Stock refers to a very flavorful, simmered liquid preparation, used as a base for a variety of dishes like soups, sauces and gravies. ‘Broth’ and ‘bouillon’ are other names that are synonymous to stock. Stock is usually made from certain animal portions or vegetables which are cooked in water so as to be able to impart their characteristic flavors to the cooking liquid. Meat, bones, skin, fish, mirepoix (mix of onions, carrots, celery aromatics), herbs, and spices are all common stock ingredients.
Difference between Stock and Broth
While the terms broth and stock are often used interchangeably, there may exist a subtle difference between the two. There are many varying opinions in this regard. While some people consider stocks to be merely bones simmered in water with no added vegetables, seasoning or other additions, broth is considered to be meat boiled with vegetables, with some spices and seasonings added to the mixture. Others are of the opinion that both broth and stock can contain meat and bones, the difference being the ratio of meat to bone. Stock would contain more bone while broth more meat. Salt content could also be a differentiating factor.
In conclusion, it may be said that stocks are made primarily using bones and have a thick and gelatinous texture owing to the collagen extracted from bones and connective tissues while simmering. Broths meanwhile are made primarily with meat and can involve the use of vegetables for better results. Pure broth will stay liquid once cooled and does not have the richness of the stock making it suitable for lighter soups and as thinner fragrant base for dishes commanding a lighter flavour. Stock gelatinizes on cooling and may thus, be used in place of butter or cream to provide a thicker richer base required in certain dishes.
Bouillon, is the term used in French cuisine, to simply refer to a broth. This name originates from the verb ‘bouillir’, which means ‘to boil’. It is usually made by the process of slow simmering of ‘mirepoix’ along with aromatic herbs (usually a bouquet garni) using either beef, veal, poultry bones in addition to shrimp, or vegetables in boiling water.
Types of Stock
Stocks can be made using beef, veal, chicken, fish or vegetables. Chicken stock is however the most common variety of stock used in majority of recipes as it lends its flavours readily to a multitude of dishes belonging to diverse cuisines. Some of the stocks typically used are-
- Chicken Stock, as detailed below
- Fond blanc is a white stock, typically made using raw bones along with white mirepoix. Chicken bones are most commonly employed for fond blanc.
- Fond brun is brown stock, the brown color of which is achieved by roasting the bones and mirepoix together. This adds a distinctively rich and full-bodied flavour. Veal bones are the most commonly used for a fond brun. Tomato paste is usually added (at times a thin tomato paste is coated onto the roasting bones). The acid present in this paste facilitates break down of the connective tissue thereby accelerating the development of gelatin, apart from imparting color to the stock.
- Glace viande is basically stock made usually from veal bones that is subsequently concentrated by reduction.
- Lamb Stock requires the use of basic chicken stock as a starter to which roasted lamb neck and bones are added and boiled for about 5 hours.
- Fish Stock made using fish bones and mirepoix (mix of onions, carrots, celery aromatics) must be cooked for no more than 30 to 45 minutes in order to retain most desirable flavours. Japanese cooking makes use of ‘dashi’ which is a fish and kelp stock involving very brief cooking.
- Prawn Stock is prepared by boiling prawn shells in water and is used in Southeast Asian Gourmet Dishes like the laksa.
- Vegetable stock is made purely from a selection of vegetables only.
As Chicken Stock is widely used its preparation is detailed below-
Preparation of Chicken Stock
Although stock may readily available of the shelf at the local grocery, homemade stock is far more fresh and flavourful. Also, making the stock from scratch offers unlimited options in terms of flavours and consistency of the final product.
- Chicken Scraps (bones, gizzard, skin, chicken feet and other parts)
- Celery Stalks
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- About 6 to 10 liters of Water
1. The carrots, celery, and onions are cleaned and chopped roughly into large chunks.
2. Chicken parts, vegetables, and parsley are placed in a large stock pot along with salt and pepper.
3. Sufficient water is added to cover all ingredients well. Normally, a minimum of about 6 liters is a good enough.
4. The water is then brought to a rolling boil before heat is turned down to medium or medium-low, in order to maintain a very gentle boil.
5. This liquid is left to simmer for about 6 hours, intermittently skimming off any scum that forms on the surface.
6. The stock or broth is strained and vegetables and chicken scraps discarded.
7. The chicken broth is ready for immediate use or may be stored in the refrigerator or freezer for a couple of weeks. It may be boiled for a few minutes every three days or so in order to maintain its freshness.
Note: Salt is sometimes avoided while making a stock, since most often stocks have to be reduced while preparing soups and sauces and this would cause it to become too salty.
Nutritive Value of Traditional Homemade Chicken Stock
About 250 g of this chicken stock supplies-
Approximately 75 calories with Carbohydrates providing around 35 calories, proteins 25 and fats 20 calories per serving. While water makes up the major constituent ~ 220 g, carbohydrates account for 8.5 g, proteins 6 g and fats 3 g per serving. Stock is a good source of B-vitamins and folate as well as minerals like calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, iron and zinc.
Health Benefits of Homemade Stock
Well made home cooked stock offers the following advantages-
- Boosts immunity
- Aids digestion
- Enhances efficiency of protein utilisation
- Provides easily digestible minerals such as calcium
- Provides a rich source of Collagen, a structural protein from the bone tissues that is extremely healthy as it supports healthy skin, hair, and nails, and also protects joints.
- May improve symptoms associated with: peptic ulcers, joint pains, common cold and other infections, tuberculosis, diabetes, muscle diseases, jaundice, cancer, certain food allergies, indigestion, inflammatory bowel disorders, osteoporosis, pain and inflammation, hypertension, elevated cholesterol and allergies among others.
Depending upon the method of preparation, chicken stock can have substantial amounts of sodium. A cup serving can have as much as 350 mg of sodium. Hence, it is best to avoid salt while making the stock.