shiitake
fresh flat-leaf parsley
(or so) leftover bits of hard cheese and natural rind
In a large pot, bring the water to a simmer over medium-high heat.
While the water heats, in another large pot, melt the butter over medium heat. When it’s melted, add the onions, carrots, celery, mushrooms, bay leaves, thyme, and parsley. Cook until the onions are translucent and the carrots, celery, and mushrooms are soft, about 8 minutes. With a wooden spoon, stir in the cheese bits. Let the cheese and vegetables sit on the bottom of the pot for short periods of time, no longer than 10 seconds; this will allow the vegetables and the cheese to brown the bottom of the pot a little. (You don’t want all the vegetables browned, but just the bottom surface needs a little color.) Stir often.
When the vegetables and cheese at the very bottom of the pot show some brown and the cheese is beginning to melt, slowly introduce the simmering water to the pot, stirring in just 1 cup/240 ml to start. Stirring constantly, deglaze the pan’s bottom with the hot water to loosen any browned bits. When the pot bottom is clean of any brown, pour in the remainder of the water. Decrease the heat to medium-low and monitor the heat, adjusting the flame so the broth stays at a gentle simmer.
Simmer for 40 to 50 minutes, stirring every 3 to 5 minutes, so the broth doesn’t pick up a scorched flavor. Strain the broth into a very large container or another clean pot and allow it to cool. Once it’s cool, you can easily skim the top of any fats. Store this in your refrigerator for up to 3 days or in your freezer for up to 3 months.
Cowgirl Creamery launched in 1997, but our story began well before then. We met freshman year at the University of Tennessee where, little did we know, a lifelong friendship and infatuation with food would ensue. In 1976 our journey westward began. Once arriving in the Bay Area, we became involved in the burgeoning food movement at Chez Panisse and Bette's Oceanview Diner, both in Berkeley, CA. By the early 1990s, we were ready for a new challenge when we decided to launch Tomales Bay Foods, a marketing vehicle to help West Marin's farms and dairies get their delicious products into the hands of the Bay Area's finest chefs. From there, we decided to make our own cheese using the milk from neighboring Straus Family Creamery. Two decades, two creameries, four retail stores, and two thousand tons of cheese later, we still love what we do and have decided to bring our stories and recipes (dishes that use cheese not how to make cheese) to you in our first cookbook, Cowgirl Creamery Cooks.