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Food Prep 101: The art of making stocks, sauces
April 30, 2013 - Anita Hanaburgh
We have finished an overview of cooking proteins and touched on quick breads, so now we will move on to stocks and sauces.
I’m not sure how I can fit making stocks into one column, but I’ve said that about nearly every topic so far.
A stock is a clear, thin liquid flavored by extracting soluble substances from meat, poultry, fish and their bones, simmered with vegetables and selected herbs/spices. Stock is made with bones. Broth is made with flesh. Stocks are never served alone but reduced and used for soups, sauces, stews, poaching liquids, casseroles, etc.
Some of you might remember a big old stock pot simmering on the back of the stove where the cook (perhaps Grandma) threw in any unwanted trimmings from the day of cooking. The flavor of the stock changed according to what got thrown into it.
There is, however, a more classic method to get more predictable results. A tasty stock is an essential base for a cook’s repertoire. Stocks are really easy, but they require several steps and some planning. For a good stock, it is best to understand the procedure and terms, and you can add spices or different veggies to make it your own.
White stock (fond blanc) is usually made with beef or veal bones that have been simmered.
Brown stock (fond) is made with beef bones that have been roasted with tomato paste.
Chicken stock (fond de volaille) uses chicken bones.
Fish stock (fumet) uses the bones of fish. Round fish is best and shellfish maybe used depending on the desired taste results. Let’s look at some key ingredients:
Bones are the primary ingredient. Bones should have the fat and flesh removed. The flesh can be saved for later use in a soup. With the bones, we want to extract the flavor in the cartilage and marrow.
Vegetables. All stocks should begin with a classic mirepoix, a combination of flavoring rough-cut vegetables named after the Duke of Mirepoix. The mix contains two parts chopped onion and one part celery and one part carrots. Other vegetables may be added as other flavors are desired. Liquid. Primarily water. The main process of stock making occurs because the flavors from the bones, vegetables and seasonings seep into the liquid by a process called osmosis.
Seasonings. Salt is not always used but may be added lightly to help extract flavor. Herbs and Spices are used carefully. Spices are tied in a cheesecloth sachet and can be added toward the beginning. Fresh herbs are tied together in a bouquet and added toward the end of the cooking process.
Task to Try
Today we will look at the procedure for making a white common stock.
1. Prepare the bones in pieces no larger than 3 to 4 inches. The more surface area, the easier is will be to extract the marrow flavor.
2. To remove impurities, rinse the bones in cold water or blanch the bones by placing them in cold water in a pot and then bringing them to a boil. Remove the scum on the top. Drain and rinse well. I always blanch to get a clear stock.
3. Place bones in a stock pot and add cold water to cover. Add more as needed to keep the bones covered. Bring water to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Keep the stock at a simmer. Boiling will break up the protein and cloud the stock.
4. Skim the stock as needed through the process.
5. Add the mirepoix when desired. The size of the cut will determine how long it is cooked and when it is added.
6. Add the spices. Spices can be added at the beginning, herbs toward the end.
7. Simmer the stock for six to eight hours for beef and veal bones, three to four hours for chicken or turkey bones and 30 to 45 minutes for fish bones. Longer cooking extracts more gelatins but can bitter up the flavor.
8. When finished, skim and drain through several layers of cheesecloth to remove the impurities. (Don’t pour it down the sink, as I had one student do!)?Place it on a rack in the sink surrounded by cold water and ice. Cool quickly to prevent bacteria growth. Only refrigerate when cool. 9. Degrease. We want a clear stock. The most common method is to refrigerate then remove the solidified top fat. The grease can also be skimmed during the cooking process.
It is often a surprise to new cooks that beef stock can be white (above) or brown. For preparing brown stock, the bones are not washed but placed in a roasting pan with the mirepoix and tomato paste in a hot oven, between 375 and 425 degrees, and browned for one hour. The bones and vegetables are placed in a pot, and the stock is made following the procedures for white stock. When making brown stock, it is important to deglaze the roasting pan. This is when the fond (the crusted browned juices) are reconstituted and added to the stock. Enjoy.
Answer to last week’s quiz: Eggs should never be A) boiled.
Learn more: A quiz for you… http://www.proprofs.com/quiz-school/story.php?title=on-cooking-stocks-sauces
This week’s quiz: Milk treated mechanically to break the fat into smaller globules and disperse them permanently is called: A) fortified, B) condensed, C) pasteurized, or D) homogenized.
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