I love to tinker in the kitchen and must admit that my fundamental cookings skills consists of what I have learnt from friends, cooking lessons and cook books. Short of attending culinary school, I can glean tips and learn techniques from the cooking masterclasses I have attended. One the main skills to have is the ability to make a decent stock which can be used in a multitude of recipes.
I recently asked Steve Smith, Head Chef of Michelin Star Bohemia Restaurant in Jersey, a few questions about making stock and he filmed a video to answer my questions and to demonstrate making a mushroom stock. If you prefer, you can read the transcript below.
Steve says that the biggest fundamental difference between professional chefs and home cooks is their stocks. A good stock can improve the food the make at home, whether it is soup or risotto.
Question: Which stock is the one that cooks need to know how to make?
Steve: Chicken stock is the most versatile and you can use it in a lot of dishes.
How to make mushroom or vegetable stock
He demonstrates making mushroom stock. Firstly by chopping up some shallots.
Always add a pinch of salt into whatever stock that you are making as this brings out the flavour of the meat or veg that you are making.
Start off with a gentle heat, add some olive oil into the pot, add shallots and mushrooms and cook to soften and release some of the juice.
Add 3 tbsp Madeira wine and 2 litres of water, a good pinch of salt and a few sprigs of thyme which will give a bit of strenght to the stock. Put the lid on the pressure cooker for 10 minutes and you will then have a really intense stock. In a normal pot, boil for abou 30 minutes.
Question: What is the secret of making a good stock?
Steve: The secret ingredient for making the best stock is to start off with the best ingredients.
Question: I see veal stock used in a lot of recipes, why veal stock?
Steve: Veal stock is used for thickening as a base for sauces. It’s very versatile and manages to carry anything that is added to it and is there as a background flavour. Use it to give other sauces a body in conjunction with a different stock.
Question: What is the biggest mistake that people make when making stock?
Steve: The biggest mistake is overcooking the stock. For chicken stock you need to cook it for 2 1/2 to 3 hours and for mushroom or vegetable stock should take no more than half an hour.
Steve Smith has recently been appointed the head chef at the Bohemia Restaurant. You can watch a few more videos with more cooking tips at www.bohemiajersey.com
Bohemia at The Club Hotel & Spa, Jersey