And so I sit here with Mr. T’s gravelly voice ringing in my head shouting “write that dang article, fool!”
I loved The A-Team when I was a kid; one of the most blatantly sham-action shows of all time, funny only in its ability to bring together such a ragtag group of good guys.
Sometimes I feel like I’m running an A-Team of sorts both in my house and at school. We always manage to get the job done, but along the way I’m typically called a fool and there’s always a Murdock to throw some spice into the mix.
Today is stock day, a wonderful production day for all of my classes in that it brings us back down to the very basics of cooking; remouillage, stock, mirepoix and the understanding of extracting the essence of the chicken and veal into an unctuous and mouth-coating delight.
One of the most basic practices in our field, it is one that is lost with most commercial facilities, as is evidenced by many chefs using bases (another word for commercial bouillon) and other cheaters to get the job done.
I wrote years ago about the importance of a chef’s ability to balance work, staff ability and labor costs. In many instances, it simply doesn’t make sense to make a batch of stock a week if you can’t pay someone to do it. It is very time consuming.
I want to make perfectly clear that I am not judging any chef who uses bases. I have used them myself in many facilities; that is not the point of this tirade.
I am simply saying, and I apologize to my wife beforehand, that I adore stock. “J’adore” as the French would say, and for good reason.
I won’t give you yet another recipe for stock, since I just did that a year ago, but I can give you some great ideas for how to store stock, how to utilize stock and how to come to grips with this easy yet seemingly-daunting task.
It all starts with the Remi, or remouillage (French for “rewetting”).
When you make a stock, simply strain and store, but reserve all of the stock ingredients such as the bones, vegetables et al.
Top the goop (as I like to call it) with another round of water and simmer for a few hours.
Strain this and store it until you make your next stock; this is your ‘remi’. Remi freezes beautifully and indefinitely if vacuum packed.
When you go to make your next batch of stock, just start it with the Remi instead of water. If you don’t have much remi, just top it off with water and you will be set.
As for storage, you have some options. It can be stored in larger containers in the refrigerator, but should be used within four days to ensure the highest quality. The FDA notes that they can be kept for seven, but I say four for quality.
You can separate the stock into a smaller cup to freeze but here you may fall prey to freezer burn.
The best way to store your stock for long term use is to vacuum seal the finished product. In the refrigerator, it is purported to extend shelf-life by up to six weeks, but follow your sealer’s manufacturer’s instructions carefully.
We use a professional sealer so it is guaranteed to be oxygen-free. Most home sealers cannot claim that, so read the literature that came with it diligently.
So now you can make stock and you know how to make remi. You may have a new idea or two on how to store it (or mayhap I bored you to tears).
Either way, you sill relish the look on your guests’ faces when they try that perfect sauce and eat that amazing soup. After all, that’s the reward of feeding people; making them happy. Pleasing their senses.
And not having some big dude with a Mohawk calling you a fool at the end of the meal.
Ideas for using stock
This preparation comes in handy in several ways:
-It can be reconstituted and used as a stock for soups and sauces
-It can be added to a wine reduction as-is to finish a pan sauce
-It can be used to glaze meats as they roast. The gelatins in this reduction (if you have made your stock carefully) will adhere to the surface of the meat and act as a sealant, allowing moisture to be retained in the meat more effectively
makes 1 qt.
2 ½ Qts. Brown stock (chicken or veal)
1 Tbsp. Tomato paste
Combine the stock and tomato product and bring to a boil
Reduce to a simmer and allow to reduce to 1 quart
While it is reducing, either wipe the sides of the pot down with a wet and clean towel or switch the stock to a smaller pan as it reduces
Strain the finished stock through cheesecloth to ensure that it is ultra-smooth
Place in small cups or vacuum pack in 4 oz. portions
Freeze if needed