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Q&A for Stocks and Sauces Class - Unit 1 Day1


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#1 eGCI Team

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Posted 31 July 2003 - 01:18 PM

Please use this thread to post any questions for the stocks and stock-based sauces instructors, Fat Guy and Carolyn Tillie.

#2 JohnnyH

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Posted 31 July 2003 - 03:29 PM

Thanks for the great intro, I'm looking forward to brushing up on technique with you next week. Question, though: is there a point when we might be able to add a shrimp or fish stock to the syllabus?
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#3 Jonathan Day

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Posted 31 July 2003 - 03:47 PM

Thanks for a great introduction to stockmaking.

Will you be covering clarification of stocks?

Here in the UK -- I don't know whether this can be done elsewhere -- an inexpensive way to get chickens for stock is to go to a Halal butcher and buy "boiling chickens". They cost, on average, £1 apiece; I have had them for as little as 50p apiece by buying 5 at a time. They come with head and feet (the feet add a lot of gelatin to the stock) and are mostly skin, bone and beak. Perfect for stock.

What a fine start to the eGCI!
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#4 Fat Guy

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Posted 31 July 2003 - 03:54 PM

Thanks for the great intro, I'm looking forward to brushing up on technique with you next week.  Question, though: is there a point when we might be able to add a shrimp or fish stock to the syllabus?

Johnny, given the number of stockpots people are likely to have and the need to cover approximately 60 units of coursework in the next two months, we deprioritized fish and shellfish stocks for the time being. They were in the original lesson plan but I rapidly realized it would be impractical to have people in typically equipped home kitchens create and process four different stocks in two days. I'd be happy to do two things, however:

1 - At the end of the stock and stock-based-sauce units (next Wednesday), after all the immediate questions have been answered and we're moving on to the next area of coursework, if you'd like to reintroduce this subject I'll talk a bit about how to repurpose the techniques we've covered so as to create fish and shellfish stocks. (You'll find that, for example, creating a shellfish stock is procedurally almost exactly the same as creating a brown beef or veal stock, with just a few ingredients changes, and creating a fish stock isn't far from creating a white poultry stock except again the ingredients are different and it happens much more quickly).

2 - When the whole eGCI curriculum is done, if there is interest in an advanced unit on fish and shellfish stocks and their derivative sauces, we can put something together subject to popular demand and the approval of the eGCI project coordinators.

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#5 bloviatrix

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Posted 31 July 2003 - 04:01 PM

What are your thoughts on using chicken necks for stock?
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#6 Fat Guy

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Posted 31 July 2003 - 04:03 PM

Will you be covering clarification of stocks?

Not in these coursework units. It's possible that in a later sauce or technique unit, another instructor will be covering clarification, consommes, royales, etc., but the course outlines where that might be included are still under development so I won't make any promises on anyone else's behalf.

Of course, the eGCI can never be comprehensive, and we have to prioritize, but throughout the eGCI the instructors will provide outside references for those who want to pursue various offshoots of the coursework. So now might be a good time to comment that there is really one book that overshadows all others I know of on the subject of saucemaking, and that is Sauces : Classical and Contemporary Sauce Making, by James Peterson. I highly recommend this readable, intelligent, comprehensive tome to anyone who wants to branch out beyond what we're going to have time to offer here.

Here in the UK -- I don't know whether this can be done elsewhere -- an inexpensive way to get chickens for stock is to go to a Halal butcher and buy "boiling chickens".  They cost, on average, £1 apiece; I have had them for as little as 50p apiece by buying 5 at a time. They come with head and feet (the feet add a lot of gelatin to the stock) and are mostly skin, bone and beak.  Perfect for stock.


Excellent tip and much appreciated. We have mostly US-based instructors and would very much appreciate it if our international users would contribute local equivalents and variants when we post our ingredients lists.

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#7 Fat Guy

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Posted 31 July 2003 - 04:09 PM

What are your thoughts on using chicken necks for stock?

I've often thrown necks, feet, backs, and frames into the stockpot. Pretty much any part of the chicken save for strongly flavored offal (e.g., the liver) will be a useful addition to the stock (you also should avoid too much unnecessary skin and fat, as they contribute mostly . . . fat). I can't say how a stock will work out if you use necks exclusively, though!

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#8 Marlene

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Posted 31 July 2003 - 06:24 PM

Does stock freeze well? Any particular things to be aware of when freezing stock?
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#9 Fat Guy

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Posted 31 July 2003 - 06:34 PM

Does stock freeze well?  Any particular things to be aware of when freezing stock?

It freezes superbly and efficiently. After we go through the basic stockmaking, straining, defatting, and reducing procedures, I'll be presenting a few tips on storage.

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#10 JAZ

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Posted 31 July 2003 - 08:36 PM

Great introduction. Will you be discussing the salt issue at all? The reason I ask is that I've noticed that with chicken stock, at least, the addition of a little bit of salt seems to make for a deeper, more complex flavor that can't be duplicated by adding salt later.

#11 Fat Guy

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Posted 31 July 2003 - 08:58 PM

Salt definitely makes for a more complex flavor, but I have not personally found the addition of salt during the endgame to be problematic. Certainly, if you make a salt-free dish and salt it at the table -- say, a soup -- the salt will not properly integrate and will simply provide a salty flavor rather than perform the flavor-enhancing function of salt. However, though I'm not totally up on the chemistry of how salt combines with liquid over time, I don't believe this flavor-enhancing function depends on hours and hours of simmering. A few minutes seem to do the trick, at least that has been my casual observation. There may be additional functions of salt as well, however. For example, there may be chemical processes that occur during the cooking-and-extraction phase of stockmaking that are aided or accelerated by salt. I couldn't say for sure.

But for me the bigger issue is that if you put salt in your stock, it can become problematic when you later reduce it to the level of a demi-glace or glace. Since our goal here is to create multi-purpose "blank slate" stocks, the recommendation is to make them effectively salt-free. Of course there is some sodium in them anyway, from the naturally occurring sodium in the raw ingredients and in the case of the brown stock from the tomato paste. Those levels of natural sodium -- unless the molecules are somehow bound up and unavailable -- may very well permit whatever chemical processes, if any, might add a unique flavor due to the operation of salt during the cooking process. But I would advise against the addition of any salt beyond that during the stockmaking phase.

It's my belief -- and this runs counter to the stockmaking instructions in some books -- that an exceptional and complex stock requires a lot of simmering time. I simmer my stocks for around 12 hours, usually overnight. At that point, after 12 hours of reaction, it's hard for me to imagine that there's anything left to extract or react with that salt would have affected. Perhaps the effect of salt would be more pronounced in a stock simmered for less time; perhaps it speeds extraction or something along those lines. Another time, I will do some taste tests and report back. If we have any food chemist types in the house, perhaps they can comment as well.

Carolyn will talk more about salt than I, because she's handling the actual saucemaking part of the lesson. But I will be presenting three recipes at the end, and one thing I encourage people to notice is that in two of them I advise adding salt at several points during the recipe instead of at any one point. I find this to be an issue on which so many cookbooks are inadequate. One of the most frequent recipe instructions in cookbooks is "salt to taste." But what does that mean? In a simple recipe for sauteed onions, for example, does one add the salt at the beginning, during cooking, or at the end? In the opinion of many professional chefs, and in my opinion, the answer is all three: Add the salt bit by bit throughout cooking and, thanks to the magic of the chemistry of salt, the results will be definitely more flavorful yet possibly less overtly salty than if you had dumped in all the salt at once.

By the way, just so I'm sure we're on the same page, when you say "the addition of a little bit of salt," how much are you talking about adding to, say, a 16-quart stockpot? I doubt there would be any harm to adding, say, a teaspoon or a tablespoon to that much stock. But if you're talking about more than that, I would strongly advise against it because it will potentially limit the versatility of the stock in high-ratio reductions later on.

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#12 Varmint

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Posted 01 August 2003 - 01:16 AM

I recall Craig Camp making a big distinction between broth and stock with respect to making risotto. Is this a distinction without a difference?
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#13 zilla369

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Posted 01 August 2003 - 06:17 AM

FG, in my experience at school and at work there are two diametrically opposed schools of thought on the use of vs the NON-use of tomato paste when making a brown stock. Will you be addressing this issue in the lesson?
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#14 Busboy

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Posted 01 August 2003 - 06:53 AM

Not sure from earlier in the thread if you're covering non-stock-based sauces, but my question concerns cream sauces (to which I often add stock, if that makes me more relevant).

Why do cream sauces break soemtimes and sometimes not? I'll make the same sauce exactly the same way, so it seems -- for example, sweating shallots and garlic, cooking the alcohol out of wine and reducing it, letting the pan cool, adding cream and bringing it to a boil, to be finished with stock, herbs or whatever. One time it wil break into a grainy mess, the next time it will be sublime. What am I missing? Or is that just the nature of the beast?
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#15 Ruth

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Posted 01 August 2003 - 07:01 AM

I shall be reading through the whole course as I make a huge batch of demiglace, enough to fill a freezer shelf, every three months or so. Recently I have been wondering whether the difference in flavor between a traditional demiglace and one made from duck and chicken is great enough to require having both on hand. Another point concerns how much meat, as opposed to mere bones, one should use. I have started using a lot of meat in my stocks, generally using a whole veal breast in addition to the bones for my veal stock. This sounds extravagant but I think the complexity and richness of the final product make it worth while. Finally, how much should we strain? I know that classically a stock had to be strained to the clarity of a consommé and obviously one has to strain. But don't you feel that flavor is lost every time one strains? I no longer strain through a cheese cloth. Does this make me a sinner?
All that said I know I am going to enjoy these courses.
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#16 snowangel

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Posted 01 August 2003 - 07:28 AM

I make chicken stock far more often than beef stock. When I want a cut up chicken (for another purpose), I always cut them up myself, and put the back, neck, etc. into the freezer. Likewise, on the occasion that I want a boneless chicken breast, I bone my own and freeze the bones.

So, when I am ready to make stock, I am less likely to use a whole chicken than I am to get thighs and/or thigh leg quarters (often only $.29/lb here). Is there a reason to use chicken breast in the stock? I often also add a few chicken feet since they are readily available.

And, can you please address chopping bones? Should one whack those legs in half to release what is in the bones?
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#17 Carolyn Tillie

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Posted 01 August 2003 - 07:50 AM

I recall Craig Camp making a big distinction between broth and stock with respect to making risotto.  Is this a distinction without a difference?

I did a search for the comment and only found Craig Camp's discussion about Italian broth cubes and his lament for not having canned broths.

I believe a general distinction is that "broth" tends to be flavored with potential aromatics (herbs, salt, etc). One can drink or have a bowl of broth.

Stocks tend to be the basis from which broth is made -- entirely salt- and herb-free.

#18 Carolyn Tillie

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Posted 01 August 2003 - 07:53 AM

FG, in my experience at school and at work there are two diametrically opposed schools of thought on the use of vs the NON-use of tomato paste when making a brown stock.  Will you be addressing this issue in the lesson?

FG is travelling today so I am fielding comments today on this... He will probably weigh-in (no pun intended) and possibly have different thoughts than mine but...

Yes, we both have commented on the use of tomato paste in brown sauces and, coincidentally, WE BOTH USE IT!

Fat Guy had a different method than mine (he puts it in directly, I use the paste to paint the bones during their browning).

I am very curious why there would be such opposition to tomato paste and would be curious for further discussion as to why not to use it.

#19 slkinsey

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Posted 01 August 2003 - 07:54 AM

FG, I was interested to read in your article that you enjoy eating the chicken and beef meat left over after making your stocks -- especially since you favor such long simmering (a practice with which I concur). Don't you find that the meat has given up just about all of its flavor to the stock and is insipid and flavorless?

Also, I am curious as to your thoughts on using the carcasses of roasted poultry for stock making (i.e., using the bones from the Thanksgiving turkey to make turkey stock, etc.). I have found that I prefer the result from starting with raw bones -- even if I do end up roasting them to make a brown stock -- rather than already cooked bones.



Thinking of stocks... it might be fun to pick up a cotechino, zampone, tongue, capon, etc. and do an eGullet bollito misto in the fall.
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#20 Carolyn Tillie

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Posted 01 August 2003 - 08:00 AM

Not sure from earlier in the thread if you're covering non-stock-based sauces, but my question concerns cream sauces (to which I often add stock, if that makes me more relevant). 

Why do cream sauces break soemtimes and sometimes not?  I'll make the same sauce exactly the same way, so it seems -- for example, sweating shallots and garlic, cooking the alcohol out of wine and reducing it, letting the pan cool, adding cream and bringing it to a boil, to be finished with stock, herbs or whatever.  One time it wil break into a grainy mess, the next time it will be sublime.  What am I missing?  Or is that just the nature of the beast?

All those questions -- and more -- will be covered in the sauce-making section. I would ask that you re-post those questions in that section when it gets started on Monday.

Quickly, however, that "breaking" of a sauce is the butter going out of emulsion and can often happen by having too little or too much heat. The general fix is to add more liquid and bring them all to the same temperature. You mentioned it exactly, "letting the pan cool." It is a differentiation in temperature and as you become increasingly more aware of when a sauce DOES break versus when it does not, you will notice the heat at which you are working.

#21 Carolyn Tillie

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Posted 01 August 2003 - 08:06 AM

I shall be reading through the whole course as I make a huge batch of demiglace, enough to fill a freezer shelf, every three months or so. Recently I have been wondering whether the difference in flavor between a traditional demiglace and one made from duck and chicken is great enough to require having both on hand. Another point concerns how much meat, as opposed to mere bones, one should use. I have started using a lot of meat in my stocks, generally using a whole veal breast in addition to the bones for my veal stock. This sounds extravagant but I think the complexity and richness of the final product make it worth while. Finally, how much should we strain? I know that classically a stock had to be strained to the clarity of a consommé and obviously one has to strain. But don't you feel that flavor is lost every time one strains? I no longer strain through a cheese cloth. Does this make me a sinner?
All that said I know I am going to enjoy these courses.

I am a firm believer in a difference between chicken and duck stocks (and demi-glace) and still make both myself.

I do not believe that meat adds much flavor at all in stocks. In the book Ruhlman's book Making of a Chef (I believe), it is Thomas Keller who discusses boiling the bones several times to remove meat and blood to get a clearer stock. There is considerable fat in that meat and I believe the "complexity and richness" you are perceiving is in the fat (remember, a well-marbled steak is more flavorful than a lean one). I do not believe that flavor is lost in the strain at all -- much of what remains in the strained 'muck' is now flavorless. With proper stock-making, the flavor should be in the broth, not in the remnants. The next time you make stock, take a piece of your mirepoix (a carrot, for example), and take a bite out of it. It should be quite flavorless.

I don't think that not straining through cheesecloth make you a sinner, per se, but I would reconsider it. Do an experiment! Take a cup of cheesecloth-strained stock and non-cheesecloth strained stock. Reduce it to a demi-glace and taste it. I might be wrong...

#22 Carolyn Tillie

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Posted 01 August 2003 - 08:10 AM

I make chicken stock far more often than beef stock.  When I want a cut up chicken (for another purpose), I always cut them up myself, and put the back, neck, etc. into the freezer.  Likewise, on the occasion that I want a boneless chicken breast, I bone my own and freeze the bones.

So, when I am ready to make stock, I am less likely to use a whole chicken than I am to get thighs and/or thigh leg quarters (often only $.29/lb here).  Is there a reason to use chicken breast in the stock?  I often also add a few chicken feet since they are readily available.

And, can you please address chopping bones?  Should one whack those legs in half to release what is in the bones?

I think your procedure is just fine. In Fat Guy's course, he shows the stock-making procedure with full chickens but as I just mentioned, I don't believe that the added meat really adds that much flavor (there might be quite a discussion on this one). Like you, I save bones and rarely use meat in my stock-making. Also, I do hack the bones in half to get out the gelatine within the bones. Maybe something in my genetics makes me do that...

#23 Dave the Cook

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Posted 01 August 2003 - 08:15 AM

Not sure from earlier in the thread if you're covering non-stock-based sauces, but my question concerns cream sauces (to which I often add stock, if that makes me more relevant). 

Why do cream sauces break soemtimes and sometimes not?  I'll make the same sauce exactly the same way, so it seems -- for example, sweating shallots and garlic, cooking the alcohol out of wine and reducing it, letting the pan cool, adding cream and bringing it to a boil, to be finished with stock, herbs or whatever.  One time it wil break into a grainy mess, the next time it will be sublime.  What am I missing?  Or is that just the nature of the beast?

All those questions -- and more -- will be covered in the sauce-making section. I would ask that you re-post those questions in that section when it gets started on Monday.

Quickly, however, that "breaking" of a sauce is the butter going out of emulsion and can often happen by having too little or too much heat. The general fix is to add more liquid and bring them all to the same temperature. You mentioned it exactly, "letting the pan cool." It is a differentiation in temperature and as you become increasingly more aware of when a sauce DOES break versus when it does not, you will notice the heat at which you are working.

Carolyn is right -- it is possible to learn the signs, and to gauge the temperature of your mixture; this is simply a matter of sufficient experience and careful observation.

But to be specific, if you keep your emulsion between 100 F and 130 F, you'll be able to whisk in all the butter you want. Literally.

edit: sorry if I stepped on any toes, Carolyn. I promise to sit in the back of the room and be quiet from now on.

Edited by Dave the Cook, 01 August 2003 - 08:20 AM.

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#24 Carolyn Tillie

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Posted 01 August 2003 - 08:23 AM

FG, I was interested to read in your article that you enjoy eating the chicken and beef meat left over after making your stocks -- especially since you favor such long simmering (a practice with which I concur).  Don't you find that the meat has given up just about all of its flavor to the stock and is insipid and flavorless?

Also, I am curious as to your thoughts on using the carcasses of roasted poultry for stock making (i.e., using the bones from the Thanksgiving turkey to make turkey stock, etc.).  I have found that I prefer the result from starting with raw bones -- even if I do end up roasting them to make a brown stock -- rather than already cooked bones.



Thinking of stocks... it might be fun to pick up a cotechino, zampone, tongue, capon, etc. and do an eGullet bollito misto in the fall.

As I indicated before, FG is travelling today so I'll be anxious to await his response to this. It surprised me as well... There have been occasions when I boil a chicken to get the chicken meat, but I have rarely found the subsequent meat flavorful enough to warrant eating (I will use it to make cat food).

Regarding the use of carcasses, I have been scouring my books for the French term of this procedure. It has something to do with "twice cooked" but I can't recall the exact term. I also enjoy making stock from a cooked bird and will, in fact, sometimes put the carcass back into the oven to roast the bones even further for a deeper, richer, roasted poultry stock. In fact, I will ALWAYS save my bones from any duck I buy and cook as there is nothing better than ROASTED duck stock.

#25 Carolyn Tillie

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Posted 01 August 2003 - 08:38 AM

Not sure from earlier in the thread if you're covering non-stock-based sauces, but my question concerns cream sauces (to which I often add stock, if that makes me more relevant). 

Why do cream sauces break soemtimes and sometimes not?  I'll make the same sauce exactly the same way, so it seems -- for example, sweating shallots and garlic, cooking the alcohol out of wine and reducing it, letting the pan cool, adding cream and bringing it to a boil, to be finished with stock, herbs or whatever.  One time it wil break into a grainy mess, the next time it will be sublime.  What am I missing?  Or is that just the nature of the beast?

All those questions -- and more -- will be covered in the sauce-making section. I would ask that you re-post those questions in that section when it gets started on Monday.

Quickly, however, that "breaking" of a sauce is the butter going out of emulsion and can often happen by having too little or too much heat. The general fix is to add more liquid and bring them all to the same temperature. You mentioned it exactly, "letting the pan cool." It is a differentiation in temperature and as you become increasingly more aware of when a sauce DOES break versus when it does not, you will notice the heat at which you are working.

Carolyn is right -- it is possible to learn the signs, and to gauge the temperature of your mixture; this is simply a matter of sufficient experience and careful observation.

But to be specific, if you keep your emulsion between 100 F and 130 F, you'll be able to whisk in all the butter you want. Literally.

edit: sorry if I stepped on any toes, Carolyn. I promise to sit in the back of the room and be quiet from now on.

Gads, No! I appreciate it, especially since I never remember specific like temperature! It is all about feel for me and any comments you care to make will be most welcome...

#26 Sandra Levine

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Posted 01 August 2003 - 09:25 AM

I believe a general distinction is that "broth" tends to be flavored with potential aromatics (herbs, salt, etc). One can drink or have a bowl of broth.

Stocks tend to be the basis from which broth is made -- entirely salt- and herb-free.

Stock is also much more heavily reduced than broth.

#27 zilla369

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Posted 01 August 2003 - 09:50 AM

FG, in my experience at school and at work there are two diametrically opposed schools of thought on the use of vs the NON-use of tomato paste when making a brown stock.  Will you be addressing this issue in the lesson?

FG is travelling today so I am fielding comments today on this... He will probably weigh-in (no pun intended) and possibly have different thoughts than mine but...

Yes, we both have commented on the use of tomato paste in brown sauces and, coincidentally, WE BOTH USE IT!

Fat Guy had a different method than mine (he puts it in directly, I use the paste to paint the bones during their browning).

I am very curious why there would be such opposition to tomato paste and would be curious for further discussion as to why not to use it.

I just phoned the chef instructor i remember as having been the most adamant about not using tomato paste when making a brown stock. I wanted to be sure i was clear on what his reason for this stance was.

His answer was much the same as the "tabula rasa" reasoning FG gave for not adding salt to a basic stock. He said that when reducing to a glace or demi, sometimes the tomato tends to lend a certain bitterness to a glace. Also, he doesn't like the color it seems to bring to sauces - and a lot of tomato pastes include artificial color.

I will say that this guy makes the most beautiful clear brown jewel-toned stocks, glaces and sauces, even without clearmeat clarification, so i tend to side with him.

On the other side of the fence, what's the justification for using tomato paste? I assume it's either to heighten the carmelization process of the roasted bones, or that an acidic substance in stock can hasten the extraction of gelatin?

Edited by zilla369, 01 August 2003 - 09:51 AM.

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#28 SobaAddict70

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Posted 01 August 2003 - 10:38 AM

There's nothing stopping anyone from making their own tomato paste.

Of course, of course. :huh:

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#29 SethG

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Posted 01 August 2003 - 12:15 PM

I don't own a 16 or a 20 quart pot and I'm not about to go and get one. Do you think it would be practical to make a half batch (8 quarts) of chicken stock? I realize that this will reduce to just one quart, but that's one more quart than I have now. Will I risk too much reduction and burning (or anything else) by cutting the volume in half and leaving it on the stovetop overnight?

Also, I happen to have saved up some chicken backs (and a few wings) in my freezer over the past few weeks just for the purpose of making stock. I was going to make it based on a recipe in one cookbook or another-- then I came upon the miracle that is the eGCI. I think I know your answer on this, Carolyn, and it may be different from the Fat Guy's, but I'm wondering if the backs will be sufficient or whether I should go out and buy some other chicken parts (i.e., thighs) if I want a good stock.
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#30 Jonathan Day

Jonathan Day
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Posted 01 August 2003 - 12:17 PM

FG, I was interested to read in your article that you enjoy eating the chicken and beef meat left over after making your stocks -- especially since you favor such long simmering (a practice with which I concur).  Don't you find that the meat has given up just about all of its flavor to the stock and is insipid and flavorless?

My guess is that when FG makes stock from whole chickens, he simmers the chickens just until the meat is properly poached, in which case it should be tender and flavourful, then takes the chickens out of the proto-stock, cools them a bit, and removes the best of the meat: breasts, thighs, etc. The carcases can then go back into the stockpot, and the pot back onto the fire, leaving you with poached chicken meat for salads, sandwiches and other cold preparations.

Once a chicken has been simmered for an appropriately long period (I do mine overnight, in the oven of an Aga cooker), its meat should be virtually flavourless. And I'm guessing that FG wouldn't settle for that.
Jonathan Day
"La cuisine, c'est quand les choses ont le go�t de ce qu'elles sont."