Stock, generic recipe (with sous vide pictures)

Warm your home during the cooler days, or fill a pot with the bight, crisp flavors of summer by making homemade stocks. Anything you make from it will be enhanced.Β  stock sous vide (1 of 1)-2

Myself, I enjoy the day long process of tending a near boiling pot, of skimming, of straining and adding then straining again; but the Modernists have popularized two other methods for producing stock faster with less effort:

Those made with a pressure cooker and
Those made sealed in a plastic bag then cooked in a hot water bath (sous vide).

Whatever the means, the method is the same.

stock sous vide (3 of 8)


Step one: Balance

Stocks use a portion of bones to meat. The bones add gelatin, minerals, and a particular flavor — and body, the mouthfeel of the stock. Many argue that you can make a very good stock with bones alone. I agree. However, using science, the Modernists have been attempting to prove that flavor comes solely from the meat. One classic ratio is 3 parts bone to one part meat.

Stocks also need mirepoix, a chop of onions, carrots, celery. The classic balance is 2 parts onion for one part each celery and carrot, but let taste be your guide. How much flavor is in each ingredient? Are the onions pungent, or sweet? Are the carrots and celery bland, sweet, or flavorful? Either way, rough chop them and set them aside.

Many good stocks use a bouquet garni, most commonly with thyme, parsley stems, and a bay leaf. A few cloves of garlic and/or tomato paste are sometimes part of the flavor profile as well.


stock sous vide (1 of 1)-3Step two: Brown or white?

Broadly speaking you can add all of your ingredients to the pot raw or you can add them to the pot after browning them from light golden to deep brown. Kitchen wisdom is the browner the bones, meat, vegetables going in, the more flavorful the end product. Typically chicken stocks are made white and used for sauces, or browned and made for soups. Beef and pork stocks are almost always browned to bring out the flavors in the meat.

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Step three: Cook under the boil

When making stock you do not want the water in the pot to move. Typically the water is between 80 – 95 degrees Celsius, or just below the boiling point. In sous vide it’s even lower; in a pressure cooker much higher (the high pressure prevents bubbles from moving what’s in the pot). When water boils the air moves everything in the pot. Eventually the water will become cloudy and the flavors will boil out, producing much less flavorful, unattractive stock. As a rule, when you see bubbles in the pot, turn down the heat.

How long to cook? That depends on whether you’re using bones. Bones add gelatin. When concentrated the gelatin adds a very specific mouthfeel to soups. That sensation in the mouth is called body. To maximize body you must boil bones preferably with either chicken feet, pigs trotters, or cow hooves — all available through the butcher. Typically you blanch them, then add them to a pot of cold water. Bring it up to the simmer — or just below the boil — and let them cook from 3 – 9 hours. The longer you boil them, the more gelatin you extract into you stock.

In my experience, the vegetables I can purchase are much less flavorful than those I grew up with as a boy. To make up for that lack of flavor I prepare two to three portions of vegetables (yes, three times what’s needed) and simmer them with the bones in stages. Placing a colander in the pot makes removing each batch easy, or you can remove them with a strainer. Either way, every three hours I replace the vegetables. I add the meat to that last batch of vegetables and cook the final two to three hours.

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Step four: Strain, cool, de-fat

When the stock is ready strain it through the finest strainer you have and let the stock cool to room temperature, the refrigerate overnight. A stock with body will set like jello with a layer of fat at the top. With less to no body the fat will still float to the top. Remove it. In my experience, it has no flavor and so I throw it away.

stock sous vide (8 of 8)


22 Comments on “Stock, generic recipe (with sous vide pictures)

    • I don’t drink all that often, when I do I discuss what to buy with the clerk at the local wine shop and they suggest. For cooking though I use either a very dry vermouth or a pinot noir, or for red dishes the driest burgundy I can find. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Am I ever going to make homemade stock? No, in all likelihood, I will not. Which is why I cannot completely account for the enjoyment I get from your recipe posts, Steven! As a writer, I admire the way you craft your descriptions and explanations. What you do in 500 words would take me 5000. Plus, at the end of the post, I actually understood what you made and how you made it. And your accompanying photographs are as beautiful as they are instructive. So you may never make a cook out of me, but keep trying! I’m hooked.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks.

      The Sous Vide was a time saver. Just put the bags in the water and go. My sous vide can only handle about five gallons of water, so it’s not ideal for making large batches. I also can’t replace the vegetables. I definitely prefer the day long method, hunched over my cauldron making magic. πŸ™‚


      • I yet have to try the sous vide technique! I’ve always been curious about that πŸ™‚ Okay, I know this will sound like a funny question. But does the heat of the boiling water cause a chemical reaction with the plastic? I make stock just from basic chicken back bones and veggies. It changes the landscape of my dishes!


      • It’s great question. I was worried about cooking my food in plastic.

        According to the tomb Molecular Gastronomy and the home version they later made, the scientists contacted the Ziplock company and asked the same question. They also did some tests on their own. They unanimous concluded that at the low temperatures in the sous vide plastic will not leach into the food.

        Also, the acidity and alkalinity in the foods we eat is not high enough to cause a reaction with the plastic.

        For me, that’s good enough. If you were still bothered by it, you could purchase the stainless steel warming dishes they use to keep sauces at temperature to make your stock. Just cover it as close to air tight as you can.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hmm, always willing to try something new in the kitchen. I’m pretty sure my friends use Ziplocks in their professional kitchens so I shall try as well. The only dish I’m familiar with that uses sous vide is a fall-off-the-bone tender duck confit. I have never prepared this myself but it’s one dish I really, really love πŸ™‚


      • Oh, you can do so much more with the sous vide. You can make perfect custards in ramekins, cook chicken or steak so that it’s the exact level of doneness you require, you can infuse herbs or spices into anything, you can candy fruits.

        If you get fancy and purchase enzymes you can zest citrus or peel it so all that white pith is dissolved, or create fruit sugar.

        Cheesecake was a revelation. More moist than anything you’ve eaten. πŸ™‚


      • Oh wow! I should try that on custard then. I do a water bath for a custard dish called “leche flan”, a Philippine version of a panna cotta. I really am very curious about trying this technique, esp with meat πŸ˜€ Will check out more of your recipes as well.


  2. Good post! When I can I use my pressure cooker to make stock and then as you mentioned, I take the fat off – it only has calories and leaves your mouth feeling greasy.


      • I like to use the pressure cooker for the time it saves and yes, there is gelatin depending on what I’m making.


      • I make it myself but from beef bones normally ! Yummy!


  3. Always informative. And appreciated.The accompanying photos add to the sensory-scented post. Will the author ever be extending dinner invitations? Because you know you’d have hordes clamoring…


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