Stock is un-thickened, unseasoned, nutritious liquid containing some of the soluble nutrients and flavours of food which is extracted from the prolonged and gentle simmering of bones in water along with some aromatic vegetables (carrot, turnip, onion, celery, leaks, etc) and herbs to flavour it.
Stock is the basis of all meat sauces, gravies, soups, and purèes. It is really just the flavour of meat extracted by long and gentle simmering, or the infusion/transfer of flavour from ingredients such as fish, vegetables or shellfish. In making stock, it should be remembered that the objective to draw the goodness ou of solid into the liquor, imparting the desired level of flavour or other elements that are important to end the product, whether to be a sauce, soup or perhaps a reduction.
Stocks are the foundation of many important kitchen preparations; for this reason, the greatest possible should be taken in their production, and stocks, bouillons and ages should only be made with high-quality ingredients. A good, well-flavoured stock cannot be made with inferior ingredients.
Ingredients Used in stocks
- Bones; Bones are the major ingredients of stock. The kind of bone used to determine the stocks. Bones of beef, veal, chicken, fish, and occasionally lamb, pork, ham and game.
- Mire-poix; Second most important contributors of flavour to stocks. It is roughly cut aromatic vegetables like carrot, turnip, leek, onion, celery etc to flavour the stock.
- Bouquet garni; Bundle of herbs usually tied together or tied in a cheesecloth bag called sachet (sa-shay) are mainly used yo prepare stocks, soups, stew such as parsley steam, thyme, bay leaf, peppercorns, cloves. It should be used tightly and should never dominate a stock.
- Clean and fresh water .
Key Points to Remember When Making Stocks
- Clean and fresh bone should be used.
- All fat, skin, meat and marrow should be removed from the bones.
- Bones should be blanched to remove all the impurities before making stock.
- Stock should never be boiled. It should always be simmered to prevent cloudy stock by rapid evaporation.
- Stocks should be simmered for minimum 3 to 8hrs as depends.
- Skimming of scum should be done periodically; otherwise, it will boil into the stocks and spoil the colour and flavour of the stock.
- Mire-poix and bouquet garni should be added as the additional flavouring agent.
- Stock should never be covered during preparation; otherwise, it will go cloudy and milky.
- In case of brown stock all bones, vegetables should be well browned with fat first.
- Stock should always be strained before used by using a muslin cloth or conical strainer.
- Do not add any spices and salt to stock.
- Ensure that the stock is strained and cooled before storing.
A nage is light but well-flavoured stock, often used for cooking fish and other seafood. The age will enhance the flavours of the dish.
Nearly every chef will have variations. Many cooks use ratio to help them remember the basic proportion as follows.
Bones : 50%
Mirepoix : 10%
Water : 100%
Bouquet Garni : One bunch (size of the bunch depending upon the quantity of the stock to be prepared)
Types of Stock
Basically there are two types of stocks on the basis of nature and origin though here
- White Stock : made from beef, veal, poultry, pork, lamb, fish
- Brown Stock : made from poultry, beef, veal, pork, lamb
When cooking predominantly meat stocks, be mindful that they will contain collagen. This is the main fibrous component of skin, tendons, connective tissue and bones. If you have cooked in higher temperature (e.g boiling), the collagen content of the sauce will be high, giving you a viscous sauce earlier in the reduction process; due to the thickness of such a sauce, it is impossible to reduce it further without burning.
When making a glaze ensures that the base stock used at the start has a medium extraction of collagen(no too thick). This will yield a more flavoursome result and the glaze will be less viscous.
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