The importance of stocks and sauces

The great French chef Auguste Escoffier wrote:

“Indeed, broth is everything in cooking, at least in French cooking. Nothing can be done without it. If the broth is good, what remains of the work is easy; if, on the other hand, it is bad or simply mediocre, it is quite hopeless to wait something approaching a satisfactory result.’

Escoffier and other French chefs revolutionized early French cooking by inventing a lighter and reduced sauce, a variation on the traditional thick cream sauces known as bouillon.

Since the 16th century, blanks have been used to prepare soups and sauces. Stocks are the release of flavor from ingredients with a liquid base. Ingredients often include bones, vegetables, herbs and spices cooked in water.

There are several French broths and sauces that are used traditionally. “Glass” is stock that has been reduced, while “demiglas” is reduced further to create a thick brown sauce. They are used in the preparation of many dishes to enhance taste, texture and color. “Juice” is a natural liquid that comes from drippings from roasting meat. “Au Jus” is usually made from broth and meat trimmings. “Essence” is the vegetable equivalent of meat stock that is added for more flavor in the sauce.

Why are stocks so rich in flavor? Simmering ingredients allows for flavor in addition to a reduction in volume—it’s this reduction that further concentrates the broth’s flavor.

Stocks and sauces are therefore key to delicious cooking – and for reasons other than taste. As our economy is still recovering, we know that families everywhere are working long hours. Preparing nutritious and filling meals can take a backseat to the daily grind, but keeping a stocked pantry full of good broths and sauces will give you the ability to whip up quick dinners on the go.

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