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Cooking bases: the ABC of the perfect cook

Brown background

Do you know what cooking stocks are? All the chefs use them and once you try them you too will understand why: they are a concentrate of flavor!

Not to be confused with the cooking juices, cooking stocks are the basis of many preparations. In fact, it is not uncommon to see them appear in the recipes of great chefs and, perhaps for this reason, they seem to us something very complicated. So let’s find out what cooking stocks are and how they are prepared.

Counted among the mother sauces, there are essentially two cooking stocks. They are distinguished in white backgrounds and brown backgrounds not so much on the basis of the type of ingredients used which, as we will see, is approximately the same, but more for the preparation technique. If you decide to prepare cooking stocks, take into account the timing: in fact, these are rather long recipes even if simple, so don’t be discouraged.

How to prepare cooking grounds

As mentioned, the ingredients for the preparation of the funds are always about the same. There is never a lack of a vegetable base for sautéing such as celery, carrot and onion (even if the latter is occasionally replaced with shallots or leeks for a more delicate flavor), an aromatic bouquet and finally bones . The latter can be chicken, turkey, beef but also game and fish.

There are several things you need to know to prepare an excellent cooking stock. First, the bones must be bleached before use. The bottom should never be stirred during long cooking to prevent it from becoming numb. Finally we proceed with the filtering. Also pay attention to the salt , never add it unless you prepare the vegetable stock.

The cooking times as mentioned are very long and for this reason it is difficult to establish how much stock will remain in the pot. Indicatively, you will find them with half of the starting liquids but, since both funds can be frozen, our advice is to prepare a fair amount of them so as to always have them available.

White background
White background

How to make a white background

Let’s start by dealing with the simplest type which owes its name to the light color. There are various types of white funds:

  • white poultry stock, prepared with vegetables (fried or cold) and chicken and turkey bones;
  • common white base, prepared as the previous one except for the addition of the aromatic bunch;
  • white fish stock, also known as fish stock and prepared by replacing the bones with fish bones;
  • lean base or vegetable base: prepared with different types of vegetables and spices.

To prepare a white base, the recipe provides:

  • 1.5 kg of chicken bones
  • 1 onion
  • 1 stick of celery
  • 2 carrots
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 sprig of thyme
  • 2 cloves
  • 3 liters of water
  • to taste of extra virgin olive oil

First, soak the clean bones in water for an hour. Peel all the vegetables and cut them into chunks then brown them in a large pot with oil, spices and herbs. Add the bones and cold water and cook with the lid on for 4 hours . Filter everything with a fine mesh strainer lined with gauze and put the liquid back on the stove to shrink further.

Brown background
Brown background

How to make a brown background

Preparing the brown stock with the traditional recipe is just as simple. Also in this case, however, there are different types of brown background:

  • traditional brown stock , obtained by cooking the bones in the oven and then cooked with sauté;
  • game stock , prepared with game carcasses, vegetables and aromatic herbs;
  • tied brown background: brown background thickened with roux.

The ingredients necessary for the preparation of the brown base are:

  • 1.5 kg of veal bones
  • 600 g of carrots, onion and celery
  • 5 liters of water
  • 1 glass of red wine
  • 5 dried mushrooms
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 sprig of rosemary
  • 4 sage leaves
  • 1 sprig of thyme
  • 1 teaspoon of tomato paste
  • to taste of extra virgin olive oil

First, let the bones soak in water for an hour, then cook them in the oven at 250 ° C for 40 minutes. Cut the vegetables into chunks and brown them in a large pot before adding the bones, the soaked mushrooms and the red wine. Let it go over high heat then cover with water and add the aromatic herbs and the concentrate. Cook for 4 hours, skimming from time to time, filter everything and put it back on the heat until it is further reduced.

Usually the brown stock can be used to make a good roast still delicious!

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