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     All about stocks
       excerpetd from Charlie Trotter Cooks at Home


    ... more great recipes by Charlie Trotter on our GREAT CHEFS page!

    It's a challenge to operate a busy 100-seat restaurant and create new dishes each day that will inspire diners. At Charlie Trotter's, guests expect a bit of magic in every course delivered to the table. Fortunately, my job is made easier by the network of specialty food purveyors with whom I have long-standing relationships. Organic lamb from Wisconsin, truffles from the French and Italian countryside, morel mushrooms from Michigan's Upper Peninsula, and ramps from the wilds of Virginia's Shenandoah Valley are only a phone call away.

    While grocery stores across the country are expanding their offerings in response to the increased sophistication of shoppers, the home cook's access to gourmet ingredients—especially in rural areas—can still be limited. The time constraints of a demanding job and raising a family can pose further challenges, making it difficult for home cooks to orchestrate complex multicourse meals. Great food doesn't have to entail frantic foraging for ingredients and performing Herculean feats in the kitchen, however. With a few basic foodstuffs and a touch of bravado, home cooks can create flavorful dishes that will impress even the most ardent gourmet.

    The recipes in this book were created with just such a goal in mind—elevating everyday cuisine to a higher level of sophistication. The ingredient lists are necessarily simple in scope, yet I believe you'll find the resulting dishes flavorful and well worth making time and again. While you may come across the odd ingredient you aren't familiar with—say, Korea's ubiquitous table condiment,kimchi, or Japan's fiery togarashi spice blend—you may be surprised that your local store stocks it. If you don't have access to gourmet specialty stores or Asian markets, or you simply don't have time to shop, try shopping on the Internet. There are many excellent gourmet food e-commerce sites that will ship directly to your door. And, best of all, they are open twenty-four hours a day. When you are experimenting with recipes throughout the book, don't hesitate to mix and match elements from different recipes to suit your tastes and the ingredients available. Our menu at the restaurant evolves out of just such spontaneity, guided by basic considerations of taste and texture. In planning your meals, take your cue from the seasons—what looks best on the market stand is likely to taste best when it reaches the table.

    R.S.V.P. 8-qt. Stainless Steel Stock Pot with Lid
    R.S.V.P. 8-qt. Stainless Steel Stock Pot with Lid Once you own this Stockpot, you'll probably wonder how you ever got along without it. Because of its perfect size and shape, it will definitely become one of your favorite pieces of cookware, and one you'll most likely use every day. Expertly crafted of an 18/8 stainless steel, the bottom portion has a tri-ply base that promotes even heating. A tempered glass lid lets you keep an eye on what's inside.

    6-pc. Stainless Steel Stock Pot Set
    6-pc. Stainless Steel Stock Pot Set These deep pots nest inside one another and include three different sizes for all your kitchen cooking needs. Made of stainless steel, the stockpots include an 8-, 12- and 16-quart. Use the smaller one for sauces and soups and the larger one when cooking for a crowd - a big batch of seafood chowder or a spicy, Southwestern chili. A lid is included with each pot.

    Chapter One

    The Basics

    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 the sieve.

    Once you experience the new dimension the following stocks can bring to your cooking, they will become a permanent fixture in your freezer.


    Meat Stock

    • 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 as desired.



    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 dish simpler.


    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.


    Roasted Garlic

    • 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.


    Charlie Trotter Cooks at Home Charlie Trotter Cooks at Home Charlie Trotter delivers another top-notch book for the home chef's library in Charlie Trotter Cooks at Home. The over 150 recipes are a distillation of the show-stopping fare that has earned the Chicago restaurateur international acclaim. While bearing the master chef's signature style, the dishes are streamlined with an eye to basic ingredients and straightforward techniques. Trotter begins by discussing classic methods of preparing food, from braising to grilling to sauteing and then moves on the three main sections of the book-Starters, Entrees and Desserts. A model of clarity and approachability, this book will equip you with the recipes and know-how to prepare world-class cuisine in your own kitchen.


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