What's the fuss about a simple stock?
So one of the first things taught in culinary school to the legions of charming, innocent and happy students is how to make a good stock. That, and how to not cut your hands off with a knife.
It’s a really basic, simple thing, but one of the key factors of a good stock is using good ingredients. There are some chefs out there who will just throw whatever they have on hand into the stock, turning it really into the proverbial “kitchen sink.”
Tomatoes that are bit too soft? Sure! Some of these carrots that are looking wimpy? Why not! It’s just stock! Ignore that moldy celery, it’s gonna cook out!
But the problem with this approach is that if you throw all this nigh-garbage into your stock, you’ll get a mediocre product. The extra long cooking time can cover up the bad aspects of some of these ingredients, of course, and that’s why these chefs do this, because they feel they can get away with it.
Don’t do that.
A stock is like a foundation. It’s the beginning, the genesis of soups, sauces and all manner of wonderful things. If you have a gorgeous multi-million dollar house on a shabby foundation, no one’s gonna want to buy your place when the walls are cracking and pipes are breaking and the roof is leaning to the side like some Italian monolith.
An excellent stock can make beautiful sauces, rich soups and stews. A mediocre stock? Well, the best you can ever hope to get is a mediocre sauce. If mediocrity is what you’re shooting for, heck, go for it – but if you want to have great sauces, take the time and lay your foundation right – make a great stock.
- Chef Savage
5 LB VEAL BONES
8oz CAN TOMATO PASTE
5 CUPS MIREPOIX
2 Cups Onion, Cut into Eighths
1 Cup Carrot, Rough Chopped
1 Cup Celery, 2 Inch Segments
1 Cup Leek, Halved and cut into 2 Inch Segments
5 EA BLACK PEPPERCORNS
4 EA WHOLE GARLIC CLOVES
8QT WATER, Cold
2 EA BAY LEAVES
1 OZ FRESH THYME
1 OZ PARSLEY STEMS
1 OZ ROSEMARY
2 QT RED WINE
Spread bones in a roasting pan and roast for about 30 minutes at 425º F, turning once. Remove the pan from the oven and paint a thin layer of the tomato paste over the bones. Spread the vegetables in the pan and roast an additional 15-20 minutes, until the vegetables begin to caramelize.
Remove the pan from the oven and move all of the bones and vegetables to a stockpot. Place the pan over high heat on the stove and deglaze with the wine, scraping the pan with a whisk or metal spoon to remove the caramelized drippings. Pour the wine and drippings into the stockpot. Add the peppercorns, garlic, bay leaves and fresh herbs. Fill the pot with enough cold water to cover the bones.
Over medium heat, slowly bring the stock up to a very gentle simmer - don’t let it boil. Adjust the temperature to maintain a gentle bubbling. Every thirty minutes or so, skim off any foam that rises to the top of the pot.
Let the stock simmer gently for at least four hours. If you have the time, it can simmer for up to 12 hours. Add a little more water and lower the heat if you are getting too much evaporation.
When the stock is done, remove the solids and discard. Strain the stock through a very fine mesh strainer or through a colander lined with three or four layers of cheesecloth. Chill quickly over ice and then refrigerate. When the stock has thoroughly chilled, the fat will separate and rise to the top, where it will congeal. Remove and discard.
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