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Add Profound Flavor To Almost Any Recipe With A Savory Stock! Part II

Updated on October 11, 2009

You can use darn near anything to magnify the depth and profound savouriness of your stocks!

  • Make a stock out of every vegetable you have kicking around as a delectable base for a risotto
  • A roasted garlic stock does wonders for any meat dish
  • The carcass from a roast chicken is perfect for the stock pot
  • Use corn cobs to prepare a base for a corn chowder
  • Tomato trimmings and ends (not vines) make a great base for the preparations of soups
  • Don't use a compost bucket... make a stock out of it all (except fruit and anything rotten, of course...)

However, the single greatest stock tip is: Never throw away any crustacean, shrimp, etc. shells: Most of the flavor is in the shells, so boil and chinoise them down to a great seafood stock!

To my culinary sensibilities this was the only way to make a stock. To boil and boil and boil and then crush the living daylights out of the piping hot crunchy goo in a chinoise. To just bring home a can from the store and dump it into a fine dish was nothing short of sacrilege!

However, I do have to now begrudgingly admit that the newer stocks in tetra type boxes are effectively indistinguishable from a proper home made stock. I'm not one to use anything but the freshest ingredients but I believe that modern food technology has finally won me over when it comes to stocks. There are countless quality brands available, such as:

  • Campbell
  • College Inn
  • Emeril's
  • Kitchen Basics
  • Pacific
  • Swanson
  • Wolfgang Puck
  • Wylers

Keep in mind that I'm only discussing already hydrated stocks in mostly tetra boxes and some cans. A soup cube is not a stock... it's a salt lick!

There is nothing at all that is able add a marvelous depth of flavor to almost any dish more than a magnificent stock base, and with the newly available commercial stocks, there is absolutely no reason not to take advantage of the amazing improvement that stock can bring to any dish. You can find a use for stocks in at least half of all your savory recipes. Let your imagination run wild and try it, you'll like it!

Now on to the other side of the spectrum, there are and overwhelming number of home cooks and even restaurant chefs who simply use water as a base for their dishes. There are some significant disadvantages to using just water as it provides no taste, and then you must use more salt to make up for that failing. In Chef Prudhomme's book Louisiana Kitchen, the great Chef states that "even if you don't have much time, using a stock simmered 20 to 30 minutes is far better than using just cold water in any recipe." Those are great words from a great chef and absolutely true.

Chef Paul Prudhomme has a couple of different things to about cooking with water. In another one of Chef Prudhomme's books, Kitchen Expedition, he says that, "water is just for washing". He has also said that he wanted to exclaim to the world that " Water is good to put big ships on". (Let's not even mention what comedy legend W.C. Fields had to say about it... "I never drink water, fish f*** in it!") That does provide a significant indication that you don't really want to cook with nothing other than plain old water! Cuisine is all about adding layers of flavor, not watering everything down to bland nothingness!

In conclusion, there is absolutely no substitute for a great stock in conjunction with cooking. Use your water for washing your car, or even your dishes. Stocks are the way to go (and I don't mean the Stock Market... especially lately).

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