Great cooking has always been about great ingredients. That holds
true for the sauces and accompaniments as well as for the main ingredients.
Although all of the recipes that follow are items that could be
purchased at the grocery store, I cannot stress enough the importance
of making these foods from scratch. There is no comparison between
canned and homemade stocks or store-bought roasted red bell peppers
packed in oil and freshly roasted red bell peppers. The homemade
version will always be more flavorful, it will be seasoned to your
taste, and it won't contain preservatives or emulsifiers.
Stocks are the building blocks of cuisine. At the restaurant, we
use some type of stock or reduction to prepare almost every dish.
Stocks are extremely versatile and can add a vast range of flavors
to your cooking. They can be infused with herbs or spices, reduced
down to any thickness, or used as bases for soups. Stocks can also
be used in place of water to add a wonderful richness and depth
of flavor to dried beans, lentils, and grains.
Making stocks and reduction sauces may seem like a time-consuming
proposition, but they really require very little preparation time.
Once they are simmering, they simply need to be skimmed every hour
or two. In one or two Sunday afternoons you can make enough stocks
and reduction sauces to last for several months. They can be frozen
in ice-cube trays, popped out in frozen cubes, and stored in plastic
bags in the freezer for several months.
There are five rules to follow when making stocks and reductions:
• Always use cold liquid. Hot water causes the protein and
fat released from the meat to emulsify, which makes the stock cloudy.
• Don't use too much liquid. The higher the proportion of
solid ingredients to liquid, the more flavorful the stock will be.
• Never allow a stock to boil. Boiling emulsifies the protein
and fat, whereas simmering allows the impurities to rise to the
surface where they can easily be skimmed off and discarded.
• Don't stir the stock after it starts to simmer. Stirring
emulsifies the protein and fat.
• When straining finished stocks, allow enough time for the
liquid to drain naturally, and do not press on the ingredients in
Once you experience the new dimension the following stocks can
bring to your cooking, they will become a permanent fixture in your
• yield: 2 quarts
6 pounds meat bones (beef, lamb, venison, or veal)
2 cups chopped carrots
2 cups chopped celery
4 cups chopped yellow onions
3 cloves garlic, peeled
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 cup chopped tomato
2 cups red wine
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
PREHEAT the oven to 450°. Place the bones in a large roasting
pan and roast for 1 hour, or until golden brown, turning the bones
after 30 minutes to ensure even browning.
COOK the carrots, celery, onions, and garlic with the canola oil
in a large stockpot over medium-high heat for 7 to 10 minutes, or
until caramelized. Add the tomato and cook for 2 minutes. Add the
red wine and cook for 15 minutes, or until most of the wine has
cooked out. Add the browned bones, bay leaf, and peppercorns and
cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and then decrease to low
heat. Simmer slowly for 6 to 8 hours, or until reduced to 2 quarts,
skimming every 30 minutes to remove the impurities that rise to
the surface. Strain the stock through a fine-mesh sieve and use
THE GOURMET PANTRY
Like the stocks, the following recipes are the building blocks
of great dishes. Different from the stocks, however, these foods
should never be frozen for later use. Freezing causes textural and
flavor changes that will affect the outcome of a dish. But all of
these recipes can be prepared ahead to make the preparation of a
Roasted Bell Pepper
• yield: 1 pepper
1 red or yellow bell pepper (or substitute a chile pepper variety)
2 teaspoons olive oil
COAT the pepper with the olive oil. Place on an open grill or flame
on the stovetop and roast, turning occasionally, for 10 minutes,
or until the pepper is completely blackened. Place the roasted pepper
in a small bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let stand for 5 minutes.
Peel off the skin and seed the peppers. Use immediately, or wrap
tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 1 day.
• yield: about 3/4 cup
4 bulbs garlic, tops cut off
3 cups milk
1/2 cup olive oil
PREHEAT the oven to 350°. Place the garlic in a small saucepan,
cover with the milk, and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes. Drain
the milk, place the garlic bulbs, bottom side down, in an ovenproof
pan, add the olive oil, and cover. Bake for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or
until the bulbs are soft. Cool the garlic in the oil and then squeeze
the soft garlic cloves out of the skins. Use immediately, or refrigerate
in the oil for up to 3 days.