Stocks in French are referred to as the “fond” or foundation, and with good reason, a well prepared stock can be used as the base for soups, sauces, braised foods and stews so without question stock making is an essential skill for every chef.

Stock is a clear un-thickened liquid that is flavored by soluble substances extracted from meat, poultry, fish and their bones as well as vegetables and seasonings.


Lets expand on flavoring:

  • Bones
    • Second to water, bones are the major ingredient in stock.
    • Most of the essential flavors emanate from the bones of: 
      • Beef
      •  Veal
      • Chicken
      • Fish 
      • Lamb
      • Pork 
      • Ham 
      • Game Meats
    • Type of stock determines which bones are used:
      • Chicken Stock uses chicken bones
      • White Stock uses beef or veal bones in addition to chicken or pork bones at times 
      • Brown Stock uses browned beef or veal bones
      • Fish Stock uses lean white fish bones and left over trimmings after filleting
    • Well made stock thickens or congeals when cold because of gelatin from broken down connective tissue and cartilage. The best source of gelatin is cartilage from young animals because their bones haven’t yet fortified. Tip: knuckles have the most cartilage. Acids such as tomato, or my personal favorite, wine can help stock by dissipating connective tissue.   
    • Cut all bones about 3 inches long to ensure even exposure and extraction.
  • Mirepoix
    • For depth of flavor, aromatic vegetables are the second most salient ingredient next to bones.
    • Mirepoix (meer-pwah) is a medley of 
      • 1 cup Onion
      • 1/2 cup Celery
      • 1/2 cup Carrot
    • In stocks mirepoix are cut coarsely with uniformity but will not be seen so neatness is not of high importance.The longer the cooking time of the stock, the larger the vegetables should be chopped to preserve flavor. Beef stock cooks the longest with a mirepoix of 1-2 inch cubes.
    • A white mirepoix needed for colorless stocks substitutes parsnip for the carrot because they are similar in flavor and texture except carrots bleed. Celery root can be substituted for the celery stalk for even whiter appearance. For better flavor in white mirepoix substitute a quarter of the onion with leeks. At times mushroom is added.
    • Mirepoix is also a flavoring staple of sauce, soup, meat, poultry and fish.
  • Seasonings and Spices 
    • Salt is not added because the ingredients of stock naturally contain the mineral. Stocks are generally reduced to intensify flavors therefore if you add salt it may become too strong. Remember that stock is just one ingredient used in a dish so you must consider what else has been salted. There’s always an opportunity to season the final dish once it’s completed.
    • Sachet d’épices (sa-shay day peace) French for “spice bag” containing herbs in a cheese cloth tied up and bound to the stockpot handle for effortless extraction. 
    • Bouquet garni (bow-kay gar-nay) is a mélange of herbs and other aromatics tied up in a cheesecloth. 
      • Common in bouquet garni are Thyme, Bay Leaf, Pepper Corn, Parsley stem, Cloves and Garlic 
      • Escoffier (French restaurateur) included only Parsley, Thyme and Bay Leaf
    • Oignon Brûlé (awn-yohn broo-lay) French for “burnt onion” is added to brown stocks for color and flavor. Cut an onion crosswise in half and cook flat on a skillet until dark brown.
  • Meat
    • Meats provide excellent flavor for stocks however because of price they are rarely used anymore, with the exception of chicken hearts and gizzards for chicken stock.
      • Broth, not to be confused with stock, is simply the flavor component of meat juices extracted during simmering. It only has one ingredient whereas stock has multiple.

 Standard Ratios:

  • White Stock of Chicken, Beef or Veal (1/2 Gallon)
    • 4 lb Bones
    • 1/2 lb Mirepoix
    • 3 qt Water
    • 1 Sachet d’épices
  • Brown Stock (1/2 Gallon)
    • 4 lb Bones
    • 1 lb Mirepoix
    • 4 oz Tomato Product (Paste or Sauce, don’t even think about substituting with ketchup lol)
    • 3 qt Water
    • 1 Sachet d’épices
  • Fish Stock (1/2 Gallon)
    • 6 lb Bones
    • 1/2 lb Mirepoix, white
    • 2 qt Water
    • 12 fl oz White Wine
    • 1 Sachet d’épices
  • Vegetable Stock
    • 4lb Vegetables
    • 1 gal Water
    • 1 Sachet d’épices

Standard Procedure for Stock Making:

1.     Cut all bones 3-4 inch long.

2.     Rinse bones in cold water or blanch (instructions above).

3.     Place bones in stockpot, with cold water (protein are more soluble in cold water) completely cover the bones (keep bones completely submerged at all times, you may have to add water throughout). 

4.     Bring water to boil (212 deg F vigorous bubbles) and then reduce and keep at a steady simmer (185-205 deg F gentle bubble) skim the surface scum as often as necessary.

5.     Add the mirepoix and spices.

6.     Continue simmering:

o    Beef bones 8-10 hrs

o    Veal bones 6-8 hrs

o    Chicken bones 3-4 hrs

o    Fish bones 30-45 mins

7.     Skim surface, strain stock through China Cap (fine metal strainer or fine mesh strainer) layered with cheesecloth.

8.     Cool the stock rapidly, it must be done within six hours. A good method is filling the sink with ice water and placing a large metal bowl filled with stock in it like an ice bath, while stirring.

 Stock lasts 2-3 days when properly stored in the refrigerator or several months in the freezer. 

My eight month old would make a great stock, he’s just a big ball of cartilage.” – A chef instructor of mine jokingly said.

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