Wednesday, 16 December 2009

I'm starting a Stock Renaissance

I don't know why more people don't make stock. The word 'stock' floats in an aura of difficulty that makes people turn and run for the stock cubes. But if this difficulty perception puts people off stock making, then it must make brothy soups and risottos a triply contentious possibility, as both of these, along with many stews and braises, rely on good stock.

The thing about stock cubes is this: yes, they add a 'tastiness' to food; they change water into flavour. But they also make everything taste a little bit the same. I worked in a very popular restaurant for a while (which I won't name), whose head chef was hooked on stock cubes. No matter what we made, she would add a little bit of Massel to the mix. I think her taste buds were quite reliant on that zingy stock cube flavour, because it was quite clear to the other cooks that the soup (it was often added to these) tasted great without it, and in fact the Massel would mask all the subtle flavour interplays already going on.

So let's start a renaissance in stock making. If you haven't made stock even once in your whole life, this is a challenge for you as much as for those of you out there who've forgotten how good and simple stocks are. What I'm going to do is start at the very easiest stocks and work my way up.

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