Stocks “The Foundation”

One man builds a house on sand, the other on stone. At first glance, the houses look the same, and, for a while, they will even be the same. We’ve all heard this story before. To make it short, the man who built his house on the most solid foundation is kicked back, sipping ginger ale while one is chasing after his house as it is sliding into the ocean.

We can apply this same lesson to Culinary Arts. Cooking is often a combination of techniques and ingredients. If the fundamentals are not solid, the end product will be garbage. It may look good, and even fool a few people, but those who have solid fundamentals will be kicked back, sipping ginger ale(and collecting six figures) while the lesser cooks are scrambling to make ends meat.

Stock is a flavorful liquid.

Most often, it is prepared by simmering bones, mirepoix, and other aromatics for a number of hours to impart the flavor of the animal that gave up its bones.

It is called stock because it is the foundation of many applications in the kitchen. From soups, sauces, and braises to poaching liquid, glazes, and emergency lifelines. Every kitchen and every cuisine uses stock in one form or another. I cringe to think about it, but the fact is that the majority of kitchens in America are using things like boullion cubes, powdered bases, commercially made broths, or even water. In order to have a superior end product, it is essential that you learn how to make a good stock.

The following are some key terms that will help you navigate the rest of this information:

Mirepoix – A mixture of 2 parts onion, 1 part carrot, and 1 part celery. It should be small dice unless otherwise speicified in a recipe. It is important to note that there are different variations. The white part of a leek can be substituted for the onion to change the flavor a little.

Culinary History Note: To Americans, this name may seem a little strange, but, often in French cooking history, dishes were named after the patron of the Chef who invented it. Charles Pierre Gaston François de Lévis, duc de Lévis-Mirepoix, maréchal de France and ambassador of Louis XV was the namesake of this classic staple. Imagine if we had not shortened it!

White mirepoix
– substitute parsnip or white carrot for the traditional carrots.

Holy trinity – used in Cajun/Creole Cuisine. Replace the carrot with green bell pepper.

Soffritto – The Italian version of mirepoix. Olive oil is heated and the vegetables are added and cooked until slightly browned. Garlic, bell pepper, lee, tomato, and ginger are all possible ingredients added to soffritto.
Don’t get it confused with sofrito

– (Mirepoix au gras) is what we like to call an edible mirepoix. Even though, technically, all mirepoix is edible, with the addition of some kind of pork product (bacon, pork belly, ham hock, ets) it is meant to be used as part of the presentation of the dish. It should always be cut brunoise or small dice unless otherwise specified.

Pincee – To saute or roast with tomato paste. Tomato paste is naturally a little bitter. By applying high heat to it, we can caramelize and sweeten it a little. Many home cooks will add sugar to a tomato sauce, but if you treat the tomatoes right by pinceeing, this step is really unnecessary and inferior.

Remouillage – To “re wet”. This is using the bones a second time to create a liquid that will either be reduced or as the liquied in place of water for the next stock

– To skim. Skimming is an essential process in stock making to ensure clarity.

Degrassier – Skimming or removing the fat that floats to the surface of the stock.

Consomme – A fortified stock or broth that has been clarified.

Albumin – A protein in animal blood and egg whites. It is important to us in stock making because it acts like a magnet, pulling out all of the impurtities and bringing them to the surface where we can depoulliage.

Collagen – A protein found in the connective tissue of animals. When heated above 200 degrees collagen rapidly hydrolyzes (dissolves in water). This results in the formation of a gelatin network that gives our stocks body. Bones of younger animals have a higher ratio of collagen.

Yes, your jello is essentially the product of ground up pig hooves and bones. Yummy!

While the basic method for making stock will be the same across the board, it is important to remember that bones from different animals need to be simmered for different periods of time and ingredients will change slightly from stock to stock depending on the application

Basic White Stock Recipe

8 lbs Animal Bones, Rinsed and Dried Thouroghly
1 lb Mirepoix
12 lbs COLD water
sachet d’epiece or bouquet garni

Place bones and mirepoix in a stock pot
Cover with cold water
Bring the liquid to a simmer slowly (simmer for 30 min-12hrs depending on the type of bones)
Depoulliage frequently during simmering
Add the sachet or bouquet garni during the last 30 min of cooking
Strain the stock through a fine mesh strainer
Cool the stock rapidly (70 degrees in two hours below 41 in less than four hours)
Store with a tightly fitting lid

Stock will last 5 days under refrigeration and several months in the freezer

Length of simmering for differnt types of bones

Beef or Veal 8-12 hours
Chicken 4-6 hours
Fish 45 min-1 hour
Vegetable 30-45 min

Now that we have a good basic recipe for stock, we can talk about the different kinds of stock that we use in a commercial kitchen.

White stock (Fond Blanc) is the most basic preparation. It is simply bones, water, mirepoix, and aromatics. This is the recipe above. Fish, Shellfish, Chickens, and rarely Veal will be prepared in this manner when a light color is an important factor. If you want your stock to be even lighter, substitute white mirepoix in the basic recipe.

Brown stock
(Fond Brun) is my main staple in the kitchen. It is produced by roasting the bones and mirepoix until they are well browned before adding the water. This develops very deep flavors and gives the stock an appealing, dark appearance. For brown beef and veal stock pincee with tomato paste after the bones have been roasted. Tomato product is an essential ingredient in beef and veal stock. Another step that you must consider is deglazing. You will want to deglaze your roasting pan with wine (white for poultry, red for beef) in order to not waste all that flavor that is in the bottom of the pan.

A fumet is a fish or shellfish stock that has some type of acid incorporated, either white wine or lemon juice.

Is a stock a broth?

No. They are very similar, but a broth generally has meat as well. For this reason, broths are generally more flavorful and nutrient dense.

If broths are more flavorful then why make a stock?

This all boils down to cost (pardon the pun). Meats are generally the most expensive ingredients in the restaurant, so if we indluded meat into our stocks, we would have to charge our customers a lot more money. There are dishes where broth is used, consomme for example, but we would just fortify our stock with some ground meat to impart the extra flavor that we are looking for.

Why is my veal stock so much thicker than my chicken stock when it comes out of the refrigerator?

Remember that gelatin is responsible for the viscosity change of the stock. Gelatin comes from collagen, and different animals have different ratios of collagen. A chicken stock will be less viscous than a beef stock, and a beef stock will be less viscous than a veal stock because younger animals have more collagen than older animals. You will also notice that a vegetable stock has almost no visible change in viscosity because there is no collagen in plants.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: