SOUP MAKING’S CHEMISTRY AND ECONOMY

Knowing the most thorough and cost-effective way to extract the greatest stock or broth from a specific amount of meat is crucial to the success of these culinary operations because stock is the foundation of all meat soups and all major sauces. We will therefore describe the theory and philosophy behind this procedure before moving on to demonstrate the practical approach that should be used.

It is important to understand that the fibers are intertwined and make up practically all of the meat that is left after a lengthy boiling process since they are the main components of all meat, along with fat, gelatin, osmazome, and albumen. Boiling melts fat, but because it is kept in cells protected by a thin membrane that never dissolves, some of it is always attracted to the fibers. The other component of the stock rises to the surface and is made up of what has leaked out of incomplete or boiled-over cells. Gelatine is soluble, serving as the foundation and most nutrient-dense component of the stock. When there is an excess of it, the stock becomes a jelly when chilled. Osmazome, the meat component that gives the stock flavor and aroma, is soluble even when cold. Older animals have more osmazome in their meat than young ones do. White meats are lower in protein than brown meats, and the former adds more flavor to the stock. The osmazome appears to develop higher characteristics when meat is roasted, thus adding leftover roast meat to your stockpot will improve the flavor.

Albumen is similar to egg white in that it may be dissolved in either cold or warm water, but when placed in water that isn’t quite boiling, it coagulates. This feature of albumen makes it clear that the albumen will harden whether the meat is added to the stockpot before the water boils or after it has swiftly started to boil. In both cases, it stops the gelatin and osmazome from dissolving, resulting in a watery and flavorless stock. In the first case, it rises to the surface; in the second, it stays inside the meat. It should be noted that the albumen in meat coagulates more or less proportional to the size of the piece since the parts that are farthest from the surface always experience the level of heat that causes it to congeal before completely dissolving.

Always include bones as a component portion of the stockpot. They are made of gelatine, an earthy ingredient that gives them their rigidity, and a fatty fluid resembling marrow. They contain the same amount of gelatine as one pound of flesh in just two ounces, but the gelatine is so thoroughly encased in the earthy substance that boiling water can only dissolve the tops of complete bones. However, breaking them allows you to dissolve more since you increase their surface area. You can also completely dissolve them by making a paste or powder out of them, but you must never grind them dry. The base of stock is gelatine, however even though it is very healthy, it has no flavor at all. Osmazome is required to give the stock a savory flavor. Bones don’t contain any of these particles, which is why stock made entirely of them is disliked. However, when meat is added to broken or ground-up bones, the osmazome in the meat gives the stock enough flavor.

In order to make soup economically, it is important to pay attention to the following succinct tips and instructions.

The finest stock to use is beef. Veal stock is less colorful and flavorful, while mutton occasionally imparts an unpleasant tallowy smell, unless the meat has already been roasted or broiled. If the birds are not old and fat, they don’t significantly improve the flavor of the stock. The most flavorful additions are aged pigeons; a rabbit or partridge is also a significant improvement. The greatest stock is made from the freshest meat.

As a general rule, if the meat is to be boiled solely for the purpose of making stock, it must be cut up into the tiniest pieces possible. However, if good stock and a piece of savory meat are also desired, it is necessary to put a rather large piece into the stockpot, say enough for two or three days, during which time the stock will keep well in all weather conditions. Because a thin, flat piece of meat won’t look good and will quickly become spoilt by boiling, choose the freshest meat possible and have it chopped as thickly as possible.

Never wash meat because doing so strips it of all its juices. Instead, remove it from the bones, wrap it in tape to keep it in shape, and then place it in a stockpot with 1 pint of water for every pound of meat. Press the meat down with your hand to release the trapped air that causes it to frequently rise to the surface of the water.

Place the stockpot on a low heat so that it can warm up gradually. The albumen will initially dissolve and then coagulate. Because it is now lighter than the liquid, it will float to the surface and carry all of its contaminants with it. The slime is created by this. The solidified albumen rises, clearing the stock in a similar way to how egg whites do. In general, the more scum there is, the clearer the stock will be. Make sure the fire is always very consistent.

Remove the scum when it starts to rise thickly and avoid letting the stock boil because that will allow some of the scum to dissolve and some to settle at the bottom of the pot, making it exceedingly challenging to have a clear broth. If the fire is regular, it won’t be necessary to add cold water to cause the scum to rise; nevertheless, if the fire starts out too big, it will.

Put salt and vegetables—which could include two or three carrots, two turnips, one parsnip, and a bunch of leeks and celery knotted together—when the stock has been thoroughly skimmed and is just starting to boil. A tomato, two or three onion cloves, and a piece of cabbage can also be added to taste. The latter provides the stock a highly palatable flavor. According to a renowned French cook, if fried onion is added, it should be sealed in a small bag since, without it, the stock’s color may become muddy.

We’ll assume that by this time you’ve cut the bones that were removed from the meat and the bones from the roast from the day before. Keep in mind that the more these are broken, the more gelatine you will have, as was previously mentioned. The best way to break them up is to roughly pound them in an iron mortar while occasionally adding a little water to keep them from heating up. Tie them up in a sack in their damaged state and add them to the stockpot along with the grisly remnants of cold meat and trimmings that have no other use. If you have bought a piece of mutton or veal to make up the weight, broil it briefly over a clean fire before adding it to the stockpot, being extremely careful to ensure that it does not acquire even the slightest taste of having smoked or burned.

Now include the veggies, which will largely prevent the stock from boiling. Wait until it begins to simmer once again, then move it to one side of the fire and continue to gently simmer it until it is served, maintaining, as was previously stated, the same temperature of the fire. If the meat is exposed, add just enough boiling water to cover it. Otherwise, cover the stockpot carefully to prevent evaporation. Do not fill it all the way up, even if you remove some stock. The stock is finished after six hours of steady, gentle simmering; it shouldn’t be left on the fire for any longer than is necessary because it will eventually become bland.

Note: Excellence in cooking depends on a good stock, or first a good broth and sauce. If this foundational component of culinary art is prepared by careless or ignorant individuals, and the stock is not adequately skimmed, only mediocre results will be attained. The stock will never be clear, and whenever it must be cleared, its flavor and quality suffer. Insofar as one stock, at a modest supper, serves for all needs, effective stock-pot management saves a tremendous amount of hassle. Above all, the best economy that is consistent with excellence should be used, and the cost of everything that goes into the kitchen should be accurately determined. Although the theory behind this aspect of household management may seem trivial, its application is wide, thus it needs the finest care.

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