Stock is the foundation of everything when it comes to cooking, and that’s a fact. The ability to prepare delicious stocks is a ticket to the world rich of flavours. I strongly believe that when considering cooking at home, one should get used to cooking using exclusively a homemade stock.
I know it sounds complicated, but it’s quite easy to do and, obviously, it’s worth it! You should practice making your own stocks rather than buying them from grocery shops. Forget about stocks in cubes or granules! Aside from the fact that they’re artificial and full of concentrates, they lack the richness and taste of fresh ingredients in a homemade stock.
Stocks elevate your dishes to an entirely new level. Even the simplest risotto becomes a heavenly celebration if you substitute water with rich homemade stock.
I encourage you to freezing your stock, so that you always have some on hand. Even if you are not planning to make complicated sauces, you will find stocks are useful for a number of other dishes: risotto, pasta, stews, soups and braises.
I personally choose a day when I prepare my stocks in advance. I let them cool, strain them and place them in containers of different volumes to freeze. Therefore, I always have a base for any dish at my fingertips.
There are different types of stock: white stock, brown stock, stock glace and court bouillon.
Today I want to share some important steps and tips for the preparation of any successful stock. I will also provide you with a recipe for basic fish stock, which I use very often.
- The water you add to all you ingredients in the stock should always be COLD. Don’t use hot water as it will melt the fat and muddy up the stock.
- Salt should not be added while preparing the stock, especially if you are planning to boil it down. By adding salt at this stage, you risk ruining your dish with excessively saltiness.
- Bones. The best thing you can do is to use fresh bones for your stock. For the fish stock in particular choose skeletons of white low-fat fish, as bones of fatty fish will produce a very oily stock, which doesn’t taste good. When preparing beef stock, veal bones are usually used, as they provide a richer taste than that of the beef.
- Vegetables and herbs. Carrots, celery, bay leaves, parsley and thyme – a classical mix for stocks! Don’t use starchy vegetables such as potatoes, as they will make your stock muddy.
- Boiling. Always remove the froth from the surface of your stock, as otherwise it will have an unpleasant, oily flavour.
- Dépouiller. Not everyone knows about this little trick, but you should certainly remember it. Cold water is added to the stock when it starts boiling – this helps to make it dense and to keep the froth together. Using this method can allow your stock can reach certain clarity.
- Filtering. Don’t try to press the bones and vegetable when you are filtering your stock, this will make it muddier.
- Time. The preparation time varies from 20 minutes to a couple of hours.
- For the fish stock no more than 20 minutes are needed – otherwise the stock can become bitter.
- Seafood: 30-40 minutes
- Vegetable stock: 30 minutes maximum
- White stock (veal, chicken) – around 3 hours
- Brown stock from the chicken – around 4-5 hours
- Brown stock from veal or beef – around 6 hours
- Reducing /Glace. After filtering your stock, you can boil it until it has reduced to a glaze and use it in dishes to increase the taste and flavours.
- Storage. Freezing is a great way to store your stocks. What you need to do is allow your stock to cool, spoon into different containers, mark them with the date and place them in the freezer. Your homemade stock can keep for up to 3 months.