STOCK |mirepoix |

STOCK |mirepoix |


The importance of stock in the kitchen is indicated by the French word for stock: FOND, meaning foundation or base. In classical cuisine, the ability to prepare good stocks is the most basic of all skills, because so much of the work in the kitchen depends upon them. A good stock is the base for soups, sauces, gravies and stews. In the modern kitchen however, stock has lost some of its relevance and importance. Stock requires labor and moreover, the trend towards lean food without sauces means that today, stocks are not that necessary. Also the advent of the convenience stock cube, paste or powder has made the traditional stock making a bit obsolete. Nevertheless, the finest cuisine still depends on high quality stock. So stock making still remains an essential skill. Stocks are never served by themselves but are components of other dishes.

Stock is a flavorful and nutritious extract/liquid made by the careful simmering of meat and meat bones, or fish and fish bones plus aromatic vegetables, seasoning and flavoring.

The preparation of stock has been simplified in many ways since the days of Escoffier. However its relevance and use in the modern day kitchen has not diminished. There are three basic stocks used nowadays in the kitchen:

White Stock or Fond Blanc
Brown Stock or Fond Brun or Estouffade
Fish Stock or Court Bouillon or Fumet (reduced fish stock)

As per the definition, there is no such thing as a `vegetable stock’ but the cooking liquor obtained from cooking vegetables could be used in the place of stock in some cases and should be referred to as `pot liquor’.



Bones are the major ingredients in the making of stock. Most of the flavor and the body of stock are obtained from the bones of beef, veal, chicken and other poultry and fish. Occasionally, lamb, goat, pork and game bones are used for specific purposes. The kind of bones used would ofcourse indicate the type of stock.
Chicken stock is made from chicken bones
Veal stock is made from veal bones
Fish Stock is made from fish bones and
Beef stock is made from beef bones

Chicken and veal stock is called White Stock whereas Beef Stock is referred to as Brown Stock. The bones for brown stock are first browned in the oven so as to give the special color. Lamb, turkey and have specialized uses.

There are two important factors to keep in mind here:

1. Meat and bones contain connective tissues called collagen. On heating, these break down and form gelatin and it is this gelatin that gives `body’ to the stock. Body is an important feature in stock making and is a quality indicator. A well made stock will thicken and even solidify when chilled.

2. Cartilage is the best source of gelatin in bones. Younger animals have more cartilage in their skeletons. As they get older, these harden into solid bone which is harder to dissolve into the stock. On the joints of major bones, there is knuckle bone, have a lot of cartilage and are valued in stock making.Shank bones and neck bones are also used a great deal.

Large bones are cut into smaller pieces, about 3” long. This exposes more surface area and aids maximum extraction. These smaller pieces of bones are easier to handle and fit easily into the stockpot.


Because of its cost, meat is rarely used nowadays in stock making. However, in the classical methods, large pieces of tougher cuts of meat were used to add flavor, taste, and nutritive value and to give body to the stock. Of course, suitable meats would be used. Beef for beef stock, chicken for chicken stock etc.


Aromatic vegetables are the second most important ingredients used to make stock. These add to the flavor and will include onion, carrot, celery and leeks. When these vegetables and roughly cut and mixed together, they are referred to as a mirepoix. (Pronounced: Meer pwah). A mirepoix is used in all areas of cooking as a flavoring and not just in stock making. So you will come across this term often. To make 400 GMS of mirepoix you will need:
200 GMS onion & leeks (without the green portion)
100 GMS of carrot &
100 GMS of celery.
To make mirepoix for a white stock, omit the carrot. This is done so as to obtain a colorless stock. As I have mentioned earlier, the vegetables of a mirepoix are roughly cut. The size depends on for how long you will cook the stock. Cooking times of the various stocks will vary, as you will learn later in this chapter.


Acid products help to dissolve the connective tissue present in meat and bones. Tomato products (paste and puree or juice) are used in brown stocks but would discolor white stock. Lemon juice or white vinegar is a commonly used acid product. Wine is occasionally used especially for fish stocks. However, its flavor contribution is more important than its acidity.


These are constantly being added into the stockpot over a period of time. This may or may not be a good idea. Scraps and leftovers may be added if they are clean and appropriate to the stock being made. Remember that the stockpot is not a garbage disposal unit and the final product is only as good as the ingredients that are used.


1. Salt is used in minute quantities in stock making. They help to bring out the natural flavors in the stock. However, stock is rarely served as it is but is part of some other dish, which will have its own seasoning. Moreover, stock is always concentrated before use.
2. Herbs and spice should be used only lightly. They should never dominate a stock or have a very pronounced flavor. Herbs and spices are normally tied in a muslin (cheese) cloth and introduced into the stock. This is known as a sachet (which is French for a bag). A bouquet garni is a kind of sachet, which uses parsley stalks, thyme, bayleaf and peppercorn. This is the ideal combination for stock making.

Many chefs use ratios to help them remember the basic proportion of the ingredients used in stock making.

Bones: 50%

Mirepoix: 10%

Water: 100%

However, given here is a more detailed ratio of the ingredients used.

For 4 liters of stock

Ingredients White Brown Fish
Stock Stock Stock

Bones 2.5kg 2.5kgs 2kgs
Mirepoix 500g 500g 250g
Water 5lit 5lit 4lit
Sachet 1 no 1no 1no
Tomato product -- 250g --
White Wine -- -- 250ml


Making stock may seem to be a simple procedure. However, there are many steps involved. You must understand not only what to do, but also why you are doing it.

Blanching of the Bones:

We know that proteins coagulate when heated. Many proteins dissolve in cold water, but solidify into small particles or into froth and scum when heated. It is these particles that make a stock cloudy. Much of the method of stock making involves avoiding cloudiness of stock to produce a clear one. The purpose of blanching the bones is to rid them of the impurities, which cause cloudiness. The bones of young animals are highest in blood and other impurities that cloud and discolor stocks. Chefs tend to disagree on the importance of blanching. Some feel that the process causes flavor loss. Others feel it is necessary to produce a clear stock. Fish bones are not blanched because of their short cooking time. Blanching involves the following steps:
1. Cut bones into small pieces and rinse in cold water. This washes off the blood and some of the other impurities. This step is especially important if the bones are not absolutely fresh.
2. Place the bones in a stockpot and cover with cold water. Remember, impurities dissolve easily in cold water.
3. Bring the water to a boil. As the water heats, impurities solidify (coagulate) and rise to the surface as scum.
4. Drain the bones and rinse them well. The bones are now ready for the stockpot.
5. To make brown stock, one more step is involved: Browning of the bones in the oven. This will impart the required color to the stock.

Procedure for preparing stock:

1. Add the blanched bones to cold water.
2. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.
3. Skim the scum that rises to the surface, carefully.
4. Add the mirepoix and the sachet. (add tomato products if used)
5. Do not let the stock boil rapidly. Keep it at a low simmer. Boiling makes the stock cloudy.
6. Skim the surface as often as required.
7. Keep the water level above the bones. Cooking bones exposed to air will turn them dark and discolor the stock.
8. Simmer for the recommended time:
9. Brown stock: 6 to 8 hours
White stock: 3 to 4 hours
10. Skim the surface and strain the stock through a clean muslin/Tammy cloth.
11. Cool the stock as quickly as possible. Cooling the stock quickly and properly is important. Improperly cooled stock can spoil easily because it is a good breeding ground for bacteria. Do not refrigerate hot stock. It will damage the refrigerator and cause other foods to spoil as well.

Note: For Brown Stock, the mirepoix may be browned with the bones.
When the bones are half browned, add the mirepoix. However, some chefs prefer to add the mirepoix directly to the stock.


Fish stock is prepared from fish bones obtained after cleaning, cutting, trimming and filleting fish. These are thoroughly washes and then allowed to sweat in a little oil or butter in a covered pan over medium heat. Water is then poured into the pan and brought to a boil. The scum formed is skimmed off regularly and the mirepoix added before allowing the stock to simmer for 20 to 25 minutes. Because of the short cooking time involved, fish stock is often referred to as Court Bouillon (court meaning short in French).


Stocks can be concentrated by boiling or simmering them to reduce them and evaporate part of the water. This is called reduction or reducing.

A glaze is a stock that is reduced till it coats the back of a spoon. It is so concentrated that is solid and rubbery when refrigerated. Glazes are used as flavorings in sauce making and in some meat, fish, poultry and even vegetable preparations. Only small amounts are needed, as they are very concentrated. There are three types of glazes:

1. Meat glaze made from brown stock.
2. Chicken glaze or glace de volaille made from chicken stock.
3. Fish glaze or glace de poisson made from fish stock (sometimes called Fumet).

The cost, both in terms of money, material and time of making stocks in the kitchen has lead to the widespread use of concentrated convenience products known as bases. The may be powders or pastes which are diluted with water to make a flavored liquid similar to stocks. Nestle, Maggi and Knorr are the leading international manufacturers of these bases.

Glazes can be considered to be bases, and in fact they are the original bases, used long before the modern versions.

Bases vary greatly in quality. The best stock  are composed mainly from meat extracts. These are perishable products and need to be refrigerated. However, a lot of bases are primarily salt (an expensive way of buying salt). Read the list of ingredients on the box or packet and avoid those, which list salt first!


- Bases can be improved by simmering them with a little mirepoix, meat trimmings and bones. This improves the taste and gives a `fresher’ and more natural flavor to the stock.
- Bases can be added to stocks to supplement their flavor and taste and reduce the cooking time.
- Bases are added to stocks to supplement them when only a little is on hand.

There is no substitute for a well-made stock. But it is also true that a good base may be better than a poorly made stock!!

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