Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth – Edith Sitwell

The onset of the cooler weather often signals a period of hibernation, and it’s the perfect opportunity to invest time in making your own soups, stocks and broths. Not only are they comforting and warming, but when made from scratch, they can also offer a range of nutritional benefits, with many people claiming improved gut and joint health.

Here at The Falls Retreat we take pride in making everything from scratch and believe that a good stock/broth is the foundation of making great meals and worth the time investment. The secret to a great stock is to roast the bones first to get some caramelised flavour going, and then to slowly simmer the bones in water for around 6 hours to 8 hours. Including some beef scraps or stew meat as well as aromatic vegetables and herbs also improves flavour. In The Falls kitchen, we actually save and utilise the trim from all cuts of meat, and save bones and vegetable off cuts, such as carrot tops, celery heads, fennel stalks and onion ends, to add to the mix, keeping in line with our ‘nose to tail’ ethos and minimal waste values.

Once you have a great homemade stock you can use it in a multitude of ways. In fact, stock is the base for many dishes, making it one of the most versatile ingredients around. You can use it to add richness to risottos, ragus, stews, gravies and, of course, home made soups. When thinking of hearty winter meals, the possibilities are endless, and you really will taste the difference!

4–5kg meaty beef bones (preferably with lots of marrow, such as oxtail, cannon bones, ribs or neck bones plus any beef scraps)
½kg chicken wings (used for extra flavour and gelatinous qualities)
2 x medium onions, peeled and quartered
2 x large carrots, diced into 1–2-inch segments
1 x large celery rib cut into 1-inch segments
2–3 cloves garlic, unpeeled
handful of parsley, stems and leaves
1–2 bay leaves
10 peppercorns
1 tbsp tomato paste

Preheat oven to 210°C. Place stock bones, stew meat or beef scraps, chicken wings, carrots and onions (or veg mix) in a large, shallow roasting pan. Roast in oven for about 45 minutes, turning the bones and meat pieces half-way through the cooking, until nicely browned. If bones begin to char at all during this cooking process, lower the heat. They should brown, not burn.

When the bones and meat are nicely browned, remove them and the vegetables and place them in a large stock pot (12–15L)

Place the roasting pan on the stove-top on low heat (this will cover 2 burners), pour half a cup of hot water over the pan and use a metal spatula to scrape up all of the browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pan and then pour the browned bits and water into the stock pot. It all adds flavour!

Add celery, garlic, parsley, bay leaves, peppercorns and tomato paste to the stock pot and fill with cold water to about 10cm over the top of the bones. Put the heat on high and bring the pot to a low simmer and then reduce the heat to low. Let the stock simmer low and slow for 6–8 hours.

TIP: Do not stir the stock while cooking as stirring will mix the fats in with the stock, clouding up the stock.

From time to time check on the stock and use a large metal spoon to scoop away the fat and any scum that rises to the surface.

At the end of cooking time, use a slotted spoon to gently remove the bones and vegetables from the pot and discard them. Line another large pot with a fine mesh sieve, covered with a couple of layers of muslin if you have it and pour the stock through the sieve to strain it of remaining solids.

Allow to cool to room temperature, then refrigerate. Once the stock has chilled, any fat remaining will have risen to the top and solidified. The fat forms a protective layer against bacteria while the stock is in the refrigerator but can be discarded once the stock is being used.

TIP: If freezing stock, remove and discard the fat and pour the stock into a container or pouch. Remember to leave about an inch head room from the top so that when the stock freezes and expands, it will not break the container.

The Falls Retreat have recently relaunched under a slightly different format—still passionate about food and warm hospitality, but no longer open for lunch and dinner every day. Instead, they have created special dining experiences. Think casual Friday nights with their Pizza Social, on Saturday nights their wonderful Paddock to Plate Dining Experience and a Sunday Feast for Sunday lunch which will be a two-course set menu showcasing their popular dishes with the opportunity for a self-guided tour of the amazing organic veggie gardens.

Cooking and gardening workshops will run on selected Saturdays, plus they offer options for group bookings and functions of 12 or more people every day.

So get in touch with Emma and the team!


Cooking Workshops

These are all day sessions running from 10am to 3pm and include morning tea on arrival, cooking demo with Brad, take home notes and ends with a delicious seasonal lunch at our shared dining table. Cash bar available. $150pp

Fish & Meat – Smoking, Curing & Brining – Saturday 3 July
Pickling, Preserving & Fermenting – Saturday 24 July
Pasta from Scratch Masterclass – Saturday 7 August
Sourdough Bread Making – Saturday 4 September

Gardening Workshops
From 9.30am to 3pm, includes morning tea, lunch and take home notes – $135
Saturday 12 June / Saturday 3 July / Sat 7 August / Sat 4 September

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