A stock is a liquid made by cooking various foods in water long enough to extract the flavor and nutrients from the solid particles. The liquid becomes flavorful and nutritious, and the remaining solid particles are discarded. Stocks must be seasoned and flavored cautiously because they will be concentrated when they are finished and probably reduced even further when used as ingredients in other preparations.
2 pounds of bones
4 cups cold water
1 to 2 cups cooked or uncooked, vegetables
1 small onion, sliced
2 slices of parsnip (optional)
Few parsley sprigs
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 bay leaf
Cut any bits of meat away from the bones and place the meat in a large, heavy, heated saucepan. Sear the meat over high heat until brown; this gives the stock flavor. Remove pan from heat and add the cracked bones, cold water, vegetables and seasonings. Bring to a fast rolling boil. Cover very tightly and simmer over low heat for 2 hours. Pour the stock through a large colander to remove the bones. Then strain again through a fine sieve.
For a very clear stock, line the sieve with two layers of cheesecloth. Cool, uncovered. Store the strained stock in a covered glass jar in the refrigerator. Before using, remove any fat that has accumulated on top. This stock will keep refrigerated for 8 to 10 days. Makes about 3 cups.
3 pounds beef bones with meat
2 pounds veal bones with meat
3 celery ribs with leaves
4 tablespoons chopped parsley stems
3 peppercorns, crushed
Use low-priced but flavorful cuts of meat. Usually cross cuts of beef shin are available in meat markets. These are especially good because the bones do not need to be cracked. You can use bones with less meat on them, but a stock made with too little meat has a thin flavor.
Roast meats, carrots and onions in a large roasting pan at 400 degree F. until well browned, usually about 45 minutes. Transfer to your largest pot and add celery, parsley, peppercorns.
Pour 2 to 3 cups of water into the roasting pan and bring the water to a boil on top of the stove. Stir to deglaze the pan, then pour over the meat and vegetables. Add about 4 quarts of cold water. Bring to a boil and remove the scum that rises to the top. Boil and continue to skim for about 10 minutes. Then reduce heat to a simmer and cook for at least 4 hours. Add more water if necessary to keep the bones covered. The longer you cook the stock, the more flavor you will extract.
At the end of cooking, strain as for Basic Stock, cool uncovered, then store in the refrigerator. To freeze, remove the hardened layer of fat and reduce the stock further (to save freezer space). Cool and pour into freezer containers. Do not forget to label: all frozen stocks look alike. Makes about 2 quarts.
Follow the same method as for Brown Stock, but use only the beef bones. Veal bones release large amounts of gelatin-this stock without them will not jell as firmly as Brown Stock, above. You can alter the vegetables and add other seasoning, but remember flavors are greatly concentrated after long cooking.
Follow the same method as for Brown Stock but use only the veal bones. Try to find veal shanks and a veal knuckle. If you have bones with very little meat, add about 1 pound of the least expensive veal in your market. Add 2 to 3 leeks, washed very carefully, and the celery. This stock will be lighter in color than Brown Stock, and the flavor will be more delicate. For this reason it may be more useful because it can be used with many different foods.
Fish stock is the easiest of all stocks to make because it can be ready in an hour. The chief ingredients can usually be gathered at your fish store for nothing. Fish heads, tails and trimmings from filleting are discarded by the bucketful every day. Take your own covered container and ask. The more trimmings you get, the stronger the stock.
Often recipes will suggest clam juice as a substitute for fish stock. If you do not have a choice, it will do, but it is much saltier than stock and the pronounced flavor might over power delicate preparations.
2 to 3 pounds fish trimmings
1 bay leaf
1 small carrot, chopped
1 celery rib
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
4 cups cold water
1/4 cup dry white wine (optional)
Place all ingredients except the wine in a large saucepan. Bring to a fast rolling boil. Cover tightly and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the flesh drops from the bones. Strain as for Basic Stock.
If you use the wine, pour the strained fish stock back into a clean saucepan, add the wine and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and cool. Refrigerate, covered, until ready to use. The stock will keep for 6 to 8 days. Makes about 3 cups.
Stock can be an extremely economical ingredient, since it is usually made from foods often thrown away and thus wasted.
Bones used in stock should be cracked, if possible, to release minerals, especially calcium, and the vitamins in the marrow, because they are then cooked in the liquid and add to the nutritional value.
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