+Anne Coleman

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Stocks and Brown Sauce 101

Yesterday I wrote about using a brown sauce made from vegetable stock for the Mushroom Stroganoff I made. There were a couple questions posted to the comments, and as promised, I'm going to explain it all right now.

Stock is the liquid made from simmering bones and vegetables to extract their flavor. It's used as a base for soups, stews and sauces. The type of stock made depends on the bones and method of cooking used.


Before we start, you'll need to know a few cooking terms that are common in the making of stocks.

Mise en place ~French for "everything in it's place". The best way to start any recipe is to have everything you need measured and ready to go before beginning.

Mirepoix ~A mixture of vegetables, 2 parts onions, 1 part celery, 1 part carrots and may also contain leeks and mushrooms in which case the amount of onions would be decreased. It's used as a seasoning and flavor enhancer for the sauce that is made from it and the pan drippings.

Sachet d'epices~ French for "bag of spices" - Aromatics tied in cheesecloth. Used to flavor stocks, sauces, soups etc. Most often contains parsley stems, cracked peppercorns, dried thyme, and a bay leaf.

Concassè ~Applying to raw or cooked tomatoes: Peeled, seeded and diced.

Pincé~ To caramelize by sautéing - most often refers to a tomato product.

Amounts are dependent on how much stock you are making. A gallon of stock used 5 - 8 pounds of bones, a pound of mirepoix 1/4 pound of tomatoes and a single sachet.

This is a classic brown stock preparation:


The proper mise en place for brown stock; bones, mirepoix, sachet and tomato product. I chose to use fresh plum tomatoes concassé for this stock. The bones are beef marrow bones, which are the best for stock since they have the most flavor and make a very gelatinous stock once cooled. The mirepoix is diced large since the cooking time for a brown stock is long.


The Sachet d'epices. This will be tied with kitchen twine and added to the stock a half hour before the end of cooking time.

The bones, mirepoix and tomatoes properly roasted. The bones are roasted first until browned, at 350 degrees F for about 1 hour. The mirepoix is then added and roasted for anouther 1/2 hour or until browned well. The tomatoes concassè are added last and roasted, or pincé, for another 20 minutes.

Just the bones go into the pot first.

The right amount of water to cover the bones by one inch. This is simmered for 5 hours before adding the mirepoix and sachet. Once the mirepoix and sachet are added, the stock is simmered for another hour. Strain well with cheesecloth.

The finished stock.


Once you have a rich brown stock, it's time to make brown sauce, or Sauce Espagnole, one of the 5 mother sauces which are:

1. Béchamel or basic white sauce
2. Velouté or stock based white sauces (chicken, fish, veal)
3. Espagnole or brown sauce
4. Tomato
5. Butter sauces (e.g. Hollandaise sauce)

Brown sauce is one of the most commonly used sauces in French cuisine. Here's the simplest way to make a good brown sauce:

Mise en place for brown stock:

The sachet.

The mirepoix and tomato product. This time it's 1/2 pound mirepoix and 1 tablespoon of tomato paste.

The brown stock, 8 cups, hot and ready.

The mirepoix is browned well. This is the onion at the right color.

Carrots and celery added and browned.

Tomato paste added and pincé.

Roux, flour and butter or oil 1/4 cup of each, is browned well before adding the stock.

The stock - which needs to be hotter than the roux before adding - and sachet added to the mirepoix and roux. Simmer for an hour before removing the sachet and straining well through cheesecloth.

The brown sauce and the right consistency. It should coat the back of a wooden spoon. If the consistency is not right, correct it with more roux before straining.

13 comments:

giz said...

Great job on stock 101. You made it so easy a 5 year old could follow it.

Ranae said...

Anne, where would one buy the beef marrow bones?

KFarmer said...

Let's say you didn't need that much sauce. Can you freeze it and if so, at which point in the preparation?

BTW, looks yummy and I bet it smells like heaven~ Thanks Anne for brown sauce 101 :)

Anne said...

giz- TY!

Ranae-I get them from the butcher at one store and from the freezer at two others. Usually butchers will have them or be able to set aside for you.

K-yep-I freeze mine all the time. You can halve the recipe (except for the sachet) to get less. As soon as it's done, pack it in smaller containers - cool a bit at room temp, but not too long, and freeze away!

Jill@SimpleDailyRecipes.com said...

(on my knees bowing) You're a rockin' food blogger!

I feel like I've step into an online culinary course.
You put a lot of time and work into this post,
THANK YOU for sharing your know how with us.

A.J. Cordi said...

What are you doing blogging? You should have your own show on Ch. 74!

Anne said...

Jill and A.J., you're both putting me in stitches here! It's not really all that hard--really. TY for the compliments, thought!

Merry K. said...

Anne, Your stuff always amazes me. I think it's the photos that do it all such justice. If I lived near you, I'd have to invite myself over for dinner!!

Neen said...

This is a slightly sacrilegious question, but is all the work worth it? Once you use the stock as a base in another dish, can you really tell the difference from store-bought stock? All my cookbooks are vehement on this point, but I don't know...

Anne said...

Hi Neen,

I think the question is valid, but the point of the post was more to answer questions for my readers about brown sauce.

Now that they know how to make their own, the choice is up to them! I do think there is a distinct difference in flavor, but remember, I have 7 kids and most often don't have time to make my own stock.

This post is just an FYI for anyone who wants to know.

Anonymous said...

You explained it very well. However I would suggest that you add the stock cold, not hot. You always add a cold liquid to a hot roux or a hot stock to a room temperature roux. Also to more completely answer Neen's question. If you are referring to commercial bases. The one where you just add water and they're ready to use. Even the best commercial bases are a poor substitute for a well made stock. But if you're referring to stock made by the supermarket. I would rather make my own. Stock's are really easy to make they just require some baby sitting. Plus you can control what goes into the stock.

Anne said...

Anon- Actually, that's a matter of preference. I was taught that it's the other way around. Cold liquid added to a hot pan containing grease (the fat in the roux) is a recipe for one thing; Disaster. The smoothness of the sauce also depends on things being as close in temperature as possible.

The only time I deviate is when making gumbo.

Thanks for your extra thoughts on the store-bought issue.

janelle said...

So fun to find you on the web; I was searching for images of 'brown stock' and saw yours for sachet.

Hello! Nice to meet you, fellow mom and cooker!