Umami is so fat
November 20, 2007 11:22 AM   Subscribe

Thanksgiving is, among other things, cooking stock season. Chicken and fish stock are of course wonderful, but don't forget about veal stock, the wonderful base that led to the discovery of the fifth taste, umami. [previously].
posted by AceRock (30 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
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posted by JohnFredra at 11:42 AM on November 20, 2007

If you'd like to try unadulterated umami flavoring yourself, pickup some kombu at your local Asian market and simmer it in a stockpot for an hour for a rich broth. Yummy indeed.
posted by dead_ at 11:53 AM on November 20, 2007

I said, “Have you tasted canned stock?”

Something similar should be asked when you see someone reaching for Parmesan cheese in a cardboard tube. Cheddar, feta, just about any cheese, tastes more like Parmesan than that does.
posted by StickyCarpet at 11:58 AM on November 20, 2007

Wouldn't a package of pure MSG be the best thing to pick up if you wanted to try unadulterated umami flavoring?
posted by rxrfrx at 11:58 AM on November 20, 2007

Yeah, forget it.
posted by dead_ at 12:03 PM on November 20, 2007

To get umami, eaten some tomato, then eat some tomato that has been salted. compare and contrast.
posted by AceRock at 12:19 PM on November 20, 2007

Wouldn't a package of pure MSG be the best thing to pick up if you wanted to try unadulterated umami flavoring?

Um, no, as I said 11 days ago when this came up.
posted by digaman at 12:23 PM on November 20, 2007

If you've got a defrosted turkey in the refrigerator, using water to substitute for stock is lousy advice. Anybody can make simple turkey stock--I'm doing this tonight. Just remove the neck & giblets, rinse them and stick them in a 1-2qt pot of boiling 1-2t salted water with an onion, a carrot and a couple of celery tops. Simmer, skimming off any scum that rises, till giblets are cooked, remove them & set aside. Simmer at least 2 hours or till the neck meat is practically falling off the bone, then strain liquid--there's your stock. It makes the kitchen smell wonderful. Neck meat and giblets, the liver at least, can go in gravy, or in bits, as treats to the family pet.
posted by tula at 12:33 PM on November 20, 2007 [1 favorite]

tula, you can also buy some cheap wings and cook along with the neck meat and giblets. The more protein and collagen, the better.

I love me some good stock. About twice a year I'll make several gallons of both chicken and beef stock for use in soups, stews, pan sauces, cooking grains, or to replace water in any given recipe. I've wanted to make veal stock, but have a hard time sourcing the shanks and bones necessary.
posted by slogger at 1:09 PM on November 20, 2007

I have an unerring method for predicting when a freezer will die. It's exactly a week after I finally believe that this time I won't lose another fucking gallon or so each of veal stock and demi-glace.

I'd almost be tempted to give it up, but it's so good...
posted by MadDog Bob at 1:30 PM on November 20, 2007

Agree with this post. The amount of wasted food in America is unbelievable. Heck I make stock every time I roast a chicken, with the bones. Chicken meat is just one part, there is stock from the bones and then gravy from the giblets. It bothers me to see the amount of waste at places like KFC, they could be turning out chicken stock by the barrel full if the bones were re-used. It used to be that making stock was standard. Now we throw out the bones and buy bullion cubes or boxed watery chicken-flavored stock.

There are many tricks to making stock. One I highly recommend is putting in a bunch of parsley in the last 15 minutes or so, this releases some sort of enzyme or mineral that gives the stock a big energy boost.
posted by stbalbach at 1:37 PM on November 20, 2007


I have a masters degree and I don't even know how many different tastes there are. That doesn't seem right. Neither does calling something umami.

"This food is really fatty!"

"So's umami!"
posted by Pater Aletheias at 2:07 PM on November 20, 2007

Oh, missed the title. I see the obvious joke had been done.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 2:08 PM on November 20, 2007

Metafilter: Simmer, skimming off any scum that rises
posted by CitizenD at 2:23 PM on November 20, 2007

Metafilter: Simmer, skimming off any scum that rises
I wish they would.

Interesting, one of the big local chain stores currently has 32-ounce carton-like-boxes of BOTH Wolfgang Puck brand Stock and Emeril brand Stock for the same 2 for $4. But seriously, don't you think you'd get a lot more stock out of an Emeril?
posted by wendell at 2:35 PM on November 20, 2007

Good stock needs more than giblets and bones and skin, it needs meat. The more the better. A good stock uses up to a pound of meat per typical final serving.
posted by bz at 3:26 PM on November 20, 2007

I'd heard once that stock was made from primarily bones, and broth from primarily meat....but my googling does not confirm that at all. Hmmm.

I am also a regular stock maker-upper. I buy whole chickens for roasting (or butterflying and broiling) and I keep the ends of the wings, neck, and organs in an ever-growing freezer bag. When the bag is full, and I have a free Sunday afternoon, I put the whole batch in a big stock pot (narrow and tall) with a chunk of celery, a quartered onion, a carrot snapped into chunks, whole black pepper corns, a bay leaf or two, a couple of crushed garlic cloves, and 3 or 4 tbsp of salt.

I cover all of this with water (filtered through my Brita) and bring it to a boil, then turn down to a simmer. Over the next four hours I skim off scum, sip beer, and refill the water a little if needed.

You know it's done when the bones snap in half easily.

I pour everything through a strainer and divide up into little plastic containers which live in my freezer until I need them.

I like to sauté Brussels sprouts, cut in half, in butter, until the cut half is done, and then finish cooking them in a little of my home-made chicken stock.

I then serve them to people and brag out loud about how good they are.
posted by device55 at 5:33 PM on November 20, 2007

No, you're right. Stock shouldn't have any meat or skin. Broth is made from the meat.

If you make 'stock' from the meat and the bones and the skin, you have made soup. It's tasty, but it ain't stock.
posted by Sukiari at 7:07 PM on November 20, 2007

Thanks for confirming my suspicions, Sukiari
posted by device55 at 7:47 PM on November 20, 2007

Um, no, as I said 11 days ago when this came up.

Um, no, you are talking about a flavor in context, and we were most likely talking about an "unadulterated" flavor. If I said "I want to taste unadulterated salty flavor," would you tell me to eat some KFC? Or would you tell me to eat some damn salt?
posted by rxrfrx at 6:58 AM on November 22, 2007

Purely my experience, ymmv:

I suppose I should have been clearer: to make a flavorful stock, one needs to use plenty of meat in addition to the collagen/gelatin sources. Meat has a lot of flavor but is a poor producer of gelatin and bones and skin are a rich source of gelatin but have very little flavor.

If you consider stock to be only a thickening base for a sauce without contributing flavor then making one purely out of bones or other cartilage sources is, I suppose, fine but it has little flavor and, as far as I am concerned, little value as stock.

Also, I never allow it to boil as boiling causes the stock to go gray in a way that cannot be filtered unless you happen to have a centrifuge. For clarity, I start the pot cold and bring it to a simmer, uncovered. I periodically skim the surface to keep the evaporative process working as the beginning of the reduction. When the scum stops rising, I add aromatics such as finely diced onion, celerey and carrot along with an herb packet and continue to simmer for several hours (more for beef, less for fowl and way, way less for fish).

When that mixture has released most of its flavor, a taste will tell, I then strain the stock through cheesecloth without squeezing or pressing on the solids. Usually, I'll ladle the first portions out for filtering and then pour the rest when it is down to a controllable volume. I filter the stock a second time into several shallow bowls on ice or better, brined ice, to cool. When cooled and chilled, I remove the fat and I then have a usable stock.

Usually, I use that result as the basis for a double stock where I add finely diced meat, aromatics and some wine and, starting cold, bring it all to a simmer and allow it to reduce 10-15% before straining. If I want a very clear stock, I'll add a few whisked egg whites along with the meat and aromatics. The egg will form a sort of internal strainer as it coagulates throughout the liquid and brings particulates to the surface in a solid clump that is easily removed. If I clarify with egg then I always add quite a bit more finely diced meat because the egg can remove some of the flavor. I seldom clarify unless I am making a consomme or another dish that requires extreme flavor and clarity.

In the end, though, it is the meat that produces flavor in a stock and it is the collagen sources that add body. Both are required for good stock.
posted by bz at 9:02 AM on November 26, 2007

As I said before, you have made soup.

It's tasty BUT IT ISN'T STOCK! Stock is bones / etc only. Broth is meat. Both together is soup!
posted by Sukiari at 1:23 AM on November 28, 2007

If you are correct then vegetable stock could simply cannot exist.
posted by bz at 11:14 AM on November 28, 2007 simply cannot exist.

You are misinformed. Perhaps McGee's On Food and Cooking or The Elements of Cooking would be good reading for you.
posted by bz at 11:29 AM on November 28, 2007

Nah, I prefer The Joy of Cooking.

And, yes, vegetable stock is obviously an exception.

Simply go to any nearby culinary school or find an actual chef that was trained (not a "chef" who is self declared) and declare that stock needs meat. They will not agree with you. You have been making tasty tasty soup, which is fine and I'm sure is a pleasure to combine with other stuff. But it isn't stock any more than American Cheese is cheese.
posted by Sukiari at 4:54 PM on November 28, 2007

Hmm. Fish stock must be an exception, too, unless you make yours only with fish bones.

So, have you actually read The Joy of Cooking? I have it here in front of me and, in the "About Stocks" introduction to the chapter "Stocks & Sauces," the fifth paragraph reads:

"When choosing meat or bones for the stockpot understand that the meat adds flavor, while bones contribute body. Bones, especially those from the joints (knuckles and shoulders) of young animals, contain gelatin, which gives a stock body, and a rich smooth texture. Always use a combination of bones and meat, or look for particularly meaty bones. By definition a stock is made from more bones than meat, while a broth is made from meat."

Calling McGee and Ruhlman "self-declared chefs" is a joke, right? I mean, they are both culinary authorities of the highest order and if you go and find an actual chef that was trained and ask to see their copy of the "McGee" you will likely be handed a well-worn copy of "On Food and Cooking." It is, after all, a standard culinary reference in use throughout the world of fine cooking. Ruhlman's "The Elements of Cooking" is forwarded by Anthony Bourdain who is, by my thinking, sufficiently recognized in the culinary world that if he deigns to promote Ruhlman then, by God, the guy must know what the hell he is talking about.
posted by bz at 6:02 PM on November 28, 2007

"Calling McGee and Ruhlman "self-declared chefs" is a joke, right?"

As long as you're claiming I said things I never said, why not say I eat babies too? I have no opinions on these guys as chefs, never heard of them. I simply said, go find a real life living chef, and talk with him face to face about stock. Maybe going le Cordon Bleu and asking them about stock and broth will change your mind?

Listen. When you make stock, you use the knuckles, bones, etc. If you don't get every last little clinging bit of meat off the bones, it's not the end of the world. But when you advocate adding pounds and pounds of meat to a "stock" you are really crafting broth.

Obviously the same rules don't hold true for either seafood stock or vegetable stocks, both of which could be described more accurately as "broth" - especially if there's any meat in there.

If you advocate adding at least a pound of meat per serving to your stock, you have made soup. All the flapping and cawing in the world won't change that fact. If this is where it starts, where does it end? Can we call mustard ketchup and pork veal? Can I call spaghetti meat?
posted by Sukiari at 6:15 PM on November 28, 2007

Additionally, I dragged out my immensely heavy copy of Larousse Gastronomique and, for stock, it lists the following definitions:

"There are three main stocks:

• white stock is made with white meat or poultry, veal bones, chicken carcasses, and aromatic vegetables. It is used to make white sauces, blanquettes, fricassees, and poached chicken dishes.

• brown stock (formerly called jus brun in French) is made with beef, veal, poultry meat and bones, and vegetables which have been browned in fat and then had the liquid added to them It is used to make brown sauces and graviesm braised dishes, and brown stews, for deglazing fried meats and for making glazes by reduction.

• vegetable stock is made by boiling vegetables and aromatic herbs which have first been gently fried in butter.

In general, stocks are aromatic but not salty, since they have to remain unseasoned until the sauce is perfected. Nevertheless, an optional pinch of salt enhances the blending of the ingredients and the liquid. The meats used to make the stocks can be used afterwards to make minced (ground) dishes, purées, salpicons, stuffings, etc."

Finally, the very subject of this thread, the discoverer of the fifth taste, umami, and the inventor of veal stock, Escoffier, created these recipes for stock (from Escoffier-Online).

Okay. I'm done now.
posted by bz at 6:25 PM on November 28, 2007

Almost done... in re-reading everything, it appears to me that the clean distinction between a stock and a broth is that broth is brought to the boil. The very impurities that are undesirable in a stock are the desirable attributes of a stock.

And "pounds and pounds" of meat is generally only for a distinct stock masquerading as a soup or broth: consomme. They are not boiled but are highly clarified extractions.
posted by bz at 7:27 PM on November 28, 2007

bz, I haven't heard of this "Escoffier," so I have no opinion on him. But I do have the Joy of Cooking and... it mentions that a broth differs from a stock in that it is eaten as-is and lacks the gelatin content of a stock. It also has a recipe for "Poultry Stock" that has... a cooked chicken, duck, or turkey. And a lamb stock that includes shoulder chops. In other words, meat.

Wait a minute, what were we talking about, again?
posted by mikeh at 7:33 PM on December 1, 2007

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