Anthony Bourdain Believed Stock Is The 'Backbone Of Good Cooking'

Anthony Bourdain
Anthony Bourdain - Santiago Felipe/Getty Images

Anthony Bourdain's celebrated career was an explosively impassioned ode to food. Among the chef-slash-writer's favorites were a juicy bar burger, the NYC dirty water hot dog, Popeye's mac and cheese, foie gras, Indian food, and more. But, for all the dishes in his personal hall of fame, one of his most loved ingredients is about as simple as it gets: stock. As he wrote in "Kitchen Confidential," "Stock is the backbone of good cooking."

Not to be confused with broth, stock is made by slow-simmering bones, mirepoix, and/or herbs in plain water. The slow-simmering releases the gelatin from the bone marrow for a creamy mouthfeel and rich flavor. Broth, by contrast, is flavored by chunks of meat and simmers for less time. As such, when vegetables are slow-simmered, the resulting liquid is always a broth, even though stock and broth are often used interchangeably.

Stock might not be as flavorful as broth, but by Bourdain's estimation, it's a crucial ingredient — all that stands between home cooks and knockout risotto, pasta, soups, stews, sauces, gravies, and beans. Take a cue from the chef and try your hand at homemade beef stock, chicken stock, or even veal stock. (Bourdain has a recipe for it in his "Les Halles" cookbook.) As he famously proclaimed, "To me, life without veal stock ... is a life not worth living."

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Stock Up On Stock

Homemade stock
Homemade stock - Mironov Vladimir/Shutterstock

Store-bought stock is fine in a pinch. But, if you asked Bourdain, homemade is the way to go. "Just roast some bones, roast some vegetables, put them in a big pot with water, and reduce and reduce and reduce," instructed the chef in "Kitchen Confidential." You can even whip up a flavorful stock in an Instant Pot. If you make a big batch, pop whatever you don't use immediately into the freezer to store it for future recipes. To freeze, you can use a wide-mouth Mason jar (leaving a good inch or two for expansion), resealable plastic freezer bags, or muffin tins or ice cube trays for portioned servings. Stock isn't just for cooking with, either. It can also save your leftovers by rehydrating stir-fries and moistening leftover casseroles.

In retrospect, Bourdain's homemade stock instructions might seem a little humorous considering in an episode of his first series, "A Cook's Tour," he visited students at the Culinary Institute of America (his alma mater) and revealed that he used to cut corners during his own tenure as a student. "I'll confess something," he shared. "I used to cheat in this class ... I was smuggling in little packets of Minor's chicken base." At the end of the day, however you make it, a flavorful stock will improve any dish.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.