My other food obsession: Soup
I got this in my email the other day and I thought I'd share it with all of you. It's from the Lobel's Culinary Club and it covers just about all the basics of making stocks. Enjoy.
One of cookery’s foundations and a key to individual cooking style is stock making—the source of soups, sauces, and gravies from around the globe.
Having a freezer full of variously flavored stocks can make any dedicated from-scratch cook feel wealthy and prepared for anything.
- Stock – Slow-simmered broth made from cooking meat, poultry, or seafood with or without vegetables and seasonings in liquid—the base for making soups, sauces, gravies, glaces, and demi-glaces.
- Brown Stock – While most stocks are known by their primary ingredient (chicken, beef, veal, etc.), brown stock is made by combining beef and veal in the stockpot, yielding a highly versatile, deeply golden, and gently flavored brew.
- Glace – The syrupy result of reducing stock to about 10 percent of its original volume through long simmering. A glace contributes concentrated flavor without adding a large volume of liquid to sauces and gravies. Lobel's offers Lamb Glace, Pork Glace, and Roasted Chicken Glace.
- Demi-Glace – Equal parts of brown stock, brown sauce (a.k.a. Sauce Espagnole), brown stock, caramelized mire poix, tomatoes, and sherry. Lobel's offers a Veal Demi-Glace.
- Mire Poix – The fundamental mixture of onions, carrots, and celery that serves as the stock’s aromatic base. White mire poix replaces the carrots in favor of leeks or mushrooms.
- Bouquet Garni – A bundle of fresh and/or dried herbs and seasonings added to the stockpot to add herbal notes to the flavor.
Types of Stock
Generally speaking, stocks can be hearty or clear:
- Hearty stocks are made by roasting or browning meat, poultry, bones, or vegetables before deglazing the pan and adding the contents to the stockpot. Roasting and browning caramelize the ingredients which, in turn, deepens their flavor and intensifies the stock’s color.
- Clear stocks are made by combining uncooked meats or bones and vegetables in the pot. Absolute clarity of the stock is of ultimate importance when making consommé or aspic.
For most soup and sauce applications when the stock is combined with other ingredients, a hearty stock that contains small bits suspended in the liquid are of little concern and, in fact, add to the texture and flavor of the stock, soup, or sauce.
Control the Heat
Of paramount importance in stock making: Initially, stock should be brought to a boil, but only briefly until the surface is skimmed of any foam. After that, do not boil the stock. Lower the heat. Simmer is the keyword—bubbles slowly rising to the surface, not a raging roll of bubbles.
Why should you care? Boiling breaks down fats from the meats, etc., emulsifying them, making them inseparable from the final stock and turning it cloudy. Simmering keeps the fats intact, letting them rise to the surface for skimming or separation later for a sparkling clear result.
Once fats and stock are separated, you can always add some fat back to the clear stock for making soup or in a sauce as a roux—equal parts of fat, oil, or butter and flour cooked to a pasty thickening agent.
- Stockpot – These range in size from 5 to 20 quarts and are made from various materials, most often stainless steel or aluminum and should be heavy gauge to withstand high heat needed for browning stock ingredients before adding liquid.
- Colander & Cheesecloth – Together with the colander, cheesecloth is used to strain the stock of solids. Cut a piece of cheesecloth that, when dry, lines the inside of the colander and overhangs by 2 to 3 inches. Dampen the cheesecloth with water and then unfold it to a double thickness to line the colander.
- Potato masher or heavy spoon – Once the stock solids are in the colander (you may have to do this in batches), gather the cheesecloth around the stock solids and press down on them with the masher or spoon to extract as much liquid as possible.
- Skimmer – This long-handled tool with a wide, fine-mesh screen is a life saver.
- Gravy separator – A handy, measuring-cup looking, 2- to 4-cup container with the spout at the bottom used to separate the fat from stock
Although you can opt for fresh whole poultry and meat selections, stock-making is an efficient way to extract every bit of goodness from trimmings and leftovers.
- Parts and cooked parts – When making poultry stock, necks, wings, backs, and gizzards can be used alone or combined with whole poultry or poultry pieces. Do not use poultry livers—they will make the stock bitter.
Fresh bone-in cuts of meat or leftover bones from roasted, grilled, or boiled meats are a good start for stock, particularly if there’s some meat still on them, which can be used later in soup.
- Bones – Beef, veal, lamb, and pork bones of almost any type, particularly shanks (a cross section of the lower leg) and whole leg bones (lamb, ham, etc.) are stock foundations. Meat and poultry bones contain marrow which, when simmered, is absorbed into the stock giving it body, and it acts as gelatin in cold stock (aspic).
Three Important Steps
Skimming – Within the first 30 to 45 minutes on the heat, the stock will produce a foam that rises to the surface and should be carefully skimmed away. A long-handled skimmer, a large, slotted spoon or a small handheld sieve are the best tools for this task.
Straining – Use the cheesecloth and colander to separate the stock’s solids from the broth.
De-Fatting – Here are some options:
- In batches, pour the stock through a gravy separator.
- After removing the solids, refrigerate the stock until a layer of fat has hardened on the surface, which can then be removed with a spoon or spatula.
- Small bubbles of fat can be removed from the surface of warm stock by dragging the edge of a paper towel over the spot of fat.