Auguste Escoffier, the father of modern French cooking, on which almost all other cooking techniques derives from, said, “Indeed stock is everything in cooking. Without it, nothing can be done.”
The French call it fond which literally means base. I find this translation particularly accurate when it comes to the importance of stock in cooking, it provides a strong base to all our cooking. Think of it as the beam on a house which provides support to the roof or the floor of the building.
Stock – sometimes referred to as bone broth – doesn’t only contribute to that haute-quality cooking, it also accords numerous benefits to our health; in fact, there has been a trend lately where culinary world social media personalities have been promoting its consumption.
Due to the slow cooking , the stock gets collagen from the bones and amino acids which are both crucial for our wellbeing. These and many other vitamins from the stock help boost our immune system, clears the skin, aids in soothing cold /flu symptoms, among other things.
With all these benefits I would strongly advocate that each home starts having some stock and incorporate it their daily cooking when possible, the long slow cooking is worth all the hustle.
Stock can be made from animal bones, fish or vegetables, the time to which it is cooks differs depending on the bones used.
Beef takes longer approximately 4-6 hours sometimes cooked overnight, chicken 2-4 hours, while fish and vegetables should not exceed 45 minutes.
To make a stock one needs what is known as mirepoix: a combination of carrots, onions and celery stalks.
However, stalks are not easily available to us here in Rwanda so I went ahead and experimented without it and guess what! It was equally great. I also didn’t have peppercorns in my pantry, so I used the freshly grounded one. This is the modified recipe I used.
1 kg beef bones*
5 carrots (big)
4 onions (big)
2 liters (approx.) water
2 bay leaves
Parsley stems (a few)
*(I got these from the market at Rfw 800/kg)
- Wash the bones thoroughly, then in a large pot, put the clean bones and add cold water.
- Bring it to a boil and use a spoon to skim out the scum ( foamy substance) that appears on top – make sure you get rid of as much as you can.
- Drain that water and start with new water (cold) and bring to a boil. Once it boils decrease the heat to the lowest possible: you should only see small bubbles from this point on. (Tip: If you want a dark color stock , at the point before you return it to the water, first roast it in the oven for about 45 minutes).
- 1 hour later, add the rest of the ingredients and keep removing the scum as it comes up through-out the process
- After about 4 to 6 hours of simmering, remove the stock and strain it for later usage.
Note: To achieve a rich dark-brown color, I roast the bones in the oven for 45 minutes; it helps with getting rid of extra grease from the bones as well! Feel free to do this extra step if you have the time.
10 tomatoes (large)
1 onions (medium)
3 garlic cloves
3 cups beef stock
1 cup water
1 tbs oil
- Sauté the onion and garlic, then add the peeled tomatoes and let them soften.
- Add the stock, and season with salt and pepper.
- Simmer for 45 minutes on low heat.
- Serve with bread or eat as it is!
Other uses of stock
As shown above, I used the stock to make some comforting tomato soup and (with the extra I prepared), a fancy brown sauce espagnole that can be served over any kind of meat. I specifically plan to have it with black pepper-and-salt chicken breast paired with mashed potatoes… Yum!!
There are plenty of recipes that call for stock and here are some suggestions:
- Braised chicken : After browning the chicken, put it in a saucepan and add stock instead of water. Simmer for an hour to get a tender and delicious meal.
- Rice: To elevate the taste of rice, use half water and half stock. Popular rice dishes that uses stock include, pilaf and paella but you can also do this with your favorite rice recipe.
- Glazed carrots: These are made by briefly sautéing the carrots in butter and glazing them with honey and stock, to be served as a side dish.
- Velouté sauce: If you need to make one of the five mother sauces (we shall cover these soon) use butter and flour (roux) and add the white stock to get the velvety, silky sauce that can be served with poultry.
Follow this skill and a few others that have been mentioned in my earlier articles, to turn your cooking from ‘average’, to a master-chef-worthy craft that will earn you endless compliments at the dinner table!