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Cooking stocks: the ABC of the perfect chef


Brown background

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

Not to be confused with cooking gravy, cooking gravy is 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 very reason, in our eyes they seem like something very complicated. So let's find out what cooking stocks are and how they are prepared.

Included among the mother sauces, there are essentially two cooking stocks. They are divided into white bases and brown bases both based on the type of ingredients used and the preparation technique. If you decide to prepare cooking stocks, take the timing into consideration: they are in fact quite long recipes even if they are simple, so don't let yourself be discouraged.

White background
White background

How to prepare cooking stocks

There is never a lack of a base of sautéed vegetables such as celery, carrot and onion (even if the latter is occasionally replaced with shallots or leeks for a more delicate flavour), an aromatic bouquet and finally bones . The latter can be chicken, turkey, beef but also game and fish.

There are different things you need to know to prepare an excellent cooking base. First of all, the bones must be degreased before use and it is best to use bones from young animals which have more collagen and will give the classic dense consistency to the base after several hours of cooking. Rinse the bones in cold running water, then place in a bowl full of water for at least 30 minutes to remove any residue. The stock should never be stirred during the long cooking to prevent it from becoming cloudy. Finally we proceed with filtering. Also pay attention to the salt , never add it unless you prepare the vegetable stock.

As mentioned , cooking times are very long and for this reason it is difficult to establish how much bottom will remain in the pan. Approximately you will end up with half the starting liquids but, given that both funds can be frozen, our advice is to prepare a fair amount so that you always have them available.

What are white funds

Let's start by tackling the simplest type which owes its name to the light colour. There are various types of white funds:

  • white poultry stock : prepared with vegetables (fried or cold) and chicken and turkey bones;
  • common white stock : a stock made with chicken and/or veal, except for the addition of an aromatic bunch;
  • white fish stock : also known as fish stock and prepared by replacing the bones with fish bones;
  • lean stock or vegetable stock : prepared with different types of vegetables and spices.
Infographic on white kitchen bottoms

Brown cooking grounds

Preparing the brown stock with the traditional recipe is equally simple. Even in this case, however, there are different types of brown background, although one of the main characteristics is that of the presence of beef bones (or in any case red meat) roasted in the oven. Among the most common are:

  • traditional brown stock : obtained by cooking beef and chicken bones in the oven and then sautéing them;
  • game stock : prepared with game carcasses, vegetables and aromatic herbs;
  • tied brown base : brown base thickened with roux.
Infographic on brown cooking bottoms

How to make a white background

To make the preparation of these kitchen basics clearer, we give you an example of preparing a white base, the recipe includes:

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

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

How to make a brown background

Brown background
Brown background

Let's now move on to the ingredients necessary for the preparation of a brown background:

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

First, leave the bones to 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 pan before adding the bones, soaked mushrooms and red wine. Leave on high heat then cover with water and add the aromatic herbs and concentrate. Leave to cook for 4 hours, skimming occasionally, filter everything and put it back on the heat until it has reduced further.

Usually the brown bottom can then be used to make a good roast even more delicious!

Read also
Excellent as a base for many preparations, this is what roux is

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