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Veal Stock

Introduction:

Stock is the magic in the kitchen; it’s the process of turning waste in to wealth. You have your fish and chicken stocks which are the nice little quaint ones that dance around on their tip-toes delicately displaying their dainty flavour profiles. Imagine them to be the Enya of the stock world.

Now let’s bring in some heavy grungy rock and forthrightly introduce the big boy of the stock world – veal. This stock swans around grunting and growling letting all and sundry know that if he’s on your plate he will steal the show.

For all the grace and finesse of the French they do love to let their Gallic hair down and get serious with some really big flavour; and our veal stock will do this in spades. He may initially seem just a step up in flavour from monsieur poulet, but get him bubbling and simmering for a while and he turns in to demi-glace, a blindingly meaty, complex and startlingly fine sauce base. If you want to turn him into some thrash metal god that will do to your taste buds what the music will to your ears and head then reduce him further and you’ve got the king; the glace.

For all its bravado however, leaving the veal stock unreduced highlights its versatility as it delivers finesse and subtlety, especially in fish sauces. The veal stock here can be used for gentle sauces or reduced down to a demi-glace or glace.

 

Serves: 2 litres   |   Preparation:  1 hour + settle overnight   |   Cooking: 4 hours

 

Ingredients:

2kg Veal bones | Cut into 10-15cm pieces.
2 Carrots | Peeled and sliced.
2 Brown onions | Peeled and roughly chopped.
125ml White wine | I used a pinot grigio – but a nice light, dry and fragrant wine is good.
2 Celery stalks | Finely sliced.
60g Swiss brown mushrooms | Finely sliced.
Small Leek | Use the outer layer for the bouquet garni below. Finely slice the white part.
1 clove Garlic |  
400ml Tomatoes | A tin of diced tomatoes is good. Otherwise use 6 medium ripe tomatoes (peeled, seeded and chopped).
1 Bouquet garni | See Bouquet Garni for Chicken and Meat.

 

 

How To:

Preheat oven to 230 deg C (450 deg F). Put the veal bones in a roasting tin and roast in the oven for about 40 minutes, turning occasionally so that the bones are browned all over. Now put the carrots and onions in with the bones and roast for a further 10 minutes.

Transfer the bones, carrots and onions in to a stock pot. Deglaze the roasting tin with the white wine ensuring that all those dark crusty bits (the flavoursome ones) are lifted from the tin. Pour the deglazed wine and juices into the stock pot. Now add 4 litres of cold water to the stock pot and bring to the boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down to a simmer and skim any foamy scum that rises to the surface. The best way to do this is to take a small ladle or tablespoon, swirl the water until the foam moves outwards and then skim. When the water is clear add the celery, mushrooms, leek, garlic, tomatoes and bouquet garni. Bring back to the boil and then put on a very low simmer for 3 hours, leaving the pot uncovered.

When the three hours are up strain the stock through a fine sieve and then allow it to cool. Put the stock in the fridge overnight. The fat will solidify and rise to the surface. Strain the stock through a sieve lined with muslin cloth to remove all of the fat.

 

Notes:

  • The stock keeps for about a week in the fridge; otherwise freeze in portions.
  • Reduce the strained stock by one third for a demi-glace.
  • Reduce the strained stock by one half for a glace.

 

Chinese Master Stock

Introduction:

A master stock in Chinese cooking is as analogous to that of a sourdough starter and baker. It can be nurtured, raised and then maintained for weeks, months and even years. Legend has it that in China there are stocks that are hundreds of years old, passed down through generations.

The main use of a master stock is to *poach or braise meat which results in the stock imparting a multitude of flavours to the meat, as well as giving the meat a reddish-brown colour; a result due to the presence of soy sauce.

The flavour profile of a master stock is enhanced over time, the improvement of which is a result of the braising or poaching. There are some lines of thinking that states you should only braise one particular meat per master stock, but I have yet to find any real advantage of doing so. For me, the variation of meat types gives the stock a fantastic character.

Like many ancient concoctions a master stock is a formula that has an almost infinitesimal number of variations each usually passed down through generations of families. However, the base of these stocks have key vital ingredients, namely soy sauce, sugar, shao xing wine, spices such as star anise, coriander seed, cinnamon and Szechuan pepper, garlic and  mandarin peel.

It is only recently that I have discovered the versatility and amazing character of a master stock and it is a now must-have stock in my humble kitchen.

 

Safety Aspect:

To keep those nasty little microorganisms away from this liquid gold it’s vitally important that any impurities are removed from the stock once it has been used. Typically I will boil the stock for a few minutes after use, let it cool to room temperature and then leave it in the fridge overnight. I then skim away any fat and strain the stock into a clean container. If I am not going to use it again in the next few days, which is usually the case, I freeze it. It will, however, keep in the fridge for about 4 or 5 days but it must be used again within this time frame otherwise it will deteriorate and become unsafe to use.

Over time the stock level will reduce, mainly to evaporation. To replenish the stock I make another standard batch and then add it to the existing stock. This dilutes the complex flavour structure of the existing stock, but after a few uses it returns; and it also replenishes the flavour with a fresh spiciness.

The recipe here is the variation that I use, but there is nothing to stop you from experimenting and designing a master stock to suit your palette and requirements.

 

* The term poach means to gently simmer food that is completely immersed in liquid; the term braise means to barely simmer food in a little liquid.

 

Serves: About 3 ½ litres  |   Preparation: 10 minutes   |   Cooking: 30 minutes

 

Ingredients:

3 litres Cold water |
225ml Light Soy | I find that heavy soy is too powerful for this stock.
500ml Shao xing wine | Also known as Chinese cooking wine.
225g Yellow rock sugar | Yellow rock sugar is a star. It adds a more subtle sweetness than white refined sugar and also gives the stock a glossiness which is passed on to the poached or braised meat.
5 cloves Garlic | Crushed.
2 sticks Cinnamon |
2 sticks Cloves 3 |
6 Star anise | For me, this spice is the essence of China.
5 Green cardamom pods | Gently split the pods.
1½ tsp. Cumin seeds |
1 tsp. Szechuan pepper |
1 tsp. Coriander seeds |
1 tsp. Fennel seeds |
3 x 5cm pieces Mandarin peel | Most recipes ask for dried mandarin peel. I use fresh and am happy with the result. If you want to use it, dried mandarin peel can be bought. Otherwise fresh mandarin peel can be dried out in an 80 deg. C oven for 2-3 hours or so.

 

How To:

Add the water to a stock pot. To the water add all the other ingredients and then bring to the boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat and simmer for no more than 30 minutes. Take the stock off the heat and allow it to cool. Once cool strain through a fine sieve. You can use it straight away, store it in the fridge for up to 5 days, or freeze it.

Lamb Stock

Introduction:

Making stock can be a right royal pain in the derriere – the concept I initially struggled with was spending hours cooking something that was not going to be eaten straight away. The roasting, boiling, skimming, simmering, filtering, chilling, skimming, filtering… and for what? For liquid gold, that is what. And that is why the struggle was only initial because when I discovered the potential of home-made stock it became a culinary pleasure; a necessity; a vital part of flavour in the kitchen.

Lamb stock is amazing. Reduced down to a glace (when a stock is reduced to 10% of its original volume) or demi-glace (stock is reduced to 25-40% of its original volume) you end up with a wonderfully rich sauce which can transform the nice into the incredible; something I believe is used in the armoury of good chefs to elevate their food into the heavenly.

I really like to understand why things happen and what happens when cooking and have recently been interested in stocks. Have you ever wondered why red meat stocks are cooked for much longer than chicken or fish stocks? Why does the fat that aggregates at the surface of a stock have very little taste yet we know that the fat in marbled steak contains a lot of flavour? What is the initial foam that accumulates on the surface and why should it be skimmed?

 

Quick answers to these questions:

Red meat bones are more robust than chicken, which are more robust than fish. Apart from compounds that are easily extracted from the connective tissues in red meat when making stock there is another process that occurs. This process is the break down (hydrolysis) of collagen, the main protein of connective tissue, to components such as gelatine. This break down requires prolonged exposure to heat (simmering), usually for a few hours. Apart from the other ingredients, such as herbs and vegetables, this breakdown of the connective tissue is what imparts the wonderful flavour to stock. In addition, the browning of the bones prior to simmering promotes the Maillard reaction (breakdown of surface proteins) which adds significant flavour to the stock.

Regarding the tasteless fat on the surface of the stock – usually flavour components are fat soluble or water soluble (there are chemicals to help components dissolve in both, but that’s getting too much into chemistry!). It is believed that the compounds that are extracted during the simmering and breaking down of the collagen in stock are water soluble so dissolve in the water and not the fat; hence tasteless fat. When cooking steak the collagen and fat is not heated long enough to break down so the flavour remains in the fat.

And that foam at the surface of the stock – these are proteins that broken down and then coagulate and form the foam. They don’t add any value to the stock, and need to be removed especially if you are making a clear stock, such as a consommé.

There is a whole science around what happens when making stock which I have only just scratched the surface of. However, the bottom line is that whatever wizardry happens during the cooking, a great stock should be on hand…and here’s your chance now to make yourself a super little lamb stock.

 

Serves:  2.5 litres   |   Preparation:  1 hour + settle overnight  |   Cooking: 5 hours

 

Ingredients:

2.5kg Lamb bones | Cut into 10-15cm pieces.
2 Carrots | Peeled and roughly chopped.
2 Celery sticks | Roughly chopped.
2 Brown onions | Peeled and roughly chopped.
½ kg Tomatoes | Nice and ripe – you can use Roma, as an example.
1 Bouquet garni | See Bouquet Garni for Chicken and Meat – substitute rosemary for tarragon.

 

 

How To:

Preheat oven to 180 deg C (350 deg F). Put your lamb bones in a roasting tin and roast in the oven for about an hour. We want to see some lovely browning and great lamb aromas emanating. Put the roasted bones in a stock pan with 5 litres of cold water. Discard any lamb fat from the roasting tin. Add 100ml of water to the roasting tin, heat it on the stove top, and using a wooden spoon deglaze the tin. Pour the deglaze into the stock pot.

Bring the water and bones to the boil and then reduce the heat until the water is simmering. Skim away the foam that congregates at the surface. The best way to do this is to take a small ladle or tablespoon, swirl the water until the foam moves outwards and then skim. When the water is clear add the vegetables, tomatoes and bouquet garni. Bring back to the boil and then put on a very low simmer for 4 hours, leaving the pot uncovered.

When the four hours are up strain the stock through a fine sieve and then allow the stock to cool. Put the stock in the fridge overnight. The fat will rise to the surface and solidify. Remove the hardened fat and then strain again through a fine meshed sieve.

 

Notes:

  • The stock keeps for about a week in the fridge; otherwise freeze in portions.
  • Lamb stock has a very distinct flavour and is therefore mostly used in lamb based dishes.

 

Chicken Stock

Introduction:

This is one of the staple basics of cooking, especially for sauces and soups. I have played around with a number of variations of chicken stock, ranging from the lightly fragrant to the deeply intense. What I have personally settled on is a stock that meets somewhere in the middle. I will use this unreduced when I want to take advantage of the delicate flavours within the stock, for example in light soups and when used for poaching. Reduced, this stock has a richly deep flavour and ideal for rich sauces. One of the great flavour enhancers in this stock is to roast the chicken wings sprinkled with milk powder (this idea was inspired by Heston Blumenthal). The protein in milk powder (casein) seems to promote the browning, or Maillard reaction, of the chicken during the roasting process – the more browning the more intense the flavour.

 

Serves: About 3 litres  |   Preparation: 30 minutes   |   Cooking: 2.5 hours

 

Ingredients:

For the Chicken Wings
1kg  Free range chicken wings |
Sprinkling Dried Milk Powder | This should be a light sprinkling.
100ml Hot water | Used for deglazing.
For the Stock
2 Free range chicken carcasses | Cut into 10cm pieces.
4 Cold Water | About 1 litre is lost during simmering.
1 Carrot | Peeled and roughly chopped.
1 Onion | Halved.
2 Cloves | 1 clove studded in each onion half.
1 Celery stalk | Ensure the stalk is green – roughly chopped.
100g Swiss brown mushrooms | Thinly sliced – do not rinse as this tends to wash away some of the flavour.
1 Leek | White part only – roughly chopped.
1 Bouquet Garni | Click here for Bouquet Garni.

 

How To:

Put the chicken wings in a roasting tin so that they fit snugly. Sprinkle with milk powder and put in an oven which has been preheated to 200 deg C. Roast for approximately 45 minutes, or until they are a deep sticky brown. Remove from the roasting tin, drain the fat from the roasting tin and then deglaze the tin with the hot water. The deglaze has an intense flavour.

In a stock pot add the roasted chicken wings, deglaze, chicken carcass pieces and cold water. Bring to the boil and then simmer gently, skimming the foamy scum that forms on top. I use a small ladle and create a swirling motion from the centre of the pot which forces the foam to the edge. This foam is then skimmed from the surface. The foam is a result of proteins breaking down and aggregating on the surface. By clearing the foam you have a much better chance of having a clear stock.

After about 4-5 minutes add the rest of the ingredients, and then simmer the stock gently and uncovered for 1.5 hours. Filter the stock through a fine meshed sieve, and allow to cool. Once cool store in the fridge overnight so that the fat hardens and is easy to skim from the surface. Once most of the fat has been removed use within a week or freeze for later.

 

Notes:

  • I personally don’t add salt to a stock, as I will season the dish that the stock goes in to.
  • I pour the stock in to 250ml disposable cups covered with lids made from foil, and then freeze.