Today was about making veal and chicken stocks and bechamel and tomato sauces.
Chefs Eric and Gilles took the demo again and jumped straight into making the stocks.
For the veal stock they had a veal knuckle bone, which is about the size of my head!
A little oil was heated in a wide shallow pan and the bone put in to brown on one side. Once it was browned on one side it was turned to brown on each side then the whole pan placed in a hot oven to continue browning.
Meanwhile they roughly cut some onions, carrots and celery for the stock. The cut used is called mirepoix and doesn’t have a specific size unlike many of the other vegetable cuts. Instead it is cut depending on the cooking time. In this case, it will be cooked for at least 6 hours so it can be cut quite chunky.
Once the bone had browned well in the oven, it was put aside and the mirepoix was browned in the pan, on the stove and some tomato purée added and allowed to keep browning. Once browned, the pot was deglazed with white wine to get all the colour and flavour from the bottom of the pan. The acidity of the tomato and wine helps to extract the gelatine from the bones. Some mushroom trimmings can also be added to the browning vegetables.
Eventually the bone (and others) would be put in a large pot, well covered with cold water, brought to a simmer and skimmed of the scum rising to the surface. Once well skimmed, the mirepoix is added and simmered for 6 or more hours, skimming regularly.
The chef said 6 to 8 hours was a minimum, while some places might cook it for as long as 48 hours.
Meanwhile, the chefs made some chicken stock. Similar process, but this was to be a white stock so no browning was required. Chicken wings were put in a pan, covered with water and brought to a simmer and again skimmed. Once well skimmed, mirepoix of onions and celery was added, the carrot omitted as it would colour the stock. The mirepoix here was much smaller as it would only be cooked for a couple of hours.
Next the chefs made a couple of basic sauces: Bechamel and Tomato sauce.
Bechamel is a simple milk and roux sauce with a few flavourings. A roux of butter and flour was cooked gently for a couple of minutes and allowed to cool.
In a separate pan milk was heated with a pinch of nutmeg, a bouquet garni and a clove studded onion to flavour it. Once simmering it was left to infuse for a short while, then slowly whisked into the cool roux and then brought to a simmer to thicken completely, strained and seasoned.
Tomato sauce, the French way, is a rather unexpected creation and nothing like the tomato sauce used on pizzas and other Italian cooking, which is essentially just tomatoes, which have been blended into a puree. The French version is a sauce thickened with flour and has lots of other ingredients in addition to the tomatoes.
First a mirepoix was sautéed in butter, then fresh tomatoes, which had been cored and chopped, were added, as well as some tomato purée. A little flour was added and then plenty of chicken stock was added along with a bouquet garni and the sauce allowed to simmer for 30 mins. It was then strained to remove the vegetables, seasoned and was complete.
In the practical we had chef John, a tall and laid back Canadian chef.
We started making the chicken stock as this would take most of the class to cook.
Once that was going we each browned a veal bone and the mirepoix to go with it. The cooking of the stock would be done in the preparation kitchen with all the bones from the class as there wasn’t enough time in our class.
We made the chicken stock, bechamel and tomato sauce just as in the demonstration. Can’t say I was too keen on the tomato sauce, though the chef said I had made everything well and the tomato sauce tasted ‘just like Campbell’s tomato soup’ which is apparently how it should taste!