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Reducing


chrisp
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Be wary of over-reducing. It's a way to get a nice consistency from gelatinous stock, but there are prices to pay. You lose a LOT of flavor, especially the subtler, brighter, more aromatic flavor compounds. And too much reduced gelatin can be gluey; it can stick your teeth together, and congeal on the plate before you're done eating.

i know i'm a little late to the party, but i would love it if someone could explain this to me? i know it's very common to reduce to concentrate flavors. so, what's the deal here? ; )

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i know i'm a little late to the party, but i would love it if someone could explain this to me?  i know it's very common to reduce to concentrate flavors.  so, what's the deal here?  ; )

Some of the flavors in a well-made stock are quite volatile: slamming it on high heat for a long time will concentrate the essential stock flavor (chicken, beef, etc.) but any subtleties added by herbs, etc. will be cooked away. Even some of the main flavor notes will change when cooked like this. It always pains me to have to reduce a chicken stock that I carefully attended for four or five hours, monitoring the flavors until it was just right. I should probably keep some "cheap and easy" stock on hand for those situations, but I never think to do so...

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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maybe this can help.... today my chef walks by a pot of boiling stock being reduced... and screams out "WHO DID THIS, YOU NEVER EVER EVER REDUCE A STOCK AT A BOIL, NEVER EVER!!" and then he continued walking out of the kitchen while at the same time mumbling, "never ever, never ever"

it was funny.. does that help...

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Some of the flavors in a well-made stock are quite volatile: slamming it on high heat for a long time will concentrate the essential stock flavor (chicken, beef, etc.) but any subtleties added by herbs, etc. will be cooked away. Even some of the main flavor notes will change when cooked like this. It always pains me to have to reduce a chicken stock that I carefully attended for four or five hours, monitoring the flavors until it was just right. I should probably keep some "cheap and easy" stock on hand for those situations, but I never think to do so...

One of the best compromise techniques I've seen from a number of sources (James Peterson, Paula Wolfert, Paul Bertolli, and no doubt others I'm forgetting) involves reducing the stock a ladle full at a time. If you are planning on reducing 3 cups of stock to 1/2 a cup, you begin with one cup in a pan, and reduce until you have a glaze on the pan. Before this glaze burns, moisten with another cup, and repeat the process. Moisten with yet another 1/2 cup, and reduce to a glaze again. Finally, finish with your final 1/2 cup. This final half cup will retain the more volatile flavor components, yet you have the concentration (and caramelization) of the previous reductions.

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Another tip (from Peterson I belive) is to "freshen up" the stock before serving (in whatever form you are going to serve it) with a handful of mirepoix and some fresh herbs which gets to simmer for a couple of minutes.

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I have been cooking from Michel Richard's book 'Happy in The Kitchen' (there is a thread about it in cooking) and here's a good tip for making a nice red wine sauce that reduces nicely. He uses a little sugar or honey and beets! Beets will add a nice subtle earhty taste, viscousity and color. At the same time I doubt there is any red wine sauce that does not benefit from them. Usually a small cubed potato goes in there as well in addition to shallots and other flavoring depending on the recipe.

Here is a dish from HitK sauced with the brasing liquid that included beets and red wine.

gallery_5404_94_162045.jpg

As for broth-sauces, they work great in lots of dishes, but they are no substitute for a glossy sauce.

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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When you are thickening with cornflour or arrowroot, what's the best way to do that? I read somewhere once that if you overboil cornflour, it actually loses the thickening effect that you achieve when you first boil it. (haven't read much about arrowroot at all, though i have some and have heard it's good for thickening).

I am imagining you would just dissolve a small amount in a little water and add it towards the end, and not bring the stock back to a hearty boil after that point...?

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You definitely want to add the corn starch at the end, but it won't lose it's thickening effect in any dramatic way if you boil it for a while. Also you want to boil it for at least a little while to get it smoth and glossy. Cornstarch doesn't have the raw starch taste of of ordinary flour but it still needs to be coked a little bit.

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