Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Stock take...

Well I think I have been banging on about homemade stock for a while now... Try this once and supermarket stock cubes will be but a distant memory… its simple, it’s banging and the base for all my sauces, soups etc.

Remember, you are saving carcass and bones from the butchers skip, and your butcher will only be too happy and obliging to saw and chop down those big bones if you do not have a meat cleaver knocking about your kitchen (in my experience butchers for the most part tend to be foodies drooling at the mouth listening to what mesmerising delights you intend to do with their produce)…

My stock recipes are for the most part sourced from Robuchon… a French culinary bible, expensive but essential in any cookbook repertoire and do not expect glossy pictures and food photography… The complete Robuchon is all about the recipes, French cuisine and banging flavours and I highly recommend it.

How to
Bang the bones into a tall, heavy-bottom pot that will hold the ingredients snugly. Add just enough cold water to cover the ingredients, by little, by little. Whacking in too much water all at once will make a weak tasting stock or as I say “kills it”… Pinch of salt… Bring this to a bubbling at the surface heat and reduce to a simmer. Skim the fat, and impurities that rise to the surface with a ladle or spoon. Now bang in mirepoix, and bouquet Garni or sache… on your stove and that simple… Bang!

Mirepoix …  Mirepoix is simply a mixture of onions, celery and carrots, added to deepen the flavour of the stock. The basic ratio for classical mirepoix is:

2 Parts Onion

1 Part Celery

1 Part Carrot

…and banging guide… For every five pounds of bones, you will need roughly 1 pound of mirepoix.

...Also do not be afraid to add to your mirepoix, leek, garlic... experiment for different flavour...

Sachet/ bouquet Garni/ faggot … A sachet or bouquet garni basically refers to aromatic herbs and spices that are tied up in a cheesecloth pouch and simmered with soups, sauces, or stocks to add extra flavor. A basic sachet for a stock will usually include:

Bay Leaf

Sprigs of Fresh Thyme

Whole Black Peppercorns

Whole Cloves

Parsley Stems

Note: Its rare I limit myself to just these aggot ingrediets. Whatever is in the larder is usually order of the day. Whether it may be tarragon, coriander, chervil, dill even you will be hard pushed to find a herb that does not add bang factor to the finished product... The amount of each ingredient you add to your stock is based on personal preference and how much stock you will be making...

Chicken Stock


Roughly 6 lbs chicken carcass (or enough to 3/4 fill your pot)
6 Celery sticks 
3 Onions
3 Carrot
Rosemary/ Thyme... roughly chopped 
Season to taste

How to
First and foremost we want to brown our bones ... Into the oven at 180 for circa forthy minutes... (Browning increases the flavour) Bang! 
Transfer the leftover bones and skin from a into a large stock pot and cover with cold water. If possible add water little by little instead of all at once. Devil is in the detail, this prevents misty or watery stock.
Add veggies like celery, onion, carrots, rosemary and thyme, season lightly.
Bring to a boil and immediately reduce heat to bring the stock to barely a simmer. Cook the stock at a bare simmer for 3 hours. Never let it boil… I mean just a gentle simmer and checking in on it every half hour or so, skim and ladle fat from the surface. Use a ladel and start with small circular movements frm the centre of the stock surface outwards... spoon fat off. After  four hours the stock should be reduced by half to two thirds…

Strain the cooked stock through a cheesecloth-lined colander, set over a large pot… nearly there. Bin the solids… into a container with stock, cool at room temperature… Bang into fridge, next day, you will see remaining fat has settled, congealed on top through refrigerating process…. Spoon off bang!!

If you would like a more concentrated flavour from your stock, or if you feel it is still weak in flavour well then reduce it some more.  If making stock for future use in soup you may want to reduce the stock by simmering a few hours longer to make it more concentrated and easier to store. Always taste your stock if you feel it is lacking reduce further...

To make a basic beef stock… Follow the directions for chicken stock recipe… replace chicken carcass’s with beef bones… Bang!

To make a basic fish stock - Follow the direction for making basic chicken stock (above), but use the carcass and trimmings of lean fish, or use leftover shells from peeled shrimp to make shrimp stock. Reduce the simmering time to 40 minutes… Bang!

To make a basic vegetable stock - Follow the directions for making basic chicken stock (above), but use a combination of aromatic vegetables such as carrots, onions, celery and cabbage along with herbs such as parsley, bay leaf and thyme. Bang in as much as you like, let your imagination run riot the only ingredient I that for me does not have a home in vegetable stock is broccoli, for me it takes over…


Your stock will keep for months on end… conundrum being, how you decide to store your bad boy to maximise your freezer space… I would like to say freezer ice cube trays for convenience… but I use stock so much I have succumbed to the deep container frozen method… scooping as I need…. Bang!


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