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To the Stocks With Ye!

This Monday I attended a cooking demonstration/interactive chicken processing class, delightfully referred to as Chicken 101. It was put on by my CSA (yup, I’ll pretty much pimp these guys anytime) and Cleveland farm-to-table legend, Parker Bosley. He’s an absolute delight and knows way, way more about food and farm-to-table than I ever hope to. Ever.

The class itself was excellent; we all could use refresher on how to bone from time to time.

Sadly, I continue to butcher this process.

I’m also not sure we’re still talking about food.

…Moving on.

There was one question raised during the event to which I found the answer unsatisfying. Being a polite and courteous guest at functions such as this wherein I actually don’t know more about the subject than the presenter, I don’t go about correcting them unless their facts are egregiously wrong. In fact, even then I generally wait till the end unless they’re irreparably destroying the audience’s grasp of the underlying subject matter.

On the internet, however, this will not stand. Why yes. That comic IS compulsory, thank you for pointing out the entire internet has used it.

The question was that old chestnut of, “what is the difference between stock and broth?” And while this has probably been answered a thousand times. I personally prefer the axiom put forth by Alton Brown in [citation needed]: “Broth is made with meat, stock is made with bones.” Which, quite unfortunately, doesn’t alliterate the way one would hope.

I guess one could say that stock sounds like stalk, and bones are like stalks for animals. Sorta. What? If you don’t like it, make up your own and put it in the comments, damnit.

The point of stock is to dissolve out the collagen, gelatin (yes, it WAS made from animals, get over it already) and connective tissues of the critter into the cooking liquid. This creates that luxurious, full mouth-feel that makes stocks such great sauce fodder.

This implies stock, in and of itself, isn’t meant to derive flavors, but rather create that unctuous texture.

The point of broth, on the other hand, is solely to impart flavor into a liquid. Generally you think of broths from a meat source, but this could be from anything: ginger scallion broth, lamb broth, Porsche 911 broth. Water, boiled with tasty things to dissolve into the cooking liquid.

But if you have an Porsche 911 around and are thinking of making broth with it, I humbly beg you to reconsider and just send it to me.

So in the REAL world, “stock” is a combination of brothery and stockery. There’s always some leftover tasty bits clinging to the bones, and those makes everything taste better.

Yes, you, there, in the back? Why yes, there is such a thing “labeled” as vegetable stock. But in my opinion, it’s not stock. It’s broth. Proper vegetable stock (again, my opinion) would be cooked with completely stripped bones and connective bits to impart the texture, and vegetables only for flavor. Definitely not vegetarian.

At the end of the day, what’s really important is to understand the process. Knowing how the dissolving bits work is imperative to understanding how flavors exchange in, well, pretty much every other dish in the world. It’s not complex, it’s not magic. It’s just…

[Insert your own copyrighted food show theme with 10 notes here]


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