It's been a busy week at school. I come home most days completely exhausted and ready to hop into bed. However, I drag my tired butt to the gym like a true diet opposed foodie. Three months ago, when I heard the word stock, I thought Dow Jones, blue chip, per share, etc. Now I think veal, chicken, white, brown, fond de veau, fumet! It's crazy how I am in such a different place in my life now.
I've been learning the basics of French cooking: stocks, sauces and soups. Stocks are the foundation for so many basic recipes. It's essential they be made correctly and well. Most nice restaurants would never dare buy prepackaged stock....homemade is the way to go! Unfortunately, most people don't have the time (or patience) it takes to allow stock to simmer (8-12 hours). Chicken stock is doable because it only requires 2-3 hours.
From stock, sauces and soups can be made. One of the coolest sauces I made was a chateauxbriand sauce that required flambeing brandy! I poured brandy into a hot pan and watched a giant flame ignite. Pretty exciting. Don't try at home!
I think it was mentioned on Top Chef that you can tell a good chef by his (or her) soup, which leads back to having a good stock. Hopefully, I'm on way to that level. Today, I learned how to make consomme...a clarified soup. It's absolutely clear and greaseless and flavored exactly like the protein (in my case, ground beef). To be able to clarify the stock correctly, a mixture of egg whites, the protein and veggies form a raft in the stock, which draws out all the fat and impurities. I was so amazed that mine turned out pretty well. Consomme can be made poorly very easily because of the precise technique needed to clarify it. It was a very proud moment indeed.