Mastering the Basics - ABC, or doh, re, mi of cooking, Winter Recipes
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Knick-knack paddy-whack give the cook a bone – Stock

Basic ingredients

– A bone (any bone from any animal will do: chicken, game, veal, beef). 

 An onion, Carrots. Celery (or leeks). Salt & Pepper. Parsley. Bay leaf . Vinegar. Water–

For those who truly want to become a master in their own kitchen begin with a simple bone stock. Bones, like animals fats, impart flavour. Also known as broth or bouillon – stock is pathetically simple to make. So amazingly straight-forward you can not go wrong. You’d have thought that for something that adds so much taste, flavour and pleasure to a dish one would first have to be initiated into some kind of cult, spend years in the desert and perform an amazing acrobatic feat before being deemed worthy enough to learn the secret of how to make an outstanding bone broth.

Happily for the everyday cook all you need is a big pot, a bone, water, salt, pepper and some veggies.

The reward in terms of taste and nutrition is second to none. Add a stock to any of your savoury dishes and you will be revered as a master cook. A simple bone broth will quite literally transform an otherwise mediocre, bland dish into a meal your nearest and dearest will come to love you for. French and Italian cooks understands this – one of the reason their dishes are so revered.

Better still, bone stocks are cheap and budget friendly. Even if good quality meat is way too expensive stock up on home-made stock. A good quality, home-made bone broth is literally packed with beneficial nutrients including the valuable and essential animal proteins, vitamins and minute amounts of trace minerals the human body needs to stay in tip-top order. A fake cube of MSG can never replicate the nutritional benefit of making your own broth. Sure, a cube of MSG will add flavour – the industrial cook is great at mimicry remember – but you won’t be getting the same health benefits you would were you to make your own stock.

For best results it is essential that the stock is prepared with some kind of bone. Meat on its own is OK but in order to get that zing that we all crave it is best to throw in a bone of some sort. The bone is a source of marrow and calcium plus hundred of other wonderful trace minerals and nutrients in just the right proportion for easy assimilation by the human body. Sally Fallon and Mary Enig recommend the addition of 2-3 table-spoons of vinegar since it helps draw out more minerals.

Finally, salt. It is important to keep adding salt and tasting the stock until it has reached a point where  the sodium chloride hooks up with the glutamate and amino acids in your stock. At a certain point the two will link and you will have reached the desired savoury flavour every good cook strives for. If you don’t add enough salt even the best bone broth will taste bland. There is no precise measurement for this – just keep sprinkling salt into the broth until the tastes match-up and – zing – suddenly it tastes just right.

Simple Stock

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Choose any aromatics you care for. For the simple stock I used parsley, carrots, leeks, chives and turnips.

Place the bones and all other ingredients in the largest pot you can get hold of. Cover the contents with water to within one inch of the rim of the pot. Season generously with salt and pepper and bring to the boil. When the stock reaches boiling point turn the heat down so that it simmers rather than rolls on a full boil.

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Leave to simmer for as long as possible – three hours minimum, twelve hours preferably.  Remove any grey gunk that floats to the surface. The longer the stock simmers the more nutrients are released and the greater the flavour of the dish.

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A stock which has simmered for around eight hours.

When you are satisfied the stock has simmered long enough, place a tea-towel or cheese cloth in a colander and drain the liquid stock into a clean pot.

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Stock can be stored fresh in the fridge for up to a week. Excess stock can be frozen.

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I store my stock in containers and freeze the ones I am not going to use immediately. This amount lasts me anywhere from four to six weeks.

Brown Stock

According to Marcella Hazan Italian cuisine favours simple veal or chicken stocks as described above. In France, on the other hand, they love the more robust flavours and colours of a brown stock. A brown stock is distinguished only by the fact that the bones are roasted in an oven for 30-45 minutes before they are boiled for a further 12 hours which darkens the final stock hence the name. If simmered for long enough the stock will turn to jelly.

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Use any aromatics you like the look of. For my brown stock I used half a celeriac, tomatoes, carrots and a parsnip.

Place the bones and any spare meat in a large baking tray and roast for 30-45 minutes on a high heat. Make sure the bones do not burn as it will spoil the final flavour of the stock.

When ready place the roasted bones in a large port, scrapping the bits of browned residue at the bottom of the baking tray into your pot and the remain ingredients.

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Proceed as if you were making a simple stock (see above).

3 Comments

  1. Pingback: Goulash | Master in the Kitchen

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