Drag your cook­ing into the 18th cen­tury

Fol­low these rules to get your stock right, and you’ll take your sauces and soups to a new level

The Daily Telegraph - Saturday - - FOOD DRINK -


nou­velle cui­sine to thank, this time for re­mind­ing us of the key prin­ci­ples be­hind a re­ally good stock. Chefs of this per­sua­sion re­duced cook­ing times and spec­i­fied the veg­eta­bles to be used.

A num­ber of golden rules ap­peared. Start with cold water, keep skim­ming any grey scum that comes to the sur­face. While bones and shells take up to two hours to re­lease their flavour and col­la­gen – this is what gives fin­ished sauces body and shine – veg­eta­bles and fish only need 30 min­utes. Onions, car­rot and cel­ery add sweet­ness in a short time: a good trick is to hold back some veg­eta­bles to add for the last 10 min­utes of cook­ing. Sim­mer rather than boil to keep the stock clear.

An­other over­looked prob­lem is the type of water used. It took me a lit­tle while to work out why my sauces at the pub were not as shiny and clear as when I made them at home. Even­tu­ally I fil­tered the water I used, and they were per­fect.

It is worth re­mem­ber­ing the three dif­fer­ent phases of mak­ing a stock. Brown­ing the meat or the veg­eta­bles at the be­gin­ning will cre­ate sweet­ness and com­plex flavours known as the Mail­lard re­ac­tion, which will then trans­late to the stock ready to be con­cen­trated. The long sim­mer with the meat, veg­eta­bles and bones is the ex­change pe­riod when the flavours and gelatin trans­fer to the liq­uid. The third stage, if ap­pli­ca­ble, is the re­duc­tion, which must only be done once the con­tents have been sieved and the liq­uid is clear.

Ob­vi­ously, at home there is no need to be so pre­scrip­tive, but these tips should still help.

How­ever, if you fol­low these guide­lines you should have ac­cess to a beau­ti­ful stock even if you are in a hurry dur­ing the week. This will help to drag your cook­ing, kick­ing and scream­ing, into the 18th cen­tury.

Stephen Har­ris is chef-pa­tron of The Sports­man in Seasalter,

Kent, whose many awards in­clude the No 1 spot in the 2018 Estrella Damm Best Gas­tropub Awards

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