A friend posted the below on another forum and it's such an interesting primer on stocks, I thought someone(s) here might find it helpful also.

My Chef Bui (chef/instructor) was such a stickler when it came to stocks...eggs also, he'd almost expel the poor student who had green rings around the yolks.

The basics is what he really pounded into our heads - example, he always said one of the most beautiful foods in the world and one of the best flavored was a perfectly roasted chicken. I think of him everytime a beautiful roasted chicken comes out of my oven!! He'd be so proud!

But, back to stock -

Making stock for soup varies
Published on Wednesday, Jan 02, 2008

A freezer full of stock — whether from chicken, fish or vegetables — gives a home cook a running start on a good meal. The homemade product not only routs canned stock in a flavor match, but it's usually cheaper, too.

Chefs may disagree on the minutiae of stock methodology, but they concur on the core message: Garbage in, garbage out.
''Stock is not your compost bin,'' said Annie Somerville, chef of Greens in San Francisco. The image of the frugal, old-school French chef who hoards every potato peel, carrot scraping and onion skin does not correspond to how meticulous chefs make stock today. They start with pristine fresh vegetables, skins removed. Some use filtered water and costly meat. A stock is only as good as what you put into it, they believe.

Listening to chefs, another lesson emerges. Good stock doesn't develop from concentrating a large volume of liquid but from using as little water as necessary to draw out the goodness. Many chefs add barely enough to cover the solids; one chef — Amaryll Schwertner of Boulettes Larder in San Francisco, who sells her chicken stock for $13 a quart — cooks it with parchment paper on top, slowing water loss. No wonder the conventional stockpot is taller than it is wide. Slow extraction, not evaporation, is the key to flavor.

Beyond those two broadly shared views, chefs' opinions on proper technique range widely, so home cooks may choose to merge their guidelines into a hybrid technique. Embrace the methods that make sense to you and that are practical in your kitchen; reject the ones that seem too finicky or extreme.

Consider chicken stock, the cornerstone of the Western kitchen. Cooking-school students are taught to use carcasses — what's left after removing wings, legs, thighs and boneless chicken breasts — and to supplement with necks and backs and perhaps a few wings for more flavor. That's the basis of the chicken stock at Coco500, the San Francisco bistro run by French-trained Loretta Keller.

By contrast, in the Zuni Cafe kitchen, cooks remove only the chicken breasts; the rest goes in the stockpot. And Schwertner makes her extravagant stock with the entire bird.

''If you just use the bony parts,'' Schwertner said, ''somebody has hacked those up in a way that exposes a lot of blood and bits of bone. It's creates a murky color and murky flavors, so we leave the whole carcass intact.''

Zuni Cafe chef Judy Rodgers also emphasizes the importance of not cracking the bones — by hacking the carcasses to fit them into your stockpot, for example.

But the late Barbara Tropp, author of The Modern Art of Chinese Cooking (William Morrow, 1996), recommended chopping the chicken bones with a cleaver ''to expose the marrow and enrich the stock.''

Whatever chicken parts you use, they must be well rinsed to dislodge any bloody bits. Some chefs remove visible fat; Rodgers leaves it, convinced it adds flavor.

The chicken goes into the pot with cold water to cover — but to cover by how much? In her acclaimed Zuni Cafe Cookbook (W.W. Norton, 2002), Rodgers suggests 4 quarts water to one 51/2-pound chicken and tells readers not to worry if the bird isn't submerged.
Schwertner is more generous with her (filtered) water. ''Don't think about ratios,'' she said. ''It depends on the scale of the pot. You want to make sure your bones are well covered.'' In a narrow pot, 4 inches of water above the bones should do it, she said; add a couple inches if your pot is wide. Keller thinks 2 inches is plenty.

The liquid should then be brought to a simmer — slowly, according to most chefs, to maximize flavor extraction; quickly, according to Rodgers. Either way, a gray scum of coagulated protein will rise to the surface as the water heats and must be rigorously skimmed to produce a clear stock. That's why vegetables and herbs are always added later; they would get in the way of thorough skimming.

Once the stock reaches a simmer, it's unlikely to throw much more scum, so the vegetables and herbs — what chefs call ''the aromatics'' — can go into the pot. Most agree on carrots, onions, celery and leeks, cut in chunks of about 1 inch. Cut them the same size, Keller said, ''so each vegetable has its proportionate say and one doesn't dominate.''

Don't overload chicken stock with vegetables if you want the result to taste like chicken. Peel carrots and onions, and discard celery leaves, which have a strong flavor.

A bay leaf, a few sprigs of fresh thyme, and parsley stems go in now. (Parsley leaves, if overused, can give stock a green tinge.) A sprig of mint is a nice idea, Schwertner said, but oily or woody herbs, such as rosemary, are too strong.

Salting prompts another debate, naturally. Some, like Somerville and Rodgers, believe in adding salt early to tease out flavors. Others, like Paul Canales of Oliveto in Oakland, Calif., don't salt stock at all, figuring that it's safer to season the dish the stock is used in. A salted stock, if reduced for a sauce, can become too salty, Canales said. But Rodgers said her own side-by-side test convinced her that a stock seasoned early has ''more chickeny-ness'' than a stock salted after cooking.

Salted or no, a stock should barely simmer. Adjust the heat so the liquid visibly swirls under the surface and bubbles break the surface in a leisurely fashion, not rapidly — ''a burble,'' Keller calls it. ''The other great stock motion word is that it should be 'smiling.' ''

The worst thing you can do to stock is to boil it, Keller said, especially if you haven't skimmed it carefully. ''You'll ruin it by emulsifying it,'' the chef said. ''The fat and impurities will mix with the broth, and then you're done.''

Once you have the simmer where you want it, leave the stock alone. Resist the temptation to push the bones and vegetables down into the broth. ''Steady, even heat with a minimum of mucking around leads to the best visual clarity,'' Rodgers said.
In three to four hours, chicken stock should have a full, rich, rounded flavor. Taste often and stop when you're satisfied. More simmering will not make it better, Rodgers said, and can even produce flavors you don't want.

Strain the finished stock through a fine-mesh sieve. Cool to room temperature — in an ice bath to speed the process, if desired — then refrigerate or freeze.

Fish stock, meat stock

On to fish stock, which has its own requirements but fortunately engenders a little less conflict. Standard practice is to use only the bones of white-meat fish, such as halibut or rock cod.
Keller suggested blanching fish bones to remove any trace of spinal-cord blood — ''and that,'' she said, ''is after you've rinsed the holy bejesus out of them.'' Fish heads add body and flavor to stock, but they must be halved and flushed, with the gills removed. Use kitchen scissors to cut around the gills, Schwertner said, but avoid cutting into them or they will make your stock bitter.

As for aromatics, Schwertner likes celery, carrot, leek, fennel and tomato, first sweated in olive oil, with the fish bones on top. Because fish stock cooks briefly — about 20 minutes — the vegetables should be cut small to release flavor quickly. When the fish bones turn white, she adds white wine (it's optional), salt and cold water — just enough to cover the bones. Bring to a simmer, skim, and cook gently just until it tastes good.

''It's dynamic, the extraction of flavor,'' Rodgers said, ''and not all the flavors are wonderful. When it's delicious, stop where you're at.''

The difficulty of finding humanely raised veal has turned some chefs away from veal stock — long a mainstay in serious kitchens — in favor of beef stock or a blended meat stock. Schwertner and Keller use a combination of marrow bones for body and meaty bones, such as cross-cut shank, for richness.
For meat stock, which should be dark in color and big in taste, the meat, bones and aromatics are roasted first. Roasting caramelizes them, heightening sweetness and deepening flavor. But any blackening will make meat stock bitter. ''You don't want that burned bone thing,'' Keller said.

Stop when the meat, bones and vegetables are a rich auburn color. Transfer them to the stock pot, pour off the fat in the roasting pan, and deglaze it with water to dissolve all the tasty stuck-on bits. Some chefs, Keller among them, add roasted tomatoes or a touch of tomato paste to their beef stock for color and acidity.

Vegetables for meat stock can be cut larger — 2 inches or so — because the stock cooks for so long, at least six hours. As with chicken stock, skimming is critical and stirring discouraged.
The vegetables are spent by the end of this process, but the meaty shank still has redeeming value. ''It's delicious no matter how long it has cooked,'' said Schwertner, who enjoys it with mustard or horseradish.

Predictably, there's no consensus on meat stock, either. Canales, for one, adds no aromatics, a position he admits is uncommon. An early mentor, a French chef who had cooked at New York's Four Seasons, persuaded him to omit the usual herbs and vegetables. ''He was adamant,'' Canales said. ''He said, 'You're making this stock and then you're going to dilute its meat flavor with aromatics. And then you're going to make soup and further dilute the flavor with more aromatics.' ''

Vegetable stock
Vegetable stock, while much faster and easier than meat stock, is just as subject to strong views.

''I hate the way that people think they can throw everything into the pot and make vegetable stock,'' Schwertner said.

Consider the balance of vegetable flavors and the eventual use of your stock. Portobello mushrooms will yield a stock too dark for many vegetable soups, for example; broccoli and other members of the cabbage family produce a stock that would overwhelm a delicate vegetable risotto. Adding a lot of any one vegetable, just because you have it, will give an unbalanced result, Somerville said.

Schwertner likes to sweat the ingredients for vegetable stock in a little butter or olive oil under a round of parchment, slowly drawing out their sweetness. ''It creates a kind of greenhouse environment where moisture stays close to the vegetables and they're not coloring but just softening,'' she said.

A fall vegetable stock might include carrot, celery or celery root, leek, fennel, some tomato trimmings, a smidgen of kohlrabi and a few dried porcini. Cold water, herbs and sea salt go in next, and the stock is simmered ''for a very long time,'' she said. (Others suggest 45 minutes.)

A weekend of stock making can pay delicious dividends, especially if, as Schwertner urges, you mind the details. A carefully made stock ''is lovely to look at and lovely to fuss over,'' she said, ''and you want to have that beautiful aroma in your world. It's so therapeutic.''


5 lbs. meaty chicken bones
2 medium carrots, peeled, in 1-inch chunks
1 rib celery, in 1-inch chunks
1 leek, white part only, halved lengthwise and rinsed well, in 1-inch chunks
1 large onion, halved and peeled
1 clove
6 Italian parsley sprigs
1 bay leaf
2 to 3 sprigs of fresh thyme
12 peppercorns
Kosher or sea salt

Rinse the chicken bones well, removing any bloody bits and clumps of fat. If the pieces are too large to fit comfortably in your stockpot, separate them at a joint with a knife. Put the chicken parts in a pot with at least an 8-quart capacity. Add just enough cold water to cover, about 5 quarts.

Bring the water just to a simmer over moderately low heat; do not try to speed up the process by raising the heat. Rigorously skim any scum or foam that collects on the surface. When the liquid begins to bubble, add the carrots, celery, leek, onion, clove, parsley sprigs, bay leaf, thyme and peppercorns. Adjust the heat so the liquid barely bubbles; do not allow it to boil or the stock will be cloudy.

Cook gently without stirring for 3 hours. Remove from the heat. Strain the stock through a fine sieve and discard the solids. Season to taste with salt. Let cool completely, then refrigerate, or freeze in freezer containers.

Makes about 41/2 quarts.
Notes: You can use a whole bird or parts. If you use a whole bird, remove the chicken breasts first and reserve them for another use. For a more economical stock, use a combination of bony parts with some meat attached, such as carcasses, necks, backs and wings.


1 (51/2 lb.) chicken, preferably with neck and feet, or a smaller dressed chicken plus extra wings to equal 51/2 lbs.
4 quarts cold water
1 large carrot, peeled, in 2-inch chunks
1 celery rib, leaves removed, in 2-inch chunks
1 large onion, root end trimmed, peeled and quartered
11/2 tsp. kosher or sea salt

Remove the giblets from the chicken, if included. Don't remove the lump of fat inside the cavity; it will add flavor. Rinse the chicken. Cut the two breast halves off and reserve for another use. Slash the leg and thigh muscles to encourage the release of flavor. Cut off the feet and neck, if the bird has them.

Place the feet, neck and carcass in an 8- to 10-quart stockpot. Add the cold water. If it doesn't cover the chicken, don't add more. Instead, remove the chicken and cut off the legs and wings at the joints, then replace all the parts in the pot, arranging them so they sit low enough to be submerged.

Bring to a simmer over high heat and skim the foam. Stir the chicken under once just to allow the last of the foam to rise, then reduce the heat and skim the foam carefully, leaving behind any fat. Add the vegetables and salt and stir them under. Return to a gentle simmer and adjust the heat to maintain it. Cook without stirring until the broth has a rich, bright flavor, about 4 hours.
Turn off the heat and let the stock settle for 1 minute, then pour through a wide strainer. Start by ladling the stock into the strainer until the pot is light enough to lift and tip. For a clearer stock, strain again through a fine-mesh sieve. Cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate or freeze.

Makes 8-10 cups.
Adapted from The Zuni Cafe Cookbook by Judy Rodgers (W.W. Norton, 2002).


1 lb. meaty white fish bones, such as halibut or sea bass
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 medium carrot, peeled, in small dice
1 celery rib, in small dice
1 large leek, white part only, halved lengthwise, rinsed well, in small dice
1 small tomato, in small chunks
1/4 large fennel bulb, in small dice
12 Italian parsley stems, broken in half
2 to 3 sprigs fresh thyme
Kosher or sea salt
1 cup white wine

Rinse the fish bones well, removing any traces of blood.
Heat the olive oil in an 8-quart pot over moderately low heat. Add the carrot, celery, leek, tomato, fennel, parsley and thyme. Season with salt and stir to coat with the oil. Arrange the fish bones on top and cook gently without stirring until any meat clinging to the fish bones turns white, about 30 minutes. This slow ''sweating'' process extracts flavor from the vegetables and makes a sweeter stock.

Add the wine and just enough cold water to cover the bones, about 1 quart. Bring slowly to a bare simmer, then adjust the heat to maintain a gentle bubble; do not allow the stock to boil or it will be cloudy. Cook, tasting often, until the stock has a rich, sweet flavor, 15 to 20 minutes. Do not allow the stock to overcook or it will lose its delicate sweetness.

Strain the stock through a fine sieve, discarding the solids. For an especially clear stock, line the sieve first with a double thickness of cheesecloth. Taste the strained stock and add salt if necessary. Cool to room temperature, then refrigerate or freeze.
Makes about 1 quart.


3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 medium carrots, peeled, in small dice
2 celery ribs, in small dice
1/2 large fennel bulb, in small dice
1/2 small celery root, peeled, in small dice
2 small tomatoes, in small chunks
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
3 tbsp. crumbled dried porcini mushrooms
1 dozen Italian parsley sprigs
4 to 6 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
12 peppercorns
Kosher or sea salt

Heat the olive oil in a 6- to 8-quart pot over moderately low heat. Add the carrot, celery, fennel, celery root, tomato, garlic, porcini, parsley, thyme, bay leaf and peppercorns. Season with salt and stir to coat with the oil. Cover the vegetables with a round of parchment paper and ''sweat'' them slowly, without stirring, for 30 minutes. This process extracts flavor from the vegetables and makes a sweeter stock.

Add 2 quarts cold water and bring slowly to a bare simmer. Adjust the heat to maintain a gentle bubble and cook until the stock is rich and sweet, about 40 minutes. Strain through a fine sieve, discarding the solids. Taste the strained stock and add salt if necessary.

Cool to room temperature, then refrigerate or freeze.
Makes about 11/2 quarts.


10 lbs. meaty beef bones and marrow bones, such as *****, shank and other leg bones
1 large onion, quartered, layers separated
2 carrots, peeled, in 1 inch chunks
2 celery ribs, in 1-inch chunks
2 leeks, halved lengthwise, washed well, in 1-inch chunks
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. tomato paste
2 bay leaves
12 Italian parsley sprigs
6 sprigs fresh thyme
12 peppercorns
3 tbsp. kosher or sea salt, plus more as needed

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Rinse the meat and bones well and pat dry. Put them in a large roasting pan, where they should fit snugly in a single layer.

Toss the onion, carrots, celery and leeks with the olive oil to coat them lightly, then put the vegetables in a roasting pan or baking dish where they fit snugly in a single layer. Roast the meat and bones, turning once, until deeply browned and caramelized, about 11/2 hours. Roast the vegetables, stirring occasionally, until well browned in spots, about 45 minutes. Do not let the meat or vegetables blacken or the stock will be bitter. If necessary, remove any vegetables, such as leek tops, that threaten to burn before the other vegetables have browned.

Transfer the vegetables to a large stock pot. Add 1 cup water to the vegetable roasting pan and scrape with a wooden spoon to dislodge any caramelized bits. Pour this liquid into the stock pot.

Transfer marrow bones to the stock pot. Transfer the meaty bones to a platter. Pour off any fat in the roasting pan, leaving the stuck-on bits of protein behind. You will deglaze the pan later.

Coat the meaty bones with the tomato paste and return the meat to the roasting pan. Turn off the oven, then put the roasting pan back in the oven for 20 minutes.

Transfer the meaty bones to the stock pot. Add 2 cups water to the roasting pan, set the pan on the stovetop over moderately low heat, and scrape with a wooden spoon to dislodge any caramelized bits. Pour this liquid into the stock pot.

Add the bay leaves, parsley, thyme, peppercorns and salt to the stock pot, then add enough cold water to cover the bones, 7 to 8 quarts. Bring to a bare simmer slowly over moderately low heat, skimming any foam that collects on the surface. Adjust the heat to maintain a slow bubble. Do not allow the stock to boil or it will be cloudy. Cook without stirring for 6 hours.

Ladle the stock through a strainer into a large bowl or deep plastic container. Discard the solids. If you like, reserve the shank, ***** or other meaty bones and serve them with horseradish, mustard or an Italian salsa verde (parsley and caper sauce).

Cool the stock, then refrigerate until chilled. Lift off and discard the fat. Return to the refrigerator, in a lidded container, only the stock that you will use in the next 3 to 4 days. Freeze the remaining stock.
Makes about 6 quarts.
Note: You'll need a 16-quart pot to hold everything.
Retired and having fun writing cookbooks, tasting wine and sharing recipes with all my friends.

  Interesting Primer On Stocks cjs A friend posted the ...
Wow...very informative. I do hope this was a lot of copy and paste...my hands and wrists hurt thinking about typing all of that out.

Sounds great and a way to get a better base than all of those powders and pastes that are on the market today that are sooooo salty. These are copied and ready for future use. Thanks again!
"Ponder well on this point: the pleasant hours of our life are all connected, by a more or less tangible link, with some memory of the table."-Charles Pierre Monselet, French author(1825-1888)

  Re: Interesting Primer On Stocks firechef Wow...very informati...
All we all need to do now, is buy another freezer... and of course, you're welcome.
Retired and having fun writing cookbooks, tasting wine and sharing recipes with all my friends.

  Re: Interesting Primer On Stocks cjs All we all need to d...
This was extremely informative, Jean-----I printed out and will use for future kitchen adventures-----THANKS!!!!

Still clearing out our freezer and I have PLENTY of room----not for long, though!!!
"Never eat more than you can lift" Miss Piggy
  Interesting Primer On Stocks cjs A friend posted the ...
Thanks Jean! That is a lot of information to digest. I have only tried to make stock one time and it didn't turn out as good as I thought it would but if I can't make it after all your info, I should give up. I sure hope you didn't have to type all of that!

  Re: Interesting Primer On Stocks smschwag Thanks Jean! That i...
no, I just copied and pasted....thanks to my friend.
Retired and having fun writing cookbooks, tasting wine and sharing recipes with all my friends.

  Re: Interesting Primer On Stocks cjs no, I just copied an...
Interesting reading, Jean. I can finally come clean about skipping the mirepoix, and using tomato paste on my beef bones. I'm so glad to see people are moving away from just throwing any old thing in the stockpot. The idea of using a whole chicken sounds pretty good, have to try that one next time.



  Re: Interesting Primer On Stocks pjcooks Interesting reading,...
Thanks Jean! This is one of my summer projects. I've copied and saved it all for use when I get to it. I'm hoping the garden does better this year and we can FINALLY get that freezer for the house. (The one at the camp is full of venison.)

I have successfully done chicken stock using either carcass or whole chicken and do shrimp stock when I've saved up enough shrimp hulls. Is this right? I have found that using shrimp stock in cream sauces in place of clam juice produces a pretty good product.
Keep your mind wide open.
  Re: Interesting Primer On Stocks cjs no, I just copied an...
Really excellent article Jean. I had to print it out so I can read it later too. Good article to have amongst the cooking mags. I have always been too lazy to save scraps of stuff, so I have pretty much always used fresh veggies, but perhaps would not have used high quality meats.

That was a good read!
"Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time."

  Re: Interesting Primer On Stocks luvnit Really excellent art...
Alas, I've had to forgo saving my shellfish shells - my big freezer is just too full. That lamb we bought a couple months ago took all my extra space for goodies.
Retired and having fun writing cookbooks, tasting wine and sharing recipes with all my friends.
Interesting Primer On Stocks

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