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Q&A for Simmering the Basic Stocks - Unit 2 Day 2

120 posts in this topic

Can you recommend some alternative aromatic vegetables to use? Would fennel or mushrooms work?

When I did the shopping for the lesson, I actually bought a fennel bulb. It's one of my favorite aromatic vegetables for stockmaking, and in particular I consider it almost essential to a good shellfish stock. Ultimately, I decided against using it because it didn't fit with the way I outlined the class, so you'll see it used as a leftover in one of the recipes at the end of Unit 3.

Mushrooms are a bit trickier. I wouldn't put them in with the mirepoix in a long-simmered stock. I'd only add them at the late stages if you specifically wanted a mushroomy flavor. You can also use the (well strained) liquid from soaking dried mushrooms -- an excellent use of this byproduct.

Leeks are a milder alternative to onions and are especially useful in fish stocks when you want mildness. Parsnips can pinch hit for carrots and will help keep a stock whiter.

In Asian-style stocks, garlic, ginger, star anise, and other aromatics from that culinary style can be added. And of course you can add just about any herb or whole unground spice, especially if you're trying to enhance a flavor you ultimately plan to use in a finished dish or sauce.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
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G2, did you taste those samples? Notice anything?

Yep - in the first two the mirepoix was dominant. In the first one, I picked up mostly celery, the second one a more general "veggie" taste with the onions being distinct. The last sample tasted the way I expected the completed stock to taste - the mirepoix was still there, but as part of a far more complex flavour.

The moral of the story being that if you want a vegetable stock with clear vegetable flavors, you should do a short simmer, and if you want a classic full-bodied meaty-tasting stock with serious thickening power you should do a long simmer!


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
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There's also no question that there will be a ton more gelatin in a 12-hour stock than a 3-hour one. I don't know how we'd measure the amounts without special instruments, though.

To approximate a quantitative measurement, dissolve specific weights of gelatin in specific volumes of water, measure their setup times and create a spreadsheet.

Then deposit similar amounts of each sample into identical containers, time how long it takes each to set up (though some will not set up at all), and compare to your spreadsheet.

Edit: a really interesting project would be to graph gelatin development over time.


Dave Scantland
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On the Unit 1 Q&A thread, there was a great post about the science of all this, and one of the points made -- which reconciles entirely with my experience -- is that there's a Maillard reaction that occurs continuously throughout stockmaking.

Thanks. I think that was my post, and was a little discouraged as no one took it up.

I'll try and get something done as input for the Kitchen Science unit. It should certainly cover Maillard reactions, at least in outline - I don't think anyone really understands the fine details.


Edited by jackal10 (log)

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I think that was my post, and was a little discouraged as no one took it up.

As I'm particularly weak on the scientific details of all this stuff, additional science-oriented information is always appreciated. I don't think you'll get much direct reaction to it -- the idea of these threads is to answer questions rather than engage in too much crosstalk -- but people are surely glad to read those enhancements to the lesson material, as am I. Thanks.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
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1) I notice that you trimmed the leaves off the celery. I've always thought they were the most aromatic part. Is there a reason you took them off?

2) Regarding the browning of the bones, is there any benefit to browning them in a non-stick pan and deglazing? Or is this not worth the effort/clean up?

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1) I've never actually tested the instructions, but I've read in several places that the leaves make the stock bitter. So I remove them. I don't have any of my reference books with me on the road right now, so perhaps someone will pull some quotes on this point and post them. A quick online search reveals plenty of language like:

Celery leaves, especially those on the outside of the bunch, are extremely bitter and should not be added to the stock. Remove and discard these leaves from the celery stalks.

http://www.allrecipes.com/cb/sbs/vegstock/default.asp

2) I don't bother to do it, but deglazing and adding that product to your stock certainly a way to give your stock additional color and nutty flavor quickly -- provided you don't acually burn the stuff. (You can also deglaze and make a sauce for something else.) Just be sure to remove as much fat as possible from the pan before you do it. And if you're going to deglaze, don't use a non-stick pan. It doesn't develop crusty pan grech as nicely as stainless.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
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Why is it you never see pork stock?? Is it because it is too fatty?? Not much flavor in the bones?? Or maybe too much over powering flavor??

FM


E. Nassar
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Just be sure to remove as much fat as possible from the pan before you do it.

Inquiry, not temerity:

Why bother to defat in advance if you're just going to defat the whole thing later? I've even found it easier to remove the fat really thoroughly if there's a nice thick layer on top.

I seem to recall Sally Schneider (New Way to Cook) suggesting that cooking liquids with lots of fat, then defatting them adds to the mouthfeel and even taste.

Unrelated question: I thought browning reactions required temperatures higher than 200 F. If we are cooking at ~180, are we foregoing the browning reactions entirely? Or is our low simmer hotter than than that?

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Why bother to defat in advance if you're just going to defat the whole thing later? I've even found it easier to remove the fat really thoroughly if there's a nice thick layer on top.

Primarily because the fat left over after oven-roasting beef/veal bones is rather unpleasant. Take a good whiff next time and tell me if you want that in your stock! As for raw fat, sure, if you keep the simmer slow, it mostly won't emulsify into the mixture and can be removed later. But on occasion I don't have time to refrigerate my stock for several hours before defatting it, in which case I like to have as little fat as possible in there because I know I'm going to miss some when I defat with a pitcher. In terms of improved mouthfeel from simmering with fat and then removing it, I don't know why that would be unless some of the fat is staying behind, but maybe it is so -- I don't have that information. The thing is, if some of that additional fat is left behind (and I suspect despite best efforts some of it usually will be), your stock will still be great as a soup base but it may not be as effective and clean-tasting when heavily reduced and used as a sauce base.

Unrelated question: I thought browning reactions required temperatures higher than 200 F. If we are cooking at ~180, are we foregoing the browning reactions entirely? Or is our low simmer hotter than than that?

I believe a proper stockmaking simmer (which is probably, technically, closer to a slow boil than a real simmer like you'd do with a braised dish) is roughly 200-205 degrees average, more or a little less depending if you measure at the top or bottom of the pot. The trick when getting your simmering speed set is to make sure you're getting some slow-boil-type behavior in places on the surface of the liquid, but that other areas are calm. This allows the fat to collect in the calm areas. If the whole surface is turbulent, the fat will emulsify into the liquid (I think I'm using the term emulsify correctly here, but maybe not) and won't be removable later without the aid of a plasma physicist and six billion dollars worth of special equipment.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
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Why is it you never see pork stock?? Is it because it is too fatty?? Not much flavor in the bones?? Or maybe too much over powering flavor??

Pork stock is very common in Asian cooking, and it's also used in Western cooking -- it's just not as prevalent as beef/veal and poultry stocks. I think if you eat in fine-dining restaurants you're eating more pork stock than you might think. Restaurants don't typically list their sauce bases and braising liquids on the menu, but once you hit a certain level of restaurant it's a safe bet that they're using pork stock in their pork dishes -- and maybe other dishes too -- either as a braising liquid, marinade, or sauce base. You'll also note, in the Escoffier recipes for stock that Jackal10 posted in the Unit 1 thread, there's plenty of pork in the classic recipes.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
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Unrelated question: I thought browning reactions required temperatures higher than 200 F. If we are cooking at ~180, are we foregoing the browning reactions entirely? Or is our low simmer hotter than than that?

Maillard reactions are complex and depend on temperature and ph (acidity) . Its not either/or. Below 200F they go much slower, but they do occur. There is experimental data showing it occuring as low as 60C/140F, especailly in an alkaline environment like stock

Also if the stock is at a slow simmer parts of it (near the heat source) will be, by definition, at at about boiling - 212F or slightly greater because of the pressure, or you won't get the bubbles an surface movement.

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It's too late to do anything about it now, but:

I am currently simmering chicken stock. Here's a picture from about 20 minutes ago (my first picture post to eGullet):

stockstudent1.jpg

I am using an 8 Qt. pot.

My question is this: my stock is a mixture of a couple chicken backs and wings from my freezer, and a (not frozen) pack of four whole drumstick/thighs. Last night, I forgot to take the backs out of the freezer. And tonight, when I started the stock, I figured, what the hell, they'll thaw out fast enough in the simmering pot. And I went ahead and threw them in. I'm planning to simmer as long as I can stay awake tonight, probably for a total of 6 or 7 hours. I figure the frozen stuff will have no effect.

Am I right? Or have I done something bad? It all looks good. And I pulled out a bunch, but not all, of the meat from the legs and made some nice dark meat chicken salad for dinner. It was mighty tasty. And all thanks to the miracle that is the eGCI.


Edited by Fat Guy (log)

"I don't mean to brag, I don't mean to boast;

but we like hot butter on our breakfast toast!"

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You're good, not bad. And your stock looks great!

Thanks for posting that photo.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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The smell filling the kitchen is also highly evocative for any Jew... and I'm sure for people of many different cultures, but from my Jewish perspective, I'm tempted to just strain the sucker now, throw in some matzo balls and call it a night!


"I don't mean to brag, I don't mean to boast;

but we like hot butter on our breakfast toast!"

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Go all the way to the end of the stockmaking process, then add about a quart of that stuff to your next batch of matzoh ball soup. You'll be ready to convert to whatever religion French people are.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
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I seem to recall Sally Schneider (New Way to Cook) suggesting that cooking liquids with lots of fat, then defatting them adds to the mouthfeel and even taste.

OK, terrible mistake: it was not Sally Schneider, but Paula Wolfert in Cooking of SW France who wrote:

If you remove absolutely all the fat from a dish, there will indeed be a loss of flavor. To compensate, I often degrease, then add more fat for more flavor, cook the dish some more, then degrease again. I call this technique "double degreasing"
She is talking about braises, in which these fats are added to (already defatted) stock, but I don't see why it wouldn't also apply to stock itself. She also says:
According to our latest scientific knowledge, the ingredients that give flavor to fat are in fact water soluble -- they can be separated from the fat itself.
Presumably she means that the hydrophilic heads of lipid molecules a) provide the flavor, and b) can be severed from the hydrocarbon chains, which is where the calories are. Does anyone know of more recent "latest scientific knowledge" about this? Maybe we should cook up some light sweet crude as an experiment?

By the way, this class is fascinating. I have been making stock for years but I am learning a lot from this. Thank you FG, Carolyn, and commentators.

And I vote for a food science class, or at least a Maillard reaction thread.

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Great info Badthings -- you and Jackal should be contacting Dave the Cook about food-science stuff, since you're obviously in a position to be helpful in building that lesson.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
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maybe a bit of a foolish question but when the stock is simmering over night should i cover the pot?

thanks so much...

casey

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maybe a bit of a foolish question but when the stock is simmering over night should i cover the pot?

thanks so much...

casey

Nope! It won't reduce as much if you cover it because the condensation will keep getting re-absorbed back into the liquid. Uncovered is the way to go.

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With a roasted-bone meat stock, is the bone-washing procedure recommended, or are you stuck with lots of skimming? I just picked up some beef marrow bones and roasted them (my supermarket wanted $5.79/lb for veal shanks... frozen, even... the $1.29/lb marrow bones seemed the way to go.) I've got them covered w/ H2O in the pot, but no veg... am going to observe and see how voluminous the scum becomes, and chuck in the veg after the majority subsides, I think.


Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

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Carolyn Tillie Posted on Aug 5 2003, 05:35 PM

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

QUOTE (zephyrus @ Aug 5 2003, 02:57 PM)

maybe a bit of a foolish question but when the stock is simmering over night should i cover the pot?

thanks so much...

casey 

Nope! It won't reduce as much if you cover it because the condensation will keep getting re-absorbed back into the liquid. Uncovered is the way to go.

i left mine mostly covered but with a small gap. by morning it had half boiled away even with the stock just bubbling (c92 C). had i left the lid off i would have been checking my insurance policy

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With a roasted-bone meat stock, is the bone-washing procedure recommended, or are you stuck with lots of skimming?  I just picked up some beef marrow bones and roasted them (my supermarket wanted $5.79/lb for veal shanks... frozen, even... the $1.29/lb marrow bones seemed the way to go.)  I've got them covered w/ H2O in the pot, but no veg... am going to observe and see how voluminous the scum becomes, and chuck in the veg after the majority subsides, I think.

I don't bother to wash bones if they've been roasted already. It seems most of the nasty stuff gets left behind in the roasting pan, provided you do a long roast, and I fear washing would remove too much of the desirable flavor of the roasted bones.

We're going to close this thread for now so as to keep the current eGCI course the only active one. There are a few questions I still need to answer and I will append those when I get back to New York next week. Thanks everybody.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
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Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Rachel said in the Day 1 Q&A thread:

I'm finally doing this class. Well, at least half of it. I'm making the chicken stock.

I am starting with 10 lbs of chicken legs and 5 lbs of chicken backs. $0.29 and .20 per pound respectively at Foodmart International in Ridgefield, NJ. One and a half pounds each of peeled & trimmed carrots and celery (not-peeled). Three pounds onion. (Total Food Cost = $6.14) These were divided between my 16, 6.5 & 4.5 quart pots.

I originally planned on just using my 16 quart pot, but there was way too many veggies & chicken parts to fit. So, like I said, I divided between my three pots. I started the heat under the pots around 6:30. I skimmed dutifully and now there's very little scum on top. In fact, as long as I was skimming, I used a ladle & strainer and a fat straining measuring cup and have removed about 1 quart of fat (I didn't trim off the fat from the chickies before starting). Actually, since it's been simmering for almost 2 hours, I know it has reduced by 4.5 quarts - I've redistributed contents and no longer need the third pot. By the time I go to bed, I hope to have added the contents of the medium sized pot to the big one.

I must say, I feel weird about this stock. I wanted to brown the chicken parts & veggies the way I usually do (actually, I usually just use already cooked carcases & brown them and the veggies some more) I like the roasted taste. I also really want to add salt. And peppercorns. I can live without the parsley, but I missed adding parsley stems as well.

We keep weird hours, so I don't think it will be an issue to deal with the straining of the stock in the middle of the night. See you then.

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I finally got around to making the stock. I used about 7 pounds of chicken carcasses with lots of meat still stuck to the bones and the necks attached.

I put it up at about 10:30 pm and continued to strain off scum, in the beginning and then the congealed fat until about 2:30 am (we keep late hours). Woke up this morning and strained the stock trough a cheese cloth lined strainer. It's now chilling in the fridge. I think I got the bulk of the fat off last night, but this afternoon I'll skim off whatever accumulated and reduce.

My plan is to use some of the stock to make chicken soup for the pre-Yom Kippur meal. The rest will come in handy now that the weather has turned cool.


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