Wow- I never thought I could get so excited about stocks!
This week I had my second day of culinary school and we covered stocks and mise en place. No we were not standing over a pot watching it boil for four hours. There was actually quite a bit to learn!
First of all, did you know that a good stock takes about 12 hours to make and it’s best to use bones instead of the flesh. The flesh will improve flavor but the collagen in the bones is the most important part!
There are two types of stocks- white and brown. Can you make a white stock out of dark meat like veal? Why yes you can! The difference between the two is roasting the bones for a brown stock. Here’s a little example- think of the difference in flavor between a boiled chicken (white stock) and a roasted chicken (brown stock). et voila! Brown vs. White
Both stocks started out pretty much the same by practicing our knife skills by cutting up the mirepoix ( 25% carrots, 50% onion, 25% celery). For the brown stock, we threw some veal bones in the convection oven to roast, and for the white, we washed some chicken bones, cover with water and brought to a boil. Side note- the best size bones for a stock are around 3 inches (you can cute them down to size). Now- here’s the most important part. Your goal here is to have a clear broth which has less impurities. A boil will release more impurities. So! After bringing the stock to a boil, skim the top, and then turn down to a simmer for the remainder of the cooking time.
Right at the end of class, we took them off the stove to taste them. The white stock smelled like chicken soup and the brown stock- kind of amazing. Here’s the surprise- they tasted SO bland. But really that’s the point! Stocks are used for bases of sauces, soups, etc. A good stock will add flavor but not take over the dish. Stocks also don’t contain salt so you have the capability to adjust it in your dish.
Stocks are perfect to make over the weekend. Set it on the stove and check on it ever so often, skimming the top to get rid of impurities. Then cool it down and freeze it for whenever you need it.
Basic Brown Stock
Yield: 1 1/4 Gallons
10 lbs veal, beef, or chicken bones
3/4 cup red wine
1/2 lb diced onion
1/2 lb diced celery and carrot
2 Tb tomate paste
2 fresh thyme branches or 1 tsp. dried thyme
1 bay leaf
2 tsp black peppercorns
Place bones in a roasting pan and place in a 350 deree oven. Cook until the bones are nicely browned and not at all burned. Stir the bones often while cooking. Add to a stock pot and cover until the water is about 2-3 inches over the bones. Bring to a boil. Deglaze the pan with red wine and add it to the stock.
Saute the onions, celery, and carrots (mirepoix) in a small amount of oil until lightly browned. Add the mirepoix, tomato paste and sachet (thyme, bay leaf, peppercorns tied together in a coffee filter or cheesecloth). Reduce heat to a simmer. The mirepoix is added after the first boil for purely practical reasons. Less stuff in the pot means an easier time skimming off scum. Cook for 3 hours for a chicken stock, and 6-8 for veal stock. Strain, freeze, and use!
White Stock is very similar. The only difference- you don’t roast the bones or saute the veggies annd it doesn’t include the tomato paste or wine. The result is a much lighter, less flavorful stock perfect for pretty much anything.
Last but not least- Mise en Place meaning “Everything in it’s Place.” It’s really just a fancy term for getting organized before starting a recipe. This means getting out all of your ingredients and measuring them before starting to cook and also having all of the equipment you’ll need handy. For the pros, it helps them keep up with a dinner rush because everything is prepared. For a home cook, well it’s a great check to make sure you have all the necessary ingredients before starting.
Next week we start “Major Cooking Techniques.” Dun Dun Dun… This includes braising, searing, sauteing (I’ve been practicing flipping stuff in pans), grilling, broiling, pan-frying, and roasting. Woohoo!
There’s still a count down for the first knife cut in our class. Hopefully it’s not me!