We have strayed, no rather veered away from the making of traditional stocks. I appreciate the time and patience it takes to make good stock. I understand that when made correctly stock becomes an integral addition to any kitchen pantry. I also know that veal stock tastes like veal, even when infused with other flavors. Chicken stock tastes like chicken, even when used to make soups. The under lying backbone of the stock, is that it is robust, full bodied and has a presence.
I have become infatuated with the essences of food. Particularly those of a roast chicken or a slow roasted veal shank. The fond left in the pan from these roasts resonates within me. The pan drippings are what excite me. The amount of flavor and intense character generated in one teaspoon of pan drippings blows the doors off the refined, polished and reduced staple we call stock. I have become driven to capture the fond. A number of years ago we roasted chicken legs for stock. It turned out that where we were chicken legs were cheaper than necks and backs for making stock. When the chicken legs came out of the oven (we were making a roast chicken stock) we would eat a leg or two with some salt, (I usually just took the roasted crispy chicken skin) and then the rest become the base for the stock. I noticed the roasted chicken residue on the sheet pans and released some of it with water. The taste was exactly what I was searching for. Roast chicken in a bottle.
At this point we began making chicken fond jus. The legs still went to the stock and the fond was carefully deglazed from the pans, simmered briefly in a pot and then strained and reserved. We used the fond jus for special dishes. The dishes we needed to really make pop. We made a beurre monte with the chicken fond and used it to dress zucchini-Parmesan agnolotti that we served with lobster and zucchini relish. The agnolotti took on a different dimension of flavor after a quick bath in the fond butter. Since those early days of coveting fond, we looked away from stock and right at the essence. Now when we roast chickens for dinners, the residue created is the sauce. Or if we have other plans in mind, then we save the fond for a dish to come.
Over the past few weeks we have had discussions over the benefits of stock in cuisine. It becomes even more exciting when the back and forth discussion is with Ed Janos, a CMC. In many ways our opposing views on this subject sparked my recent thought process. What if stock was not just stock? Why does it have to be done the same way? What if we wanted a different end result? Many of these thoughts have been worked through in our exploration of what can be a broth or a consomme. Recently, we put the finishing touches on butter pecan consomme. And then I began to think of the essence of such a consomme, which, in the words and world of Ed, would be a version of a glace, in this case a glace de noix. Now that progression is interesting. How can we make a nut demi glace? What else could be a demi glace? What do we have to do to create these essences, these elements of cuisine sparked by the traditional?
Now the work begins.