Monday, 19 November 2012

How's Yer Foundations

Fonds de Cuisine, literally the foundation of the kitchen, one can imagine in the great French palaces, the mass catering to a very high standard, the peak of culinary art being served to hundreds. Service would require practically military scale planning and execution. A great deal of what was produced would be using a variety of stocks. These would be being produced at a dedicated station, a production line of bubbling pots, strained stocks being reduced to perfection, when they can be distributed among the other stations for soups, sauces, stews etc. These are, literally, the foundations of the kitchen.

I make stock sometimes, but I have one pot, limited rings and limited storage, very often I need to make gravy and have no stock! There are granules, if you are partial to chemical flavours. But there are reasonably good stock cubes out there, and with due thanks to Julia Child, she offers a “correction” which gives a good approximation for a stock.

I’ve forgotten exactly what she prescribed, but this is how I do it. For three quarters of a pint of stock, in a saucepan, finely slice and dice half a shallot, half a small carrot, half a celery stick, herbs (fresh if you’ve got them or a teabag of bouquet garni) one of your chosen stock cubes and optional, but I urge you to try, a splash of Maggi Liquid Seasoning, (mainly MSG but it isn’t a dreaded chemical. It’s extracted from seaweed, mono-sodium-glutamate, Chinese have been making and using this for yonks, just don’t use too much!) In a jug measure a quarter of pint of wine (red or white depending on the meat) Julia uses vermouth, Noilly Prat, yes it’s good but expensive! I won the Euro millions last week, I won £2.80 so I’ll stick with wine. Make up the wine to a pint, add to the saucepan and bring to a simmer for 20 minutes, then strain. You should have ¾ pint, either make-up with boiling water or reduce on a fast boil to3/4. Make this up to a sauce with the usual roux of 1oz of fat and 1 oz. of plain flour.

Other tips are if you are sautéing meat; use the strained stock to deglaze the pan, added flavour. If you roasting meat, use a roasting tin with a grill rack, put all the stock ingredients in the roasting tray except the stock cube, meat goes on the grill rack. The advantage is the joint roasts well, pork still has crackling, but the steam in the oven keeps the meat moist. If you roast without water the meat juices burn and produce bitterness. The juices left in the roasting tin are strained into a fat separating jug. Again make up or reduce to ¾ pint (enough for two), the fat can be used for your roux, flavour conservation!

                                             Bon Appetit

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