“Sauces in cookery are like the rudiments of grammar. The foundation of all languages.” Alexis Soyer.
This week was the beginning of stocks and sauces! My personal favorite. This week in particular was vegetable stock. It’s a somewhat tedious process with crucial steps, but the results are a stock with clarity, body, aroma, and packed with flavor not over salted stock you find at the grocery store.
The key to any good stock is the mirepoix. Now traditionally mirepoix is 50% onions, 25% carrots, and 25% celery; however some stocks and sauces may vary; for example, “so frito” adding garlic. The beautiful thing about stocks and sauces are that the limit of the sauce is only the chef himself. The mastery of the basic process however is like Van Gogh learning how to hold a brush. What you do with that basic mastery, is up to you.
After “sweating” the vegetables to extract more flavor, the next important step to me was to extract the flavor without browning the vegetables. Nobody wants burnt soup.
Since vegetables lack collagen, there’s not much fat or “scumming” to do. So once you’ve simmered (NOT BOILED) your stock, straining leaves you with nothing but a beautiful stock with full body with little impurities if any.
Before you just toss this 180 degree stock in the fridge and send it into over time and heating up your fridge putting your entire food storage in the food safety danger zone, you must “vent” it in an ice bath. Be sure to have the stock pot raised so the ice bath can circulate around the pot cooling it faster. Be sure to get your stock to 70 degrees within two hours and 40 or below in 4. This prevents any food borne illness from getting in their happy zone of growth. Food is life but safety first!
Now, you have a beautiful vegetable stock you can make a nice stew, soup, or pretty much anything you want, without the over processed high sodium stocks from the store. Bon appetit!