The foundations of flavor

Hey everybody! I took the time to make some stock recently and thought I would take the opportunity to talk a little about the process and how and why we use it. It may not be as cool and sexy as sushi or a killer entree, but stock making is a fundamental skill of pro or home cook.

I feel homemade, or scratch cooking is the key to a healthy diet. There are few guarantees of what is in or not in our food regardless of what label may hint at. The only way to know what we are actually consuming is to work with the raw/base ingredients and create the final product ourselves. Or work with a chef you trust to do the same.

There are some decent stock products available in the grocery stores these days, but even the low sodium options are still quite high in the stuff. Traditionally, there is no added salt in stock. However, as you pull minerals and flavors from bones, there will always be some amount of naturally occurring sodium.

A well made stock provides flavor, depth, complexity, and a great base for soups and sauces. Rice, couscous, and other grains are much more enjoyable when hydrated with stock versus water.

Cost and time are the other considerations when talking about stock making at home. I can make a gallon and a half of stock for about the same price as two quarts of store bought. (Four quarts in a gallon, for those keeping score at home.) “But Chef,” you may say, “what about the time investment? Should that not be considered?” Right you would be. While a white stock may simmer for 4-7 hours, that active prep time is minimal once you have done it a few times. Not to mention your home smells amazing!

What is a stock, exactly? Our goal in stock making is to create a flavorful liquid that has been slightly thickened with dissolved bone marrow, collagen, and connective tissue which becomes a natural gelatin. If we continue to reduce the stock after straining it, the result is a thicker, velvety natural sauce base. Some would call that a Demi-glacé, but they would be wrong! We will cover that another time though.

That should do it for the lecture part of this entry. Let’s talk about the process.


Chicken bones and scrap 4-5#
Onions medium diced 2#
Carrot rough chop 1#
Celery rough chop 1#
Bay leaf 1 ea
Thyme 2 sprigs or 2 t
Parsley stems 5 ea
Peppercorns 4 ea
Cold water about 2 gal

Place the chicken carcass and scraps in a stock pot and cover with COLD water. Starting with cold water assures us that our stock will not be cloudy. Heat this up over med to med high heat, taking care not to rapidly boil, again this will lead to a cloudy final product.

Add the vegetables and seasonings and simmer for 4-6 hours. Keep an eye on the temp, if it boils, turn it down a touch. Just keep a steady simmer.

When you feel you pulled all the flavor and collagen you can, strain it through a fine sieve. Cool as quickly as possible and store as needed. Freeze some, make a soup, reduce it further for a sauce, or hold in the fridge for 5-7 days.

Thanks for hanging out. Look for me on wluk Fox 11 on Saturday morning(March 1). Should be on right before 7 and again before 8. We will be exhibiting a muffuletta sandwich and bananas foster with homemade ice cream. Should be tons of fun. Emily Deem, Doug Higgins, and the crew are always energetic and easy to work with. I will post the recipes from the show afterwards.


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