Becoming a "Serious" Home Cook

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by cardello, Jan 8, 2015.

  1. cardello

    cardello

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    Hello!  I enjoy cooking and have been diving in heavily over the last couple of years learning recipes and a few techniques (most drawn from Ruhlman's 20).  Some of my favorite things to do are sauté meat/fish and use the fond to make a nice pan sauce to pour over the meat and sides.  I enjoy making salads and my own dressings.

    My question to you real chefs is this - how can I program my home routine to help me learn professional techniques?  I picked up a copy of The Professional Chef put out by CIA among other books that I hope can guide my learning.

    So tonight I am making a brown beef stock, following the instructions for brown veal stock.  I am having trouble understanding whether I should cool and store the ~gal of stock I will make, reserve some to make other "downstream" sauces like demi-glace, or a "jus" of sorts. . . 

    Can anyone give me some ideas on how to use this beef stock in recipes?  Or can you please provide guidance on how a serious home cook should go about making stocks/glaces/etc for future use?  Any other ideas or tips for the beginner?

    Thanks, everyone!  This seems like a really great community and I look forward to sharing my experiences with you as I continue to evolve as a "home chef."

    David
     
  2. teamfat

    teamfat

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    Welcome to Cheftalk! It is, indeed, a "really great community" as you say. While there are thousands of members, the majority of the posts come from a much smaller group of people that you will get to know as you go along.  You may want to check out this thread to sort of get acquainted with some of the regulars.

    Others will chime in no doubt on uses for stock other than making soup. There was a recent thread which mentioned a 72 hour beef stock, I have plans to try that with a pho recipe soon. One quick tip is that most folks either omit salt in the stock or use it very sparingly. If it is a general purpose stock that may be reduced heavily later in the future you don't want to concentrate the salt. If it is a small batch with a specific purpose then heavy seasoning may be acceptable.

    Enjoy your stay.

    mjb.
     
  3. koukouvagia

    koukouvagia

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    I like to make stock and portion it out to quart and 1/2 quart containers and store in the freezer. Make sure you label and date your stock!

    Stock is great not just for gravy and jus but also for pasta dishes and risotto. You can also use it to make soup.
     
  4. cardello

    cardello

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    Great, thanks!  I have heard it is best not to put salt in the stock for the reasons you describe.  When I taste the stock as it's cooking I take a spoonful and add a little salt to that.
    Cool, thanks.  Do you mind elaborating on the difference between "gravy" and "jus"?
     
  5. cardello

    cardello

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    Cool.  Yeah I definitely didn't plan on using any salt in the stock - picked that tidbit up already somewhere along the way.  It sounds like, for the home cook at least, batches of stock are typically portioned and frozen for future use.  Am I correct in thinking that these frozen portions of stock can be used to make other stock/sauce components?  What are some of the stock/sauce components that use brown beef stock as an ingredient?
     
  6. koukouvagia

    koukouvagia

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    Not sure if this is technically right but to me they are the same, pan drippings that are enhanced with stock except that gravy is thickened with starch and jus is not.
     
  7. cardello

    cardello

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    So for recipes in the book that call for demi-glace, can I basically just reduce this brown beef stock?  If so, by how much?
     
  8. genemachine

    genemachine

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    Demi is generally thickened with roux, though. My standard recipe calls for half beef / half veal, too.

    Making demi-based sauces with just a reduced stock works perfectly well, too, though. For that I reduce the stock to the point where it starts to gel when cooling. I make a big pot of stock every couple of weeks, refrigerate it overnight (helps to solidify the last bits of fat in it, so you can easily skim it off next morning), and freeze it in portions. Those I can thaw when needed and use as a base for sauces (try a sauce charcutiere with pork, it's glorious), for risottos, to give pasta sauces a bit more kick, etc. 

    A nice book on the classic french sauces is Sokolov's "The saucier's apprentice".
     
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  9. cardello

    cardello

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    Ok so I put the stock in the refrigerator overnight and just removed the layer of fat on top.  The stock looks good, but is not gelling as much as I had hoped - could this be because it didn't reduce enough?  I mean, it's kind of, eh, syrupy, but I have made stocks in the past that gelled more.  I was supposed to wind up with 1 gal, but it looks like there are maybe 5 or 6 quarts left.  Can I throw it back on the stove to reduce further?  What would you all recommend?
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2015
  10. genemachine

    genemachine

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    For it to gel, I use a lot of bones. Main question, however, is - how is the taste and the mouthfeel? When working it into a sauce, you will bind it with butter, for example, anyway. Reducing it too far can make the taste unpleasant, too.
     
  11. spoiledbroth

    spoiledbroth

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    Last edited: Jan 8, 2015
  12. genemachine

    genemachine

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    And that clarified butter and the flour in the espagnole stage does not make a roux? If I may cite your own link: 
    1. Prepare a brown roux with flour and butter. Cool.
    2. Bring stock to boil, incorporate roux.
     
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  13. m buchanan

    m buchanan

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    I'm like you Cardello. I've looked at getting the same book, but haven't yet. I would like your input/review about the CIA book. Is it more or less a textbook? And how hard is it to follow, or translate? And is it worth the price?
     
  14. ordo

    ordo

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    People these days are in urge of quick answers.
     
  15. cardello

    cardello

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    Well I have only had the book for a few days, and I'm doing my best to take it from square one.  I'll try to keep you posted.
     
  16. cardello

    cardello

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    I couldn't agree more!  Was there something in this thread that prompted this thought?
     
  17. cardello

    cardello

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    I tasted it cold after skimming the fat, and it struck me as somewhat watery and lacking in beef flavor.  Would these be caused by insufficient reduction and no use of actual meat?  Should I include beef cuts in addition to bones (this time I used a combo of marrow bones and knuckles - 8 lbs. in 6 quarts of water) in a stock?  What cuts?  What is the difference between a 'stock' and a 'broth' then?
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2015
  18. teamfat

    teamfat

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    I think I'll sit out this round of the eternal question.

    mjb.
     
  19. spoiledbroth

    spoiledbroth

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    thought you were saying roux + stock
     
  20. genemachine

    genemachine

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    I always have some meat in it for getting the flavour boosted. Shank or shin, oxtail, veal tail are all good to use there.
    Yeah, sorry. Cut my comment a bit short - I was referring to the full preparation like the one you quoted. I still hold the opinion that you can substitute a clear, reduced stock for the demi in many of the classic sauce preparations.
     
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