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Making stock


You'll need

  Chicken stock 3 kg chicken carcasses and bones, coarsely chopped 2 onions, coarsely chopped 1 celery stalk, coarsely chopped 1 carrot, coarsely chopped 1 leek, white part only, coarsely chopped 1 garlic head, halved 1 bouquet garni (see note) 8 white peppercorns   Veal stock 3 kg veal bones 2 onions, coarsely chopped 2 carrots, coarsely chopped 1 celery stalk, coarsely chopped 1 leek, washed and coarsely chopped 1 garlic head, halved 3 tomatoes, coarsely chopped 8 black peppercorns 1 bouquet garni (see note) 250 ml white wine   Fish stock 2 kg white fish bones, rinsed 1 leek, white part only, washed and coarsely chopped 1 onion, coarsely chopped 1 celery stalk, coarsely chopped 1 bouquet garni (see note) 6 white peppercorns   Vegetable stock 4 celery stalks, coarsely chopped 2 carrots, coarsely chopped 2 leeks, white part only, coarsely chopped 1 onion, coarsely chopped 4 garlic cloves, bruised 1 bouquet garni (see note) 6 white peppercorns

Method

  • 01
  • For chicken stock, remove as much fat as possible from bones, then rinse bones under cold running water and place in a large saucepan. Add vegetables, garlic, bouquet garni, peppercorns and enough water to cover bones, bring to the boil over medium-high heat, reduce heat to low and gently simmer, skimming occasionally until stock is well-flavoured (4-5 hours). Remove from heat, carefully strain through a muslin-lined fine sieve (discard solids). Cool to room temperature. Refrigerate stock until chilled and fat comes to the surface (2-4 hours), then carefully remove fat from surface. Makes about 3 litres. Stock will keep refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 1 month. To make a brown chicken stock, preheat oven to 190C. Divide chicken carcass between two roasting pans and roast, rotating pans halfway through cooking until golden in colour (45 minutes-1 hour), then add vegetables to pan and roast until vegetables begin to colour (30 minutes), place in a large saucepan and follow as per above recipe.
  • 02
  • For veal stock, preheat oven to 190C. Divide bones between two roasting pans and roast, rotating pans halfway through cooking, until starting to colour (1 hour), then add onion, carrot, celery, leek and garlic to pan and roast until golden (40-50 minutes). Transfer bones and vegetables to a large saucepan, add tomatoes, peppercorns and bouquet garni and set aside. Deglaze roasting pan with wine (scraping the bottom of the pan), add to saucepan and cover completely with cold water. Bring to the boil over medium-high heat, reduce to low and lightly simmer, skimming occasionally until well-flavoured (6-7 hours). Remove from heat, carefully strain through a muslin-lined fine sieve (discard solids). Cool to room temperature. Refrigerate stock until chilled and fat comes to the surface (2-4 hours), then carefully remove fat from surface. Makes about 3 litres. Stock will keep refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 1 month.
  • 03
  • For fish stock, place ingredients in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil over medium heat, reduce to low and lightly simmer, skimming occasionally until well-flavoured (1 hour). Cool slightly (10 minutes), then carefully strain through a muslin-lined fine sieve. Cool to room temperature, then refrigerate stock until chilled (2-4 hours). Makes about 2½ litres. Stock will keep refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 1 month.
  • 04
  • For vegetable stock, combine ingredients in a saucepan. Cover with cold water, bring to the boil over medium heat, then reduce to low and lightly simmer, skimming occasionally until stock is flavoured (30-40 minutes). Remove from heat, strain through a muslin-lined fine sieve (discard solids). Cool to room temperature then refrigerate stock until chilled (2-4 hours). Makes about 2 litres. Stock will keep refrigerated for up to 3 days and frozen for up to 1 month.

Note For a bouquet garni, wrap parsley stems, bay leaves and thyme sprigs in muslin.


Stock is the foundation of many dishes, so it's imperative to use a quality one or risk writing the whole dish off. You can buy stock, but generally the quality available is pretty poor, so you're better off making your own and freezing batches to have on hand when you need it. If you are buying stock, you may want to correct the flavour and mouth-feel before adding it to your dish. You can do this by adding more vegetables and meat scraps (browning the scraps first if using in a brown stock). Bought stocks don't contain a lot of gelatine - which comes from the bones and creates a jelly-like texture when chilled. Adding a pig's trotter to a large quantity of bought stock can increase the viscosity - this will help produce the desired sleekness in a finished sauce. Always taste your stock and make sure you are happy with the flavour before using, as you can't change it once added.

If you're going to the trouble of trying to correct a pre-made stock, then you may as well make your own from scratch. In general, a stock will simmer gently for a few hours, so there really isn't much legwork on your behalf, just pop it on the stove and leave it be. But first, there are a few important things to consider when making a stock.

With white stocks, it's important to rinse the bones under cold running water to remove any blood. This isn't necessary with brown stocks as the blood will cook and congeal before being added to the pan. Remember your stockpot isn't a garbage bin, so don't throw just anything into the stock. However, if you have any tomato and mushroom scraps you can add them to brown stocks to enhance the flavour.

Add enough water to the bones and vegetables to just cover them. The water must be cold to start with before bringing it up slowly to a very gentle boil. Once it is at this point, reduce the heat so the stock is only just bubbling away and cook for as long as it takes to infuse the water with the flavour. Fish and vegetable stock will take around 1-2 hours, white and brown chicken stock about 4-6 hours and veal, beef and lamb stock about 6-8 hours. The heartier the bones, the longer it takes to withdraw the essence. Once bubbling, it's important to occasionally skim any scum that rises to the surface. Apart from the skimming, leave the stock to gently tick over. If the heat is too high and it returns to the boil, throw a few ice cubes in to drop the temperature.

When the stock is ready, the straining is just as important. If you strain the stock, make sure to remove as much as you can first with a ladle, then scoop out the bones and vegetables with a spider or wire strainer, and discard, straining the remainder of the stock through a muslin-lined fine sieve. You can find muslin at most kitchenware stores. It can be a little expensive, but can be washed in some soap-free hot water, dried and re-used for your next stock. Muslin is useful as it's a fine gauze, therefore catching fine sediment from your stock and leaving you with a clean result.


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Jun 2009

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