In my previous post, I gave you a recipe for a basic veal stock, so I thought I would give you another recipe that shows of these kinds of home-made stocks to their best.
The recipe comes from the distinguished French Cook Louis Eustache Ude, chef to the Earl of Sefton. He came from good cooking stock himself, his father was chef to King Louis XVI.
Ude was quite a character, there’s a great story of him being hauled in front of a magistrate after he had been found selling roast grouse on his menu before the 12th of August (the date from which the gamed season begins. See here for a post all about that). He was given a fine and sent on his way.
The next day, the Scottish Laird who had reported Ude to the police returned to Ude’s restaurant to make sure he was abiding by the rules. Pleased to see there wasn’t a morsel of the offending bird on the menu, he ordered Salami de fruit défendu, i.e. Salmi of Forbidden Fruit, which turned out – of course – to be grouse!
Louis Eustache Ude
There was none of this nonsense when he worked for ,and was handsomely paid by, the Earl of Sefton, except when he left his service because Ude spotted the Earl’s son adding salt to some soup he made. Offended by this, he turned on his heel and left.
This recipe is in essence a savoury custard, and may sound odd, but it is in fact subtle, delicious and light. It could only work with a home-made stock though. I imagine it would be excellent nourishing food for someone that is ill. The little custards can be served in their ramekins or turned out onto a plate.
The recipe below comes from Jane Grigson’s English Food, where she suggests serving it with thin dry toast. A very good idea, I can confirm.
It makes between six and ten portions depending on the size of your ramekins.
600ml of good, clear, home-made stock
6 beaten eggs
grated zest of a lemon
¼ teaspoon of ground mace
salt and Cayenne pepper
4 tablespoons of clarified butter
Bring the stock to a boil and whisk into the eggs as you would with a regular custard. Add the lemon zest and mace and season with the salt and Cayenne pepper and whisk in the butter.
Place your ramekins in a deep roasting tin and pour the custard into them and cover them with foil. Pour boiling water into the tin, technically turning it into a ban Marie. Carefully slide the tin into an oven already preheated to 180⁰C and bake for 12 to 20 minutes, or until the custards are just set and still have a good wobble on them. Serve straight away.
To me, life without veal stock…is a life not worth living
A while ago, I started up a series of posts on stock-making, and thought I should continue it.
When it comes to stock-making the home cook needs to keep out an eagle-eye for off cuts of meat and bones to sequester in the freezer ready to whip out for a stock. This I always do at Levenshulme Market (of which I am a Director), where the excellent Wintertarn has a stall selling organic cheese and –being good, sustainable dairy farmers – their organic rose veal too. I always have a nosey for any odd bits and I’ve managed to stockpile a few calves’ tails and a calf’s heart, amongst other things.
These sorts of bits are great for making meat stocks – muscle for meaty flavour and bones for gelatinous body.
I thought I would give you my recipe to make a basic veal stock ready for classic soups, stews and sauces. It is the stock favoured in posh restaurants with kitchen run by French chefs, but it is easy to make, and cheap too, if you know where to look. It’s always a good idea to make friends with your local butcher, for this very reason. The reason it is liked so much is that it as there is no dominating flavour as there can be with beef stocks, yet there is plenty of body.
I have written a post already on general stock making, so it might be a good idea to have a look at that if you haven’t made stock very often.
This recipe is guidance really, most quote veal knuckle (the veal equivalent to a pig’s trotter) and veal shin, but you can use any cheap/free bone and muscle combination. You only need to the basic aromatics too – this is a simple, yet elegant stock, of course you can add other vegetables too. Notice there are no peppercorns; if you want a clear stock they need to be avoided as they can make the stock cloudy. If you don’t care, add half a dozen.
1 kg of veal knuckle, split, or tail, or other bones, chopped up
750g shank, or other well-used muscle cut into pieces (heart, tongue, skirt, osso bucco etc.)
2 carrots, peeled and halved lengthways
2 onions, peeled, halved and studded with 2 cloves each
2 sticks of celery, roughly chopped
2 whole garlic cloves
a bouquet garni made up of thyme, parsley stalks, 2 bay leaves
First, get a large pot of water on the boil, and blanche the meat for 5 minutes. This gets rid of the scum, that otherwise would rise to the surface and require skimming. Drain the meat and give it a quick rinse. Place in your stock pot with the vegetables, packing everything in tightly. Pour cold water to just cover, around 2 litres.
Bring to a simmer very slowly, it should take at least 20 minutes. If you do this correctly, you won’t get any more scum rising to the surface.
Once the water is barely gurgling, move the pot onto the smallest hob on your cooker, set at its lowest heat. Keep the pot covered and let it tick over for 5 hours. It may seem like a long time, but it really needs this long slow bathe. It’s not like you have to stand over it. Tip your nets, grout the bathroom or take the dog out or something in the meantime.
Strain the stock through a sieve into a clean pan, bring to boil and reduce by a third. Cool overnight and take away any fat that has solidified on the stock’s surface. You should have a pale coloured jellied stock that can be seasoned and used as required.
If you want a richer brown stock, the bones and vegetables can be browned in the oven first.
In the next post I’ll give you a recipe that needs a good, home-made stock like this.
As promised in my last post a good recipe for a basic vegetable stock which is definitely robust enough to be swapped for chicken or fish stock in any recipe.
It is hard to be exact when making stock because it depends upon the vegetables you like, the vegetables you have and what the stock is to be used for. It’s also worth mentioning that if you don’t have tomatoes, for example, don’t worry, just include something else to make up for it.
The basics are fundamental. You need at least three of the following: onion, leek, carrot, celery and garlic and then everything else is a bonus. I would say you should use at least 3 more vegetables.
The good thing about a vegetable stock is that because it is only simmered for 20 minutes you can get away with cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, or any other brassicas before they go all farty. Asparagus trimmings, sweetcorn, pea pods, and anything else you can think of all count. Keep your trimmings in a freezer bag until they are required.
The same goes for herbs: freeze parsley stalks and anything else that is looking a bit sad sat in the bottom of the fridge. Avoid mint as it tends to overpower vegetable stocks.
The spices I like to use are peppercorns, cloves and then either some fennel seeds or some allspice berries, but it’s up to you really; cumin or cardamom, nutmeg or mace, chillies or lemon peel have all worked successfully in the past.
Remember: the whole point of making your own stock is that you don’t get the same thing every time. I have never included a vegetable that hasn’t worked, even ones you won’t suspect like beetroots, cucumbers, lettuces and courgettes.
For more general information on stocks click here.
This recipe makes around 1 ¾ litres of stock.
At least 3 of the following: 1 large onion, 1 carrot, 2 cloves of garlic, 2 sticks celery (with leaves), 1 leek (include the green top)
75g brassica – e.g. cabbage, broccoli, turnip &c
½ fennel bulb
Any other vegetable trimmings (if using all trimmings, go for at least 300g in weight)
30g butter or 2 tbs olive oil
2 bay leaves
6-10 parsley stalks
4 springs of thyme
1 sprig rosemary
6 allspice berries or a teaspoon of fennel seeds
around 2 litres of water
Begin by preparing your mirepoix; a mirepoix is just vegetables chopped very small so that the maximum amount of flavour can be extracted in the minimum amount of time. I go for the easy option and use a food processor.
Heat the butter or oil in a pan and fry the vegetables for around 10 minutes so that they soften but don’t colour.
Tip the vegetables into a large saucepan or stockpot along with your herbs and spices. Cover them with cold water and slowly bring to a bare simmer. Try and make sure the stock doesn’t boil. Simmer the stock on the smallest hob on the lowest possible heat so that it merrily ticks away for around 20 minutes.
Let the stock cool slightly before straining it off. Avoid seasoning it with salt – wait until you’ve made the dish you are to use the stock for.
Your vegetable stock is now ready to use.
If you want, you can reduce it, but you must be careful not to boil it hard as the subtle flavours will evaporate and the stock will look and taste like overcooked sprouts. The best way reduce it is to pour the stock into a wide pan and let it simmer and reduce gently.
Stock is the body and soul of soups – Lindsay Bareham
I have been making my own stocks for years now and it is part of my regular kitchen routine. I sequester bones, meat offcuts, fish heads and trimmings, vegetable peelings and herb stalks in bags in the bottom of my freezer so that I can combine them appropriately whenever I need to. It’s a thrifty way of living; often making a large batch of stock costs only the price of the fuel that cooked it.
For those that do not cook much at home, stock-making is sometimes regarded as some kind of alchemy, yet this is a misconception, and indeed there are many very complicated stock recipes, but the home cook (I include myself here) need not bother with these. The chances are you have made stock several times and have thrown it down the sink without a second thought, because in its most basic form, the water you cook your vegetables in is a good, light vegetable stock.
From a history point of view, one cannot pin-point when stocks were first made, and one cannot unravel the origins of stock from soup. Take this example from Good Things in England by Florence White:
[The soup] is nothing more than the water in which young cabbage has been boiled…It is extremely good and delicate and tastes very much like chicken broth. It is not merely an economy but a luxury; one of the best of health and beauty drinks.
Wise and thrifty cooks throughout the millennia used the water that their tough meat joints were simmered in or their fish poached in and used them as the base of another dish. One of my favourite dishes is poached silverside of beef which consists of beef, herbs, a couple of veg and water. The resulting broth makes beautifully-tasting soup.
Poached Silverside of Beef
Seeing as we are trying to be thrifty folk, I thought I would give you a quick guide to stock-making. As I have mentioned, it will save you money, and – like when you make your own bread – you will see how sublime it can taste. Every stock you make will taste a little different each time and it can be tailored to suit its use, e.g. add a few fennel seeds to a stock for a fish soup. Best of all, your soups and stews won’t taste of stock cubes. There is nothing wrong with having a stash of them in your food cupboard, I would do too, but with my very frustrating onion and tomato intolerances, I usually have to do my own. The point is, that when you use bought stock cubes, every soup and stew ends up tasting the same.
What makes up a stock?
This is the beauty of stock-making; there are no hard-and-fast rules with respect to ingredients.
All good stocks should contain some flavoursome vegetables and aromatic herbs and spices, often called a bouquet garni, as well as the main ingredient: this might be meat and bones, fish, or, more vegetables. The stock might be seasoned or enriched with salt, wine, soy sauce, Worcester sauce, tomato puree, mushroom ketchup or any number of other things, though it is usually best to do this once the soup or stew that the stock is being used for has been made.
The vegetables used in your stock are often key to the quality as they add a lot of depth. The three basic vegetables used for most stocks are carrots, celery and onion, though I personally add garlic and leek to this ‘trinity’ (a trinity in five parts?). My general rule of thumb is to try and include at least three of the five. Anything else is a bonus, really. Fennel is a good addition, if used sparingly, as are tomatoes, mushroom peelings, pea pods. Lentils, parsnips and potatoes add an earthiness, but should be avoided if you don’t like your stock cloudy. Brassicas such as cabbage, cauliflower, of sprouts should be used very sparingly, especially in meat or poultry stocks that have a lengthy cooking time, they are great in vegetables stocks though. Vegetables need to be roughly chopped in long-cooked meat stocks, and chopped small (a mirepoix as it is called in the trade) in quick-cook vegetable and fish stocks. A food processor makes an easy job of it.
Herbs, spices and other aromatics
Like the vegetables, the herbs and spices you add will depend upon what you have and they are essential. Must-haves herbs include bay leaves, parsley stalks, thyme and rosemary. Other herbs are great if you can get hold of them. Dill stalks in a fish stock are delicious as is a tiny mint sprig in a summertime lamb stock. I keep and freeze all my herb stalks to use later in stocks – there’s no need to throw them away. Must-have spices include black peppercorns, cloves and allspice berries.
The thinly-pared rinds of citrus fruits are also used quite a lot: a strip of orange peel transforms a game stock and lemon rind really lifts chicken, vegetable and fish stocks.
These herbs and spices are often tied up into a faggot or bouquet garni, though I never bother to tie mine up for stock, though I do for stews and soups where careful and efficient removal is required.
Poultry, meat and game
Use whatever you have – raw meat and bones, or bones from a roast. A little goes a long way: I have made game stock using a single woodcock carcass that still tasted great. It is best to avoid bones that have already been stewed as most of the flavour will already have leached out, but do add any left-over pan juices, jelly or gravy. Raw meat or bones will benefit greatly from a quick roasting in a hot oven for 20 minutes or so.
The important thing here is to treat your stock meat properly – if you boil the stock hard, the tasty amino acids and textural gelatine will not go into your stock, but will either form a nasty grey scum or will be trapped within the meat. Low simmers and long cooking times are essential.
It is best to avoid kidneys and livers in stocks, as their flavour is far too strong, but hearts, tongues and heads all make good additions.
Fish stocks, in contrast to meat stocks, can be made in minutes. Use bones and trimmings in your stock, but avoid oily fish such as mackerel and sardines. Mussel, clam, cockle or oyster liquor would be delicious, if you ever have any.
You might want to clarify your stock after straining it. This is straight-forward enough to do and there are several methods. The quick method is to whisk a mixture of egg whites and broken egg shells into the hot stock. The eggs grab hold of and magically mop-up the cloudy substances. The slow – and best – method is to freeze the stock, tie it in muslin and let the melting stock drip through. This method makes beautifully clear stocks.
There are a few tricks to avoid cloudiness in the first place: Don’t use starchy vegetables like potatoes, lentils and parsnips and avoid peppercorns. The best way is it leave the stock be; prodding, poking and rearranging items is the surest way to cloud it.
Some stock-making rules:
Start with cold water and bring to a simmer slowly. This is the most important rule of all. As the water gradually heats, the flavours leach out and don’t boil away and connective tissues break down to release their gelatine. The stock should never get hotter than a bare simmer; you want the odd gurgle, nothing more
Remove the scum before you add the herbs and spices. If you don’t the scum gets all caught up in it, making a nasty grey mess. Skim the scum, then add the aromatics.
Remove the layer of fat. Nobody wants greasy soup. The best way to do this is to let it cool and then scrape the fat layer away. If time is an issue, lay paper napkins on the stock’s surface.
The amount of water you use depends on your pot. Don’t follow the recipe when it comes to adding water. Arrange the ingredients in your pan with few gaps and add enough water to just cover.
Break the bones and cut up the meat. This increases the surface area and therefore increases the flavour of your stock.
When storing stock, cool it quickly and keep in the fridge up to 2 or 3 days. Any longer than that, freeze it.
Reducing stocks enhance the flavours and mean you can store more in the freezer. You must strain the stock and skim it of fat before reducing it. Meat stocks you can boil it quite heard, but vegetable and fish stocks need to be treated a little more gently.
Every post I write a post with a stock recipe or information about stock I tag it appropriately. Click here to see the posts.
I will post a good vegetable stock recipe in the next day or so, as it is the most useful of all the stocks and I already have posted a duck stock recipe.
The best advice is really to use stock recipes as a guide only, use what you have to hand. Keep your vegetable and meat trimmings in a bag in your freezer and you’ll find that you’ll quickly fill them.
Here at British Food, we don’t like anything to go to waste, so apart from the history behind our food and the recipes that go alongside it, I am also going to provide recipes that use up the left-overs. We’re always being told of the mountains of food we are wasting and what we should do about it; in the past, of course, nothing went to waste, so I suppose by adding recipes for stock and things like that, I am still being historical. In the past, people didn’t want to waste money – that doesn’t just go for the average families, but also rich homes, where the cook really had to have a knack for meal planning and budgeting. We really need to look at our ancestors to see how our food can be better managed. I try and get as many meals as possible out anything I buy these days and have really cut down on my grocery bills, this way I can afford to buy meat from farmers markets and the like all the time now.
So, I have already told you about ducks and given a recipe for roast duck, so now here’s what to do with your left-over carcass. I made soup with my carcass, but duck stock also makes great risotto (but that is not very British, so there’s no recipe for that!).
The ingredients are not set in stone, so use whatever suitable veggies you have lying around that you think would be nice. Any road, here’s the recipe for a nice subtly sweet duck stock; it makes 2 pints.
one duck carcass
a large carrot, roughly chopped
a celery stick roughly chopped
two cloves of garlic, lightly crushed
bouquet garni: several sprigs of thyme, a bay leaf, parsley stalks, a strip of thinly pared orange zest, 6 peppercorns
any left-over scraps of jelly or gravy
2 1/2 pints of water
Preheat the oven to 200⁰C (400⁰F). Put the broken-up carcass and stock vegetables in a roasting tin to brown and slightly caramelise in the oven for 25 minutes. Place the carcass and vegetables, along with the bouquet garni, peppercorns and the left-overs, into a pan. Put the roasting tin over the heat and deglaze it with a little of the water, using a wooden spoon to get off all the nice burnt bits. Add this to the pan with the rest of the water. Bring steadily to the boil and simmer for around 2 hours.
Pass the stock through a sieve into a bowl, jug or other pan. Season with salt and let it cool completely. Skim any fat that will have risen to the top. The stock can be used straight away or refrigerated or frozen for future use.