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What should stock contain?

Yesterday, I was at the greenmarket and bought some "broth" from the guy at the bison meat stand. I asked him, "Is it seasoned with salt or anything else?" He replied, "No, it's just pure drippings from the marrow and bones."

That sounded tasty enough to me, so I bought a pint of the stuff. But in order to use it in a recipe calling for meat stock, what should I add to it besides salt (and maybe water if it's too viscous)?

That brings up the larger question: in order to be considered meat stock, what must a broth or liquid contain other than meat drippings?
Salt? Pepper? Other seasonings? Aromatics?

I know this is a sub-Cooking 101 question, so pelase forgive my ignorance. Obviously, I've never made my own stock, or I'd probably know the answer to this question already.

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  1. Well, the difference between a stock and a broth is that the broth uses meat for flavoring, whereas the stock uses bones. The gelatin in the bones gives the stock what is called a "mouth-feel" making it far superior to broth. Stock gives much body to anything that it is added to. Usually, stock is cooked with the bones, and root vegetables including onions, leeks, and carrots. Some add celery but I know Thomas Keller doesn't add any because he says it makes the stock bitter. As for flavoring, I would go light on the salt as you want to keep the stock clear of unneccesary salt as to preserve the flavor of whatever you are adding the stock to. Other flavorings include: parsley stems, whole peppercorns, and garlic cloves. Sometimes, a little saffron can really raise the stock to another level.

    1. Meat drippings? Meat drippings aren't stock, they're "jus."

      In its basic form, "stock" is simply water (or another stock), cooked with bones AND MEAT. Bones for gelatin, meat for flavor. I'm not sure how it's come about that stocks have come to mean bone soup, but that is not how they started out, at least not in French tradition, where we get our concept of the term. Even back in the early 20th century, Escoffier was decrying the paucity of meat in too many restaurant stocks and the negative impact thereof. These days, recipes don't seem to call for any, which I find gross to say the least.

      Typically, stocks are not or only minimally salted, seasoning being done to the final dish. Other flavorings like aromatics should be kept to a minimum as well, for the same reason. If you're making stock for a specific purpose, these things would be less of an issue. But beware reducing them, alone or in the dish, because that will intensify those flavors.

      1 Reply
      1. re: MikeG

        As far as tradtional cooking terms go, yes, meat drippings are just 'jus,' but, from a chemical perspective, the components in jus and fond are identical to those found in reduced stock. One process uses the water in the meat to extract water soluble compounds and the other adds water to achieve the same end. Chemically speaking,

        Glace
        Demi
        Jus
        Fond
        Stock
        Broth
        Drippings

        are ALL differing concentrations of the exact same thing.

      2. Reducing the stock, I mean, not reducing the seasonings!

        1. if it's just "drippings", that's not broth, nor is it stock. it's just, well, drippings, which means fat. that can be used as is to glaze meat when cooking, or add a little flour and make a roux, with which to make a sauce or gravy.

          traditionally stocks are begun with onions, carrots and celery. for a light stock, they are not sauteed or roasted, but they are for meat stock. aromatics like garlic, rosemary and thyme can also be added. tomatoes often are tossed into beef stock. the bones and scraps are simply added to the pot and everything is covered with water, then simmered. for darker heartier stocks, the bones will be roasted. cooking time will vary, anywhere from 30 minutes for fish stock to overnight for beef stock. easy hand in the beginning with s/p because that concentrates and it will be seasoned later.

          (recently read in escoffier that pepper should never be added till the last 7 minutes of cooking because the tannins turn bitter. i've since been following his advice.)

          it's then strained, cooled and skimmed. removing the fat that separates out makes for cleaner tasting stock.

          heat up a little bit of whatever it is you bought it and taste it before you decide what to do with it.

          3 Replies
          1. re: hotoynoodle

            "if it's just "drippings", that's not broth, nor is it stock."

            See my answer to Mike above.

            1. re: scott123

              no disrespect intended, but you're being reductively didactic, since stock is made with further enhancements as listed by various posters here, which creates more layered and nuanced flavors.

              1. re: hotoynoodle

                Stock CAN contain aromatics and herbs to 'enhance' flavors, but no where does it say that stock HAS to contain these enhancements.

                Stock = any animal + water + heat + time

                That's the core definition of stock. Stock in it's simplest form. Ingredients beyond that are personal preference.

                Water extracted animal compounds will all be the same, regardless of whether or not the water in the animal is utilized or additional water is involved.

          2. The French always Use Carrots, Onions, & Celery to make their Base Broth or Stock. I believe its called mirapau Please excuse my misspelling. When I make Stock I always Use a Combo of Meats with the Bone. I go to the Asian Supermarket and Get the Straight Large Beef Bones Roast in a 500 Degree oven for an hour. I also use Chuck steaks with the Large bone in the middle, Short Ribs, And Some times OX Tails. make sure you Sear the meats in a Large Cast Iron Skillet with EVOO and Get Good BROWNING....... Make sure You Deglaze the Pan with Liquid. I Never Reccomend water i Use some store bought Beef Stock. This Adds MUCH flavor.... Other wise if you just threw the meat in the stock pot you just ahve BOILED meat....Yuck... Simmer for at Least 4-6 Hours strain out all veggies save the meat and refrigate the Stock...Next day skim off all the fat and Chop up the meat and add whatever Veggies you prefer.... you can add Noodles or whatever.....ENJOY!

            4 Replies
              1. re: Skunk2Racer

                Reading through these posts, I was waiting for someone to mention ox tails, so thanks! I think ox tails make the BEST stock, and I make mine very much like you make yours, by roasting the bones and vegetables (mirepoix) first, deglazing the roasting pan, and then putting the ingredients into a stock pot, adding water to cover, and simmering for a long, long time.

              2. Thanks for your replies so far. The stock is for use in an oxtail/red wine braise that I posted about yesterday:
                http://www.chowhound.com/topics/362258

                I presume that Molly Stevens' recipe calls for stock for the purpose of adding a deeper, more luxurious flavor and texture to the braising liquid.

                With that being said--should I modify the stock before I use it in the recipe (by adding aromatics, for example)? Or should I refrain from using it in this recipe altogether?

                Judging by the liquid's color and by the seller's description, I'm certain that I am dealing with precisely the sort of meat-free "bone soup" MikeG refers to in his reply. I will taste it shortly, but I'm wondering if it's all fat and gelatin sans flavor.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Yaqo Homo

                  To me, adding extra drippings or stock to an oxtail braise is rather like bring coals to Newcastle. The tails bring plenty of their own flavor and gelatin to the dish. If the resulting stock is not rich enough, just reduce it some. Still if you don't have any further use for these drippings from the store, go ahead and add them to the braise. No need to doctor them up before hand.

                  paulj

                2. if it's "just drippings", it will have tons of flavor, lol. fat is flavor, baby. but it won't have the complexity of a good stock, nor will it have the right texture for your purpose. unless you taste it you won't know.

                  i worked in a steakhouse and we used those renderings to finish all steaks before plating. the company called it "the love."

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                    yes--good point, that was a dumb comment on my part. I know marrow to be highly delicious.

                    All those bony oxtails I'm braising will probably give off plenty of their own fatty, gelatinous juice, so I think I'll be better off using something more properly resembling meat stock.

                  2. Yago, as far as culinary terms go, 'broth' has so many interpretations, it's just about meaningless. Do yourself a big favor, and, rather than trying to define it, forget the word completely and use the term stock when referring to any animal/water extraction.

                    Stock is always going to have varying levels of flavor/body, depending on the parts of the animal used, the time it's cooked for and the amount of reduction involved, so any recipe that states 'x' amount of stock is going to be somewhat suspect. Since drippings are very concentrated, I'd treat them like very concentrated stock and add a little at a time- to taste.

                    1. In Bruce Cost's book "Guide to Asian Ingredients" he has a recipe for the most amazing chicken stock I have ever tasted.
                      It's called "Banquet Stock":
                      1. Place an entire chicken in boiling water for 2-3 minutes then reserve the chicken and discard the water.
                      2. In a heat proof bowl large enough to hold the chicken and 8-10 cups of water, place the entire chicken in with no seasonings or vegetables just the water.
                      3. Place the heat proof bowl directly in a large steamer with lid. (Considering the size of the bowl needed, you may need to use an old fashioned roasting pan wid lid. If so, keep the chicken bowl above the direct heat. I used a tin pie plate reversed with holes cut in.)
                      4. Add water to the steamer/roasting pan and steam for 4 hours. (Add more water to the steamer when required.)
                      5. After four hours, remove and discard the chicken from the bowl. (There's no use saving the meat, it's now tasteless and not even good for chicken salad.)
                      6. Cool the stock and remove any fat.

                      The result will amaze you. I freeze part of this stock in ice cube trays. One cube equals about a pint of conventional chicken stock for flavor. Used directly in Won Ton soup, your guests will not believe the intensity of the flavor.

                      Cost said this stock can be used to poach chicken. When used this way, Chinese families reserve this stock after each use calling it "master stock". Some "master stocks" have been passed down in families for over a hundred years.

                      7 Replies
                      1. re: Leper

                        Fascinating. How would they keep the master stock from spoiling?

                        1. re: Yaqo Homo

                          Yago, The stock is used every week for poaching. The constant reuse keeps it from spoiling. (As long as it's boiled weekly.)

                        2. re: Leper

                          gosh, that sounds a whole lot better than buying a roasted chicken just to get the carcass to make stock (yeah, I'm a loser).

                          Does it matter what kind of chicken - boy or girl? young or old? how big of a birdie?

                          in the heat-proof bowl containing the chicken and the 8-10 cups of water . . . is there any recommendation on the depth of water relative to the chicken? I assume the chicken is not entirely submerged.

                          are you reserving the liquid that's left in the bowl or the liquid at the bottom of the steamer / roasting pan?

                          what temp are you steaming at? and how often, approximately are you replacing water? how deep is the steaming water at the bottom of the roasting pan?

                          WHY on earth can I not visualize this?

                          It sounds so fun - I am totally going to do it. Gotta love 4 hours of steaming a chicken, my husband will think I've gone mad.

                          1. re: orangewasabi

                            Orangewasabi, The age of the chicken doesn't matter. The chicken is close to fully submerged; you use the liquid from the chicken bowl, not the water from the steamer. As to temperature, use the lowest possible temperature to insure a constant level of steam. Just keep an eye on the water used for steaming and add additional when needed. While your husband may think you've gone mad, he'll look at you as a goddess when he tastes this nectar. Don't forget to freeze some in ice cube trays. Add to any dish that asks for stock or chicken broth; the flavors will be far more enhanced. The book, Bruce Cost's Guide to Asian Ingredients, is currently out of print; however, you can find it at www.abebooks.com. It's a terrific guide to authentic Asian cooking.

                            1. re: Leper

                              thanks for the 411. now I'm wondering, would this same method work for a beef broth, and if so, any thoughts on what should go in the bowl?

                          2. re: Leper

                            May I ask..what is the purpose of step #1? Why put boil the chicken and throw out the water when making stock? It seems counterproductive. Why throw chicken flavor away? Have you tasted the water you are throwing away. Does it taste bad? If so why. INquiring minds want to know!

                            1. re: Rhee

                              The reason you parboil the chicken, then discard the water is to draw off blood which will turn to scum when the chicken is steamed. If you don't care about it, don't do this step. In Chinese cooking, it's also done with other kinds of raw meaty bones when making soup/stock.

                          3. "are ALL differing concentrations of the exact same thing"

                            I strongly disagree. They are things with different amounts of the some of the same things. That's like saying wine, whiskey and beer are "exactly the same things" because they're all primarily ethyl alcohol and water. Or beef, chicken and fish are the exact same thing because they're all carbon based life forms, composed of muscle tissue which is quite simliar across species lines. Etc.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: MikeG

                              Wine, whiskey and beer all have different flavor compounds and thus taste completely different. So do chicken, beef and fish (obviously). I'm not saying

                              Glace
                              Demi
                              Jus
                              Fond
                              Stock
                              Broth
                              Drippings

                              have 'primarily' the same compounds or that they're 'similar' in certain ways, I'm saying the compounds that are produced are identical. Rendered/emulsified fat, collagen/amino acids, sodium/minerals, maillard compounds and water. Fond/diluted fond (jus) will generally have more maillard compounds than stock, but, if one needed fond but only had stock, heavy reduction can and does make up the difference.

                              The chemistry is sound. There's nothing going on in a roasting pan that isn't going on in a stockpot. The exact same reactions occur, just at a slower rate.

                            2. Back to the original question...doesn't it sound like the Bison guy just put the meat and bones in the broiler, collected the drippings, and put them in a plastic pint? Am I just getting hung up on the words? I'm not seeing water...

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: ronla

                                Nah, Ronla, you're not crazy...
                                Having chatted with some folks who make game meat roasts, and others who make stocks for commercial distribution, I have a feeling that Yaqo's "Stock made from drippings" is likely a very basic stock made from the fond of many roasting pans (I got more than a gallon of drippings off of 8 whole ribeyes, and a TON of fond), and some crushed bones and scraps from the rest of the butchering operation. Some companies that produce stocks and bases are proud of the aromatic vegetables they use and laud the depth of flavors, while other processors tout the "purity" of their meat & bone only.

                                My two cents on the whole "broth vs. Stock" discussion: Broth is seasoned and ready to have ingredients added to it, while stock is unseasoned and ready to be used as an ingredient.

                                PS- Scott123, I really appreciate your depth of food chem appreciation- where did you train? And was it in culinary or chemistry?

                              2. This notion that "stocks are made with bones and broths are made with meat" comes from a very contemporary tradition of shortcuts in the kitchen. Traditionally, there is NO difference between a stock and a broth besides intended use. There are many ways to make a stock. It's called broth when its intent is to be used as it is, rather than as a base for a sauce.

                                Before the shortcuts of the Nouvelle Cuisine era, stocks were always made with both meat and bones. It would have been considered unthinkable to make stock with nothing but bones, as is common today mid-level restaurants. Even in the early 20th century, stewards of the french traditions (Escoffier most notably) prescribed making a double stock: an initial preparation from gelatinous bones, which is then used as the base for the final stock, which uses copious amounts of meat. Few have the time and money for this anymore, but it's still possible to use the minimal shortcut of using both meat and bones in a stock. For example, 1/3 beef meat on the bone, 1/3 veal meat on the bone, 1/3 lean split beef or veal shin bones.

                                The exception to this is when making stock for glace de viande, which should be made with all gelatinous bones. Meat glace is intended to contribute gelatin and roasted flavors; its long reduction evaporates most of the volatile chemicals that make meat jus taste like meat.

                                A true demiglace, which is reduced much less, should be made from stock that contains significant amounts of meat. You will taste the difference immediately. The only people I know who dispute this are ones who have never tasted a properly made one (which includes most mid-level chefs and culinary school graduates, sadly). And if you're using the stock as a broth (for soup, etc.) there's just no comparison. A bone-based stock will never have the depth and flavor of one made with meat.

                                For sources, please take a look at James Peterson's Sauces, Raymond Sokolov's The Saucier's Apprentice, or Escoffier's Le Guide Culinaire.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: paulraphael

                                  There's more than a little correct in what you say, PR!
                                  While it is undeniably accurate to say that pre-nouvelle chefs would be aghast at the paucity of meat in modern stocks, let alone the single-strength preperation and single simmer!
                                  It is also true that cattle are slaughtered younger so the meat by itself contains less connective tissue. To avoid the cost of both money (a lot of meat from any cut at current prices woud drive up plate costs) and time (reducing stock instead of thickening) Nouvelle cusine techniques result in afordable and reasonably tasty stocks that can be incorporated or enhanced with ease.
                                  Being both a culinary school graduate and having been a cook in "mid-level restaurants" and for high end private caterers, as well as a frequent stock maker at home, I have tasted/made/had meat only, double strength demiglace. Yes, it was good, but for a busy high volume kitchen well stocked with aromatic vegetables, fresh herbs and quality spirits, the stock based sauces I have produced have had enough body and depth with a demi reduced from a single strength, meaty-bone simmer.
                                  As I've mentioned in other threads, I usually go half and half beef & veal meaty joints with something like pork neck bones added for extra body.
                                  And again, returning to the original question posted, though it is POSSIBLE that this buffalo company is making their stocks from 100% meat, It is an inefficient use of trimmings, offal, and bones- they are likely making stock with the leftovers from their butchering operation.
                                  Modern commercial kitchens don't have legions of apprentices (interns- bwahahaha!) who can tend cauldrons of stocks for the 20+ hour process of a multiple strength, multiple reduction stocks of centuries past. Indeed, that's why nouvelle cuisine flourished and spread- "shortcuts" streamlining redundant processes, making the flow of ingredients and personnel more efficient.

                                2. Is this stock, broth, or soup?

                                  1 bag chicken carcasses from my neighbourhood Korean supermarket
                                  water
                                  1 onion quartered
                                  1 carrot roughly chopped
                                  smashed garlic cloves
                                  cracked black peppercorn
                                  2 bay leaves
                                  salt

                                  Simmer, skim, strain, and reduce.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: mrbozo

                                    Can't keep me outta this thread with a pointy stick!
                                    Well, MrBozo, if you simmered the ingredients above until you extracted every last flavor molecule from them, then tossed all the soilds and only kept the resulting liquid, I'd be confident calling it a stock (unless it is seasoned fully enough to eat and enjoy as is, in which case I'd call it a broth).
                                    If you just simmered it enough to soften the ingredients and infuse the liquid with wonderful flavor, then removed the herbs and spices, but kept the chicken and the veg with the intent to return them to the pot, I'd just call it a soup in progress!
                                    In either case, a matzo ball would not be remiss!

                                  2. After reading thru all these replies I am slightly crosseyed and a little confused so I have gone down and pulled out my Larousse Gastronomique and found this:

                                    stock FOND
                                    A flavored liquid base used for making a sauce, stew, or braised dish. A white stock (fond blanc) is prepared by placing the ing. directly into the cooking liquid; in a brown stock (fond brun) the ing. are first browned in fat. Sauces made with white stock are white sauces whether they are basic or variation sauces (e.g. allemande, poulette, aurore, supreme etc) all sauces made with brown stock are called browmn sauces (e.g. espagnole, bordelaise, Bercy, piquante etc.)
                                    Stocks can be used n their thickened or unthickened form. They are based on veal, beef, poulrty, game, vegetables, aromatic ingredients, or fish.
                                    There are three main types of stock
                                    white stock made with white meat or poultry, veal bones, chix carcasses and aromatic veg.
                                    brown stock is made with beef, veal, poultry meat and bones, and vegwhich have been browned in fat and then had the liquid added to them. Used to make brown sauces and gravies and for making glazes by reduction.
                                    vegetable stock is made by boiling vegetables and aromatic herbs which have been gently fried in butter.
                                    In general they are aromatic but not salty.

                                    There was a whole lot motre so this is just paraphrased.

                                    1. i think, to try to answer the op question, and assuming that lunchbox is correct in thinking that the item bought at the greenmarket is indeed a "simple stock" with no seasonings added (& i think he's probably right)-- that Yago Homo ought to EITHER:

                                      1. simmer the simple stock with added aromatics-- onion, carrot, celery, bay leaves, & opional ingredients: tomato paste or tomato trimmings, peppercorns, garlic, herbal stems or non-soft leaf herbs, etc, then add salt to taste, & use the resulting broth or stock in his desired dish

                                      or

                                      2. in a long-simmered dish, like oxtails, incorporate these same aromatics into the simmering of the final dish to flavor the broth as the dish cooks-- may wish to remove some of the aromatics partway thru and then "brighten" the dish with fresher stuff more toward the end of the cooking time-- can usally figure out if this would work from the recipe

                                      & when the dish is wildly successful, probably may consider making his own broths/stocks! it is fun, easy & economical & the quality of every dish you use them in will improve leaps & bounds