What is cooking stock ?
A cooking stock is a flavorful liquid prepared by simmering meaty bones from meat and poultry, seafood or and vegetables in water with aromatics until their flavor, aroma, colour, body and nutritive value is extracted.
Stock (Fonds de Cuisine) is a liquid containing some of the soluble nutrients and flavors of food which are extracted by prolonged and gentle simmering (with the exception of fish stock, which require only 20 minutes). Such liquid is the foundation of soup’s sauces and gravies. Stocks are the foundation of many important kitchen preparation therefore greatest possible care should be taken in their production.
The liquid is then used for the preparation of soup, sauce, stew and also as braising and simmering cooking medium for vegetables and grains.
The word “fond” comes from the word “foundation”. Just as a foundation is the base for a
house, fond is the base for much of cooking. Almost every culinary preparation requires a
fond. For all practical purposes, “stock” and “fond” have the same meaning.
Different Types of Cooking Stock
There are four basic kinds of stock/fond: white stock (Fond Blanc), brown stock (Fond Brun), vegetable or neutral stock (Fond Maigre) and Fish Stock (Fume de Poisson). The classifications refer to the contents and method used to prepare the stock, not necessarily to color.
a. White stock: is made with white meat or beef, veal bones, chicken carcasses, and
aromatic vegetables. The bones or meat are put in cold liquid and slowly brought to a
boil. The mirepoix (a flavoring base of diced vegetables is sweated in suitable fat and then
added to the liquid before it develops any color. The mixture is reduced to a simmer to finish cooking. This stock is used for white sauce, blanquettes, fricassee, and poached dishes.
b. Brown stock: is made with beef, veal, and poultry meat and bones. The bones are
roasted until golden in color, not burnt. (Burnt bones and mirepoix will damage the stock’s
flavor and color). The mirepoix is added when the bones are three-quarters roasted; tomato product may also be added. When the bones and mirepoix are golden in color, cold liquid is added and the mixture is slowly brought to a boil, then reduced to a simmer to finish cooking. This stock is used for brown sauces and gravies, braised dishes, and meat glazes.
c. Vegetable stock: is a neutral stock composed of vegetables and aromatic herbs sautéed
gently in butter, then cooked in liquid. This relatively new type of stock is gaining in
d. Fish stock (Fume de Poisson): is categorized separately from the other basic stocks
because of its limited usage. The basis of fish preparation is the fumet or fond. It has been
said that all fish produce a fumet are equal. Some fish produce better quality stock than
others. The result from some fish are stocks which are too gelatinous and fishy tasting. Fish which are oily yield stock that has a bitter taste or that is milky.
Composition of stock recipe
Bones: bones are the major ingredients of stocks (except water, of course). Most of the flavor and body of stocks is derived from the bones of beef, veal, chicken, fish and occasionally lamb, pork, ham and game.
The kinds of bones determine the kind of stock:
- Chicken stock, of course is made from chicken bones.
- White stock is made from beef or veal bones or combination of the two. Chicken or pork bones are sometimes added in small quantity.
- Brown stock is made from beef or veal bones that have been browned in an oven.
- Fish stock is made from fish bones and trimmings left after filleting. The term Fumet is often used for a flavored fish stock.
- Lamb, game, turkey, and other stocks have specialized uses.
There are two basic facts that you should understand for this:
- When certain connective tissues (called collagen) break down, they form gelatin. This
gives body to stock, an important feature of its quality. A well made stock will thicken or even solidify when chilled.
- Cartilage is the best source of gelatin in bones. Younger animals have more cartilage in their skeletons. Knuckle bones, on the joints of major bones have a lot of cartilage and are valued in stock making.
Meat: Because of its cost, meat is rarely used in stock making any more. Occasionally a broth is produced as a result of simmering meat or poultry. This broth can be used as a stock. Broth means a flavorful liquid obtained from the simmering of meats and vegetables.
Mirepoix: Mirepoix (pronounced meer pwah) is a combination of onions, carrots, and celery. It is a basic flavoring preparation that is used in all areas of cooking, not only for flavoring stocks, but also for sauces, soups, meats, poultry, fish, and vegetables. The classic mirepoix of decades ago contained a wider variety of ingredients, sometimes including ham or bacon, leeks, and other vegetables, and one or more fresh herbs. The modern version is considerably simplified.
Acid Products: Acids, help dissolve connective tissue. Thus they are sometimes used in stock making to extract flavor and body from bones. Tomato products contribute flavor and some acid to brown stocks. They are not used for white stocks, because they would give an undesirable color. Also, when making brown stocks, be careful not to add too much tomato, because this may make stock cloudy. Wine is occasionally used, especially for fish stocks. Its flavor contribution is more important than its acidity.
Seasonings and Spices: Salt is usually not added when making stocks. Stocks are never used as is, but reduced or concentrated. If salt has been added, it might become too concentrated. Some chefs salt stocks very lightly, because they feel it aids in extracting flavor.
Herbs and Spices should be used only lightly. They should never dominate a stock or have a pronounced flavor. These are usually tied in cheesecloth bag called Sachet (pronounced sashay). This sachet is tied by a string to the handle of the stockpot so it can be removed easily at any time.
Bouquet garni is another important term, generally used for a sachet that contains no spices, but only herbs, such as parsley, thyme, bay leaf, and celery leaves.
Rules of stock making
- Always start the stock in cold water.
- Salt should not be added to the stock.
- Unsound meat or bones and decaying vegetables will give stock an unpleasant flavor and cause it to deteriorate quickly.
- All fat must be removed from bones at the outset, as the stock becomes very greasy and becomes rancid soon.
- Stock should only simmer. If allowed to boil, the agitation of particles of fat cause an
emulsification and it becomes milky or cloudy.
- Bouquet garni should be tied to a handle of the stock pot. Cut large pieces of vegetables, should be added later on, as it flavors the stock. If allowed to remain in the pot too long, the vegetables will begin to disintegrate, discoloring the stock.
- The scum should be discarded.
- For storing, the stock should be strained and the liquid should be cooled. No fat should be allowed to remain on surface, as heat is prevented from escaping and may cause the stock to turn, i.e. become sour.
- Stock should be stored in refrigerator or cold room.
- Stocks turn cloudy, if boiled too rapidly and if lid is used and not carefully strained and not skimmed properly.
Blanching Bones: many proteins dissolve in cold water but solidify into small particles and form a scum when heated. It is these particles that make the stock cloudy. The purpose of blanching bones is to remove the impurities and blood that cause cloudiness.
Procedure for blanching bones:
- Rinse bones in cold water to wash off blood and impurities from surface. It is important if the bones are not fresh.
- Place bones in stockpot and cover with cold water as impurities dissolve readily in cold water.
- Bring water to a boil, and impurities solidify and form scum.
Drain bones and rinse well The bones are now ready for stockpot.