What is a better way to raise your cooking skills then learning how to make stock?

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Answered by: Tj, An Expert in the Stocks and Sauces Category
One of the greatest way to raise you cooking skills would be just simply learning how to make stock. The reason is that a good stock can work in so many different items including soups, sauces, and main dishes to bring the flavors of the vegetables and herbs.

Sixteen ounces of water will equal a pound so take how much water you have and for every two cups of water needed add a half pound of bones and one and a half ounces of vegetables. The finer the chopped the veggies are the more flavor will be imparted from them in to the stock. If you do not have a lot you can get away with chopping them or blending them before adding to the pot--just make sure to strain it later and add more vegetables when you are ready to make soup.

Most often the vegetables used is either mirepoix, white mirepoix or the creole trinity.

Mirepoix- The french classical combination of vegetables where half is chopped onion (medium dice), a quarter is chopped carrot (small dice) and the last quarter is chopped celery (medium dice)

White mirepoix- A combination where the carrot is replaced with mushrooms

Trinity- A creole mix where the carrot is replaced with green bell peppers

Depending on which color stock you want to make you have a choice to go with a white or brown stock. When learning how to make stock it could seem a bit overwhelming when actually the only difference is the vegetables and bones have been roasted before boiling.

The age of your bones will contribute to the flavor and mouthfeel of your stock and here is how. When you take bones from younger animals it has a higher amount of gelatin in them gelatin is the ingredient that will thicken the stock and make it feel more luxurious on the tongue. The negative of using young bones is that the flavor is going to be much lighter than bones taken from older animals.

While roasting bones you will need to coat the bones lightly in oil, tossing them to make sure they are thoroughly covered. Place them on a heavy baking tray or in a roasting pan and cook at 400 until the edges of the bones are holding the color of a brown paper bag, which could be anywhere from thirty minutes to an hour depending on the size of your bones. Take them out. Using a heatproof spatula or a pair of tongs turn the bones over and cover them with a can of tomato paste for every ten pounds of bones.

Doing this now will allow the paste to cook more and stick to the bones as they go in the pot. Return the bones to the oven and cook until the paste is just about to burn but has not yet.this will take about fifteen to twenty minutes. Remove the bones and vegetables from the roasting pans, and add them to the pot add your seasonings of choice except for anything with salt in it.

Taking your bones and veg into the pot you boil it down until half is left. I prefer to boil it down to a third just to save space though as you can always add some stock to water and weaken the flavors to your liking. When you have two thirds of the liquid left add a small amount of herbal seasonings with some black peppercorns and tie them up in a little bag of cheesecloth. If you do not have any cheesecloth add them directly making sure to strain before putting it in the fridge.

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