Stock is a liquid containing some of the soluble nutrients and flavours of food which are extracted by prolonged and gentle simmering (with the exception of fish stock, which requires only 20 minutes). Such liquid is the foundation of soup’s sauces and gravies. Stocks are the foundation of many important kitchen prep therefore greatest possible care should be taken in their production.
A stock is a flavorful liquid prepared by simmering meaty bones from meat and poultry, seafood, or and vegetables in water with aromatics until their flavor, aroma, colour, body, and nutritive value is extracted. The liquid is then used for the preparation of soup, sauce, stew, and as braising and simmering cooking medium for vegetables and grains.
The word “fond” comes from the word “foundation”. Just as a foundation is a base for a house, fond is the base for much of cooking. Almost every culinary preparation requires a fond. For all practical purposes, “stock” and “fond” have the same meaning.
Types of Stock
There are four basic kinds of stock/fond:
- White stock (Fond Blanc)
- Brown stock (Fond Brun)
- Vegetable or neutral stock (Fond Maigre)
- Fish Stock (Fume de Poisson).
Note: The classifications refer to the contents and method used to prepare the stock, not necessarily to color.
White stock: is made with white meat or beef, veal bones, chicken carcasses, and aromatic vegetables. The bones or meat are put in cold liquid and slowly brought to a simmer. The mirepoix (a flavoring base of diced vegetables is sweated in suitable fat and then added to the liquid before it develops any color. The mixture is reduced to a simmer to finish cooking. This stock is used for white sauce, blanquettes, fricassee, and poached dishes.
Brown stock: is made with beef, veal, and poultry meat and bones. The bones are roasted until golden in color, not burnt. (Burnt bones and mirepoix will damage the stock’s flavor and color). The mirepoix is added when the bones are three-quarters roasted; tomato product may also be added. When the bones and mirepoix are golden in color, cold liquid is added and the mixture is slowly brought to a boil, then reduced to a simmer to finish cooking. This stock is used for brown sauces and gravies, braised dishes, and meat glazes.
Vegetable stock: is a neutral stock composed of vegetables and aromatic herbs sauteed gently in butter, then cooked in liquid. This relatively new type of stock is gaining in popularity.
Fish stock (Fume de Poisson): is categorized separately from the other basic stocks because of its limited usage. The basis of fish preparation is the fumet or fond. It has been said that all fish that produce a fumet are equal. Some fish produce better quality stock than others. The result from some fish are stocks that are too gelatinous and fishy tasting. Fish that are oily yield stock that has a bitter taste or that is milky.
Classical preparation calls for the bones of specific fish for fumet. Dover sole, turbot, brill, and whiting are recommended for their superior flavour. However, the important thing is that the fish is fresh and that its flesh is white.
A few guidelines are listed below.
- Do not use trimmings from oily fish, such as salmon, mackerel, bluefish, etc.
- Flounder or lemon sole will work for sole fumet. Halibut for turbot and striped bass for brill.
- The freshest local whitefish by any name is what you want.
- Sometimes the complementary juices of oyster, mussel, or clam are added to fish fumet. This liquid should not be reduced. It is used as an additive only.
Stocks appear to be a simple item to prepare. Although the ingredients are simple and the cooking method simplistic, you must use great care. This is a base from which you will create a wide variety of other dishes, so the stock must be right. As with any other preparation, you should start with quality ingredients.
Composition of Stock:
- Selected bones and trimmings.
- Mirepoix of vegetables.
- Bouquet Garni.
- Mushrooms and tomato trimmings(optional).
- Moisture / Water.
The four principal steps in producing a quality stock are:
- Start with cold liquid
- Allow natural clarification to occur
- Skim carefully
- Simmer, do not boil
Beginning with a cold liquid prevents the sealing of the items. This makes it possible to release the flavors of the meat, bones, poultry, etc. into the liquid surrounding them. This interchange occurs whether the bones and vegetables are browned or not.
However, when they have browned a richness of flavor and color is added that is not achieved otherwise.
A high-quality stock has a clear, clean appearance. This requires that it be clarified. Pouring the cooked stock through a fine sieve is not the kind of clarification that we mean here. Clarification is the removal of the many minute particles that form in the cooking process.
Albumin is a complex protein found in muscles, blood, milk, egg white, and many vegetable tissues. It is soluble only in cold water. Albumin is valued for its property of clarification by coagulation (forming a mass) when exposed to heat. The slower the application of heat, the better the removal of cloudiness from the liquid. Bringing stock slowly to a boil gives the albumin time to pass into the solution. As its proteins coagulate, they attract particles in the liquid. The action is similar to that of a magnet. However, as with magnets, when disturbed the albumin will drop the particles.
PREPARING WHITE STOCKS
A good white stock has rich, full flavor, good body, clarity, and little or no color. Chicken stocks may have a light yellow color.
- Cut the bones into 3 to 4 inch (8-10 cm) pieces
- Rinse the bones in cold water, (if desired, chicken, veal, or beef bones may be blanched)
- Place bones in a stockpot and cold water to cover
- Bring water to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, skim the scum that comes to the surface
- Add the chopped mirepoix and the herbs and spices
- Do not let the stock boil. Keep it at a low simmer
- Skim the surface as often as necessary during cooking
- Keep the water level above the bones, add more water if the stock reduces below this level.
Simmer for the recommended length of times:
Beef and veal bones 6 to 8 hours
Chicken bones 3-4 hours
Fishbones 20 minutes
Note: Most modern chefs do not simmer stocks as long as earlier generations of chefs did. It is true that longer cooking will extract more gelatin, but gelatin isn’t the only factor in good stock. Flavors begin to break down or degenerate after a period of time. The above times are felt to be the best for full flavor, while still getting a good portion of gelatin into the stock as well.
- Skim the surface and strain off the stock through a strainer
- Cool the stock as quickly as possible, as follows
PREPARATION OF BROWN STOCK
Browning Bones and Mirepoix Brown stocks are made by first browning bones and mirepoix and if required by the recipe, tomato paste or puree. This step starts the process of developing the stock’s flavor. Allow sufficient time for ingredients to roast properly for the best end product.
- Rinse the bones if necessary and dry them well to remove any excess moisture.
Taking the time to do this will shorten the time required to properly brown the bones. If bones go into the oven when they are wet or still frozen, they will steam before the browning process begins. No one can say for sure that there is a distinct and measurable loss of flavor, but certainly, it will increase the time the bones need to spend in the oven, as well as increasing the amount of energy required to cook them.
- Roast the bones until they are a rich brown color
The amount of time required will vary, depending on whether the bones had time to defrost and dry, how many bones are packed into the pan, and the heat of the oven.
For small quantities, it may be a good idea to heat some oil in a large rondeau over direct heat, and the bones and cook them on the top of the range. This is not recommended for large quantities, but it is a good way to quickly prepare smaller amounts.
- Add the mirepoix and tomato product to the pan.
Although some chefs feel that the best-quality stocks are achieved by first removing the bones and beginning the stock-making process, then browning the vegetables later on in the same roasting pan, others consider the time-saving technique of adding the mirepoix and tomato directly to the bones as they roast to be a fair tradeoff.
- Simmer the stock long enough to fully develop flavor, body, clarity, color, and aroma.
- Brown stock normally requires 6 to 8 hours of simmering time.
Brown Veal Stock
Veal bones, including knuckles and trim 3.6 kilograms
Oil, as needed 115 milliliters
Cold water or Remouillage 5.75 liters
Mirepoix 450 grams
Tomato Paste 180 milliliters
Bouquet garni 1 each
- Rinse the bones and dry them well.
- Cut the bones into 3 to 4 inches.
- Brown the mirepoix and tomato puree.
- Combine the bones and mirepoix, water.
- Bring the stock to a boil over low heat.
- Simmer for a total of about 6 to 8 hours, skimming. the surface as necessary.
- Strain the stock.
White Veal Stock
Veal bones 3.6 kilograms (cut into 3-inch lengths )
Cold water or Remouillage 5.75 liters
Mirepoix 450 grams
Bouquet garni 1 each
- Rinse the bones.
- Combine the bones and water.
- Bring the stock to a boil over low heat.
- Skim the surface, as necessary.
- Simmer the stock for a total of 6 hours.
- Add mirepoix and sachet d’epices (salt, if used) in the last hour of simmering.
- Strain the stock.
Fish bones 5 kilograms
Mirepoix 450 grams
Cold water 4.75 liters
Bouquet garni 1 each
White wine 750 ml
Mushroom trimmings 250 gm
- Prepare mirepoix.
- Blanch the fish bones
- In a stockpot add mirepoix, blanched fish bones, white wine, mushroom trimmings, bouquet garni.
- Simmer for 10 minutes and strain the stock
- Cover the stockpot with a lid.
Bones, reserved from preparing stock 3.6 kilograms
Cold water 5.75 liters
Mirepoix 450 grams
Bouquet Garni (Sachet d’ Epices) 1 each
- Combine all ingredients, and simmer for approximately 6 hours.
- Strain the stock.
A “short broth” is often prepared as the cooking liquid for fish or vegetables. The basic components of a court bouillon include aromatic vegetables and herbs, an acid such as vinegar, wine, or lemon juice, and water. A court bouillon may be prepared as part of the cooking process, or it may be prepared in large batches and used as required, in much the same manner as stocks.
Fish Stock 2.4 liters
Carrots, sliced 340 grams
Onions, sliced 450 grams
Thyme leaves, dried pinch
Bay leaves 3 each
Parsley stems 1 bunch
Peppercorns 15 grams
White wine 75 ml
Vinegar (or) Lemon juice
- Combine all ingredients and simmer for about 10 minutes.
Preparations From Stock
Broth and stock are similar in technique and cooking time. Meat, Fish, Poultry, Trimmings of vegetables can be roasted or seared are slowly simmered along with aromatic vegetables, spices, and herbs to produce a clear flavorful liquid with some body. The major distinction between Broth and Bouillon (Stock) is that Broth can be served as is, whereas Bouillon is used in the production of other dishes.
Meat glace is the reduced stock containing higher percentages of gelatin. Meat glace takes eight to twelve hours. It can be prepared from any kind of stock but the technique works best for the stocks that are rich in gelatin. For this reason, meat glace is prepared from the knucklebones which are rich in gelatin. Stocks containing too little gelatin needs too long to reduce and by the time it reduces the flavor of the stock is compromised.
Fish glace is prepared in the same way as meat glace except that the fish stock is used instead of meat stock. Fish glace has a strong fishy taste and flavour , which it can impart to sauces if used in more than a tiny amount. It is better to use reduced court bouillon. If the concentrated fish stock is required then a double fish stock is preferable.
The term jus traditionally describes the light, natural liquid derived from the drippings of the roasts. Because the natural juices are the most satisfying of all the sauces, chefs often use a variety of technique s to stimulate the flavour of the natural juices.
Long and slow cooking is not the only stock or jus with the flavour of specific meat. Although slow-simmering will extract much of the gelatin and nutritive element from meats and bones, much of the character, freshness, and individuality of the meat is lost. Many chefs mistakenly assume that the best way of extracting and intensifying the character of the meat is by long cooking and subsequently reduction. Actually, the best method for extracting the best flavour from the meats is to brown them in a heavy bottom pan with a small amount of mirepoix until their juices are released.
Juices obtained by this method are often termed as “jus”.
Essences are the extracts made from the vegetables and used as a last-minute flavoring for sauces; an essence is to vegetable what jus is to meats. In classic sauce making essences are used for final flavoring. The most common essences are mushroom essence, truffle essence, and vegetable essence. Any essence is made from its cooking liquid. Simmering the ingredient in water for 15 minutes makes cooking liquid. When the cooking liquid is reduced to 1/4th then it is termed as essence.
The word translates as a “rewetting”, which is a good way to think of the way that remouillage is made. Bones used to prepare a “primary stock” are reserved after the first stock is strained away from the bones. The bones are then covered with water, and a “secondary stock” is prepared.
The classic formula for estouffade set down by Escoffier is virtually identical to what was then known as a brown stock. There are differences to note, however, Estouffade is prepared by simmering together browned meaty veal bones, a piece of fresh or cured pork, and the requisite vegetables and other aromatic.
Meat juice thickened lightly with starch (Potato flour).
A culinary buzzword usually indicates a Bouillon with white wine, shallots, and herbs. Flvouring used in stocks.
BOUQUET GARNI ( Sachet d’ Epices)
A small bundle of herbs tied with the string used to flavor stocks, braises, and other preparation usually contains bay leaf, parsley, thyme, and possibly other aromatics such as leek and celery salt.
Roughly chopped aromatic vegetables e.g onion, carrots, leek, celery in the proportion of 2:1:1:1 used for flavoring stocks, soups, sauces, and stews.
GUIDELINES TO MAKE A GOOD STOCK
1. Use good raw bones – bones that are pleasant smelling and fresh. They should be cracked or cut out crosswise to expose the marrow. Shank and knucklebones are preferred.
2. Use fat-free bones. Fat will produce grease in the stock, spoiling its flavour and appearance.
3. Do not wash the bones or you will wash many water-soluble flavor-producing substances. Some Chefs prefer to wash or blanch the bones, but this should not be necessary if they are fresh.
4. Start with cold liquid. Some proteins in the bones are soluble only in cold water. And a cold-water start will produce a clear stock, whereas starting with hot water will produce a cloudy one.
5. Use a tall, narrow pot to minimize evaporation. A certain amount of flavour is lost in evaporation and the rate of evaporation depends on the surface area of the liquid.
THICKENING AND BINDING AGENTS
Thickening agents give body, consistency, and palatability when used. They also improve the nutritive value of the sauce. Flavored liquids are thickened and converted into soups, sauces, gravies, and curries, etc. In other words, binding agents are used to transforming the stocks into sauces.
There are various types of thickening agents, which are used in modern-day cookery. They are as follows:
- Beurre Manie
- Fruit and Vegetable Puree
- Egg yolk
Starches: Starches derived from roots and vegetables are among the oldest and the most versatile thickener for sauces. They are efficient and inexpensive and can be used without imparting flavour of their own.
Cornstarch: Of the purified starches, cornstarch is the most familiar. They should be used at the last minute for the thickening of the sauces and the cooking liquid that is being served. When it is cooked for a long time then it loses its thickening power. Cornstarch is first mixed in water and then used to thicken the sauces and soups. It is also known as SLURRY.
Arrowroot: Arrowroot is the best of the purified starches because it remains stable even after prolonged cooking. It is used the same way as cornstarch.
Potato starch: (Fecule ) Although potato starch is one of the first starches to be used in French cooking, it has never been popular as a sauce thickener. It is used the same way as cornstarch and like cornstarch, it tends to break down after prolonged exposure to heat.
Flour: In western cooking, flour has long been the most popular thickener for sauces. It can be used in several ways. Although flour has largely been replaced in recent years by other thickeners. It is still the appropriate choice for many country style and regional dishes. The liquid in which flour is to be added must be degreased before the flour is incorporated. Flour binds with lamb and holds it in suspension throughout the liquid, making it difficult to skim. The result is a greasy, indigestible sauce with a muddy texture and flavor.
Roux: The most common method of thickening liquids with flour is to prepare a roux, by cooking the flour with an equal weight of butter. This enhances the flavour of the flour and eliminates the lumps. Because flour contains proteins and other compounds that impart flavor, sauces thickened with roux are usually skimmed for thirty minutes once they have been brought to simmer to eliminate the impurities. Although the stock is skimmed before the roux is added, further the sauce is skimmed to eliminate the butter, impurities in the flour.
There are three types of roux:
- White roux
- Blonde roux
- Brown roux
White Roux: it is prepared by cooking flour and clarified butter for approx. 5 minutes over slow heat and stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. It is used for Béchamel sauce and thick soups.
Blond Roux: Is made from fresh butter and flour. The preparation of butter and flour is the same as for white roux. It is made more rapidly and should be made at the last before using. Its color should be pale gold. It is used for volute sauce and for some soups.
Brown Roux: cooking flour in bouillon fat in the oven, gently and for a long time, removing from time to time to stir, makes it. This roux should be of light brown color. It is used for brown sauce and demiglace.
HOW TO COMBINE ROUX AND LIQUID:
When you have a hot roux, combining it with a liquid is a two-step process. In step 1, you add part of your liquid, cold to the hot roux, blending it in with a whisk. In step 2 you blend in the rest of the liquid hot.
When you have cold roux, you can combine it with hot liquid, overheat, by blending it in with a whisk a little at a time.
Do not try to combine hot roux with hot liquid and cold roux with a cold roux.
BEURRE MANIE (Manipulated Butter ): Like roux, beurre manie contains equal part by weight of butter and flour. It differs from roux because it is not cooked and is usually added at the end of the sauce’s cooking rather than at the beginning. It is most often used to thicken stews at the end of the cooking when the braising liquid is too thin.
The beurre manie should be added little by little in boiling stock whisking continuously so that lumps do not form. Unlike roux, the beurre manie should not be cooked once the sauce is thickened otherwise the sauce will a floury taste. One of the peculiarities of flour is that develops a strong floury taste after two minutes of cooking that begins to disappear as the cooking progresses.
FRUIT AND VEGETABLE PUREE: Sometimes fruit and vegetable puree are used in thickening sauces and soups. The puree soups are the best example of the same
Egg Yolk: Because they thicken sauces in several ways, egg yolks are versatile liaison. They provide a base for emulsified sauces, such as mayonnaise and hollandaise, and are used in conjunction with cream to finish the cooking liquid of poached meats and fish. Not only form an emulsion of fat and liquid but also combines with air so that they be used for sabayon sauce. Sauces containing should not be boiled unless they contain flour, which stabilizes them. When combining egg yolk with liquids, be sure to combine some of the liquid separately before returning the mixture to the saucepan. If the egg yolks are added directly into the hot liquid then they are liable to coagulate as soon as they get in contact with the heat.
Cream: In recent years thickened cream has replaced roux as the thickener, becoming the base for white sauces. Precaution should be taken in reducing cream. A quick whisk should be given to the cream otherwise they become granular and may break. Always use a large saucepan, three times the volume of the cream otherwise flames from the sides can discolor the cream. Whenever cream is used, as a thickener in a wine-based sauce, is sure to reduce the wine otherwise they giving an unpleasant flavor. The cream used in conjunction with egg yolk, butter, and flour gives a better result.
Butter: When butter is whisked into a hot liquid, it forms an emulsion, similar to the action of egg yolk. The milk solids and proteins contained in the butter act as emulsifiers and give butter sauce their sheen and consistency. Because the milk solids in the butter are what maintain the emulsion, sauces and cooking liquids cannot be thickened with clarified butter. In fact, cold butter is proffered to hot butter in the thickening of the sauces.
Blood: Blood has long been used in cooking to finish sauces for the braised or roasted game, poultry, or rabbit. Blood not only deepens the flavour of the sauce but also acts as a thickener. The blood must be mixed with a little amount of vinegar to avoid coagulation.
Liaison: It is the mixture of egg yolk and cream mixed in the proportion of 1: 3 ratio and added to the sauce and soup at the last moment just prior to service. After adding to the food, the food should not be heated. The word is derived from the French means ‘to bind”.
Panada (Panade): It is a cooked mixture of equal proportions of flour and butter with some liquid being mixed in the ratio of 1: 1: 5. They play a prominent part in Larder preparations of various products. Their main function in recipes is to act as binding. Types of panadas are Bread, flour, frangipane, potato, and rice panadas. Sometimes to get a coating consistency the ratio will be 1:1:10 and for a basic pouring consistency, this will change 1:1:20.