Fish bones for fumet.

Along with measurements and recipe conversions I have learned that stock is the stuff of cooking life. It seems making stock at home has become a thing of the past, and I’m not sure why. Is there much better than homemade chicken soup? If a restaurant makes good soup, and nothing else worthy of my palate, I’m still visiting. Making lasagna is more time-consuming, yet I think there are more noodles being layered than stocks being made. Why cruel world, why?

Fish fumet

There are 5 main categories of basic stocks: fonds, fumets (fish stocks), essences, glaces (concentrated stock), and jus. They are divided generally into brown and white stocks. The basic ingredients of a stock are : bones, mirepoix, acid, spices and seasoning, and water. Veal bones are used for beef stock; chicken for chicken stock; white, non-fatty fish bones for fumet; lamb, shellfish, and the like for specialized stocks. Mirepoix is onion 50%, carrot 25%, and celery 25% (substitute parsnip for carrot if making a white stock. This is a white mirepoix, used when making a white stock to keep a light color). Leeks can be added to white and brown stocks. A vegetable stock may have a variety of vegetables. An acid helps to dissolve connective tissue. Use  white wine for white stocks, tomato or red wine for brown stocks.  Spices and seasoning can be added as follows: sachet bag or bouquet garni. They can contain parsley, bay leaf, thyme, peppercorns (I crack mine), cloves (2 or 3), or celery. Last but certainly not least, the giver of life, water or remouilage (stock made from the bones that have already been used once to make a stock).

The bone-to-water ratio is debatable. At least 50%, up to 80% bones. I say start middle ground at about 60% bone, and tweak to preference. Do not use Brussels sprouts, asparagus, or spinach/leafy greens in your stocks. They will cloud your stock, and will not hold up to long cooking times. These are all general measurements. Most importantly, make sure your bones are covered with water or remouilage, and don’t use any overpowering herbs or seasoning, skip the salt, and as Chef says, “skim the scum”!

Hello, fish fumet.

Brown Stock

If you are making a brown stock, cut your bones in 3-4 inch pieces, roast your bones in a *375 oven until browned (about an hour). You can also separately roast your mirepoix if you like flavor, but you don’t need too.

Bring roasted bones to a high simmer, skim the scum, add mirepoix, keep at a simmer. Not a boil!

Skim the scum.

Simmer for 6-36 hours. Obviously the more you simmer the more concentrated your stock will be. If you are going for the long haul, add your mirepoix, and bouquet garni during the last couple hours, so you do not cook out the beautiful flavor they have just given you.

Strain through a chinois or fine mesh strainer.

Cool in small batches, and refrigerate. Then freeze if desired. Frozen stock can last for months.

There, that wasn’t so bad, was it?

And, white stock is even easier!

White Stock

Same as above, but no roasting. You want to achieve a light color. No Maillard reaction for you. (chemical reaction when glucose and amino acids are heated, the color and flavor change)

Chicken bones, water, mirepoix, boquet garni, and wine if using.

Bring to a simmer, skim the scum.

Simmer for 3-4 hours. Only 3-4 hours!

Skim the scum.

Strain.

Cool in small batches.

Refrigerate or freeze.

Oh wait, fish fumet: even easier!

Fish Fumet

Fish bones, water, wine, mirepoix, sachet in the pot.

Bring to a simmer, skim the scum.

Simmer for 30-45 minutes. That’s less than an episode of your favorite show. If you can give 45 minutes to Dexter, you can give 45 minutes to you and your loved ones’ tummies.

Strain.

Cool in small batches.

Refrigerate or freeze.

* For a cleaner stock, you can blanch your bones to rid them of impurities. Blood and such. You may also be blanching out flavor. Weigh this when thinking about blanching.

No, that is not every detail of stock making, but when you add some chicken, carrot, and some egg noodles to the chicken broth you just made, I promise you, you will want to perfect your stock, and will be on the hunt for all the little details. If  you go no further on your stock quest, you will still kick any canned soup’s ass, and that in itself is worth twenty minutes of prep work.