“Capt’n, We’ve Hit Brothy Waters?


Not to long ago we talked about wet cooking. If your memory is as good as most, the method involves a flavorful liquid. Many liquids are great for braising but there exist a couple that are simply splendid. Stocks and broths are ideal for adding a layer of flavor to any dish. Whats the difference?

Stock:

Stock is the simmering of bones to achieve a yummy “tea” for your cooking needs. Many additions like vegetables, spices, herbs, and seasonings may find their way into a stock. Veggie infusions are also called stocks so any infusion of a vegetable, fruit, spice or herb can be considered a stock (ex. Lemongrass, Ginger, Leek Stock). Why bones? Bones, apart form having high levels of collagen, basically connective tissue that give a stock or sauce a luscious body, were more affordable than whole meaty cuts in the day when stocks were codified. Have you ever made a soup or gravy and after too much over eating during thanksgiving, still had enough for left overs, put it away in the fridge, and when you returned for more demolition the next day, your soup or gravy was jellied? This is thanks to collagen. And yes, Jello-O is collagen from animal parts. Mmmmm, orange jello-0. There are several ways of achieving thickness in a stock or liquid. Collagen from bones is great for stock, but what about if i want to make mango jell-o, or perhaps gravy? Agar-agar, cornstarch, arrowroot, tapioca, and gellan are all thickeners readily available. Agar comes from a irish moss, a seaweed, and is great for cold preparations. Cornstarch needs to be boiled or else it will make your dish cloudy. Arrowroot is similar to cornstarch but comes from a root. Gellan is one of a kind. Unlike all other thickeners that break down with heat, gellan resists heat. Next time you want to serve your custard or jell-o in a flaming plate, use gellan.

Broth:

A broth is a stock. But with meat and bones. Or just meat.

You can use stocks to flavor soups, stews, make sauces, make dressings, etc. Stocks are sold, but, dont buy pre made stock.

Chicken stock contains chicken bones celery, onion, carrots, and maybe some aromatics like parsely. Bring those to a boil and skim the foam that forms. Then reduce to the lowest heat possible and let the magic happen, until it tastes like it’s ready. You can make a 30 minute stock or a 4 hour stock. Substitute any type of animal bones for that particular type of stock and feel free to play around with vegetables. Think of vegetables that will leave your both clear unless you’re trying to make beet stock. Strain the solids out when its done and store the stock in your fridge for no more than 5 days. Next time you make rice, soup, or a stew use your stock!

If your trying to to achieve a dark hearty broth, it is crucial to brown your ingredients by roasting first. Your bones, and vegetables can be coated with oil and roasted at high heat until they start to brown. Don’t worry if your onions char, that will give your broth an even deeper color. Go from the roasting pan to the pot of water. There are ways to get a highly flavorful, perfectly clear broth served sometimes by itself: Consomme. But we’ll talk about that soon.

 

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