This post is going to be a short one. I’m also sure that any of you who actually read this, may roll your eyes. I believe however, that this is important; this is also something that no one seems to talk about in blogs or food media in general. Maybe I’m wrong but I don’t see many people out there that take the time to think about stock. In culinary school there is an entire class dedicated to stock and it is one of the most basic elements of cooking. Is it difficult? No. Is it rewarding? Yes. Will it make that much of a difference in your cooking both professionally and at home? Yes. It will.
Auguste Escoffier, who was the father of modern professional kitchens, had this to say about stock: “Indeed, stock is everything in cooking. Without it, nothing can be done. If one’s stock is good, what remains of the work is easy; if, on the other hand, it is bad or merely mediocre, it is quite hopeless to expect anything approaching a satisfactory meal.”
I think that says is all. Escoffier created a unified recipe and definition for stock and held it high as one of the most important tools of cookery. So should you.
Now, I will be the first to admit, I don’t always use home-made stock. It takes me quite a while to procure enough bones/ect. to really make anything but veggie stock. I always keep some store bought stock (although good brands) for things that come up. Come on…we all do it. But, I really try when the opportunity arises to make stock when possible . Especially for soup, then you can REALLY tell. If you haven’t had chicken soup made with proper stock, you’ve missed on one of the great joys of life.
Stock is also the base for most mother sauces. Have some chicken stock lying around? Add some white roux and creme and you have Veloute, a classic french sauce. Brown or beef stock you say? Add carrots, onions, celery, tomato paste, and some herbs; Boom. Espagnole Sauce. Add it to risotto, place in a pan sauce for that next steak, replace water for stock in Quinoa (much better), put it in rice or reduce it down into demi-glace. The possibilities are literally endless culinarily speaking.
I’ve had the luck of having a Pekin Duck around lately for another post on this site (Coming Soon!). After I had broken the meat I had quite a bit of bone, neck, and wings lying around, you know where this is going…..
In my heaviest pot I added:
1 duck carcass broken down into smaller pieces
1 duck neck
2 duck wings
1 large carrot pealed and roughly chopped
1 large onion roughly chopped
2 celery stalks roughly chopped
1/2 head of garlic (No need to peal it)
A few springs of Thyme and Oregano (Preferably from the garden)
Teaspoon of black pepper
For something extra, I threw a teaspoon of Lavender seed that I had lying around
Add all of this to the pot, THEN fill it with good, cool water. Then put the boots to your stovetop (High) until it reaches a boil. When it reaches a boil, turn the heat down to low until the pot is at a bare simmer. Then leave for the next 12 hours.
Yep thats right. 12 hours. Its worth it, trust me.
You want low heat to extract all the collegen out of the bones from the Duck. To develop all those awesome flavors, you need time and low heat (just like BBQ).
You may see some “stuff” float to the top during the cooking process. Its just fat and stuff from the meat/veggies, so don’t worry.
Thats it. Your done. Strain all the solids off from the stock and cool it down in the fridge. Once its cool, the fat will rise to the top and solidify. Just scoop is off with a spoon and keep until you need it (about a month, but who’s counting?). After the fat is removed, you may notice that the stock is a bit gelatinous, thats ok. Thats not fat, its collagen, which is what you want for it to be delicious. The exception is veggie stock, you won’t see this with veggies only.
So you’ve done it. You’ve made stock from scratch and can now impress your friends and family with your culinary super powers. Its delicious, its nutritious, its easy. Now go forth and use this new found skill to all its potential
Fly far my friends, fly far.
P.S. Below are recipes for Veloute and Espagnole, for those who are curious:
- Gather the ingredients and equipment.
- Make blond roux.
- Set aside to cool. Heat white stock.
- Temper roux into hot white stock if roux is cold.
- Simmer sauce 20 minutes or until starchy taste is gone.
- Strain through chinois mousseline.
- Season with salt and white pepper.
- Gather all the ingredients and equipment.
- Render, and brown the bacon in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add the vegetables, sauté until translucent.
- Add the tomato paste and pince (caramelize).
- Add the stock to the vegetable mixture, bring to a strong simmer.
- Temper in brown roux and add the bouquet garni.
- Bring mixture to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook for about 2 hours. Dépouillage frequently and strain when finished.