On the importance of bone stocks

Previously, on tastingmenu.wordpress.com –

* https://tastingmenu.wordpress.com/2014/08/22/veal-stock/
* https://tastingmenu.wordpress.com/2012/08/20/recreating-a-matsuhisa-omakase-dish/

…You can’t have a good sauce if you start with a bad stock. Too many take stocks for granted…Every step of the way, you remove impurities. Everything follows from this.                                                                                                                                                                      -Thomas Keller, The French Laundry Cookbook (p. 220)

Recently, I was on business trip to San Francisco (corporate bootcamp) and stayed at the Intercontinental Mark Hopkins. In trying to meet some of my work schedules, I ended up having to order room service (to work through dinner) while I was there.  It just so happened on one of those nights that I ordered the rack of lamb/potato puree/vegetable medley and truffle demi (see  http://www.intercontinentalsanfrancisco.com.customers.tigertech.net/NobHillClub/Menus/Nob-Hill-Club-Dinner.pdf ).  A big thank you to Chef Michael Wong and his team – the truffle demi with the lamb rack was indeed a welcome meal after a long day.

But it started me thinking about demiglace.  After doing some reading it became clear that the modern treatment of demiglace was a pan sauce made simply with a seasoned heavily reduced veal stock – an elegant handling of that element to elevate the dish with the fresh ingredients.  So this past weekend, I decided to remake veal stock and did a 7:1 reduction of Chef Keller’s veal stock (reconstituting the original stock would be to use one part reduction with one part water).  And so one of the dishes I was going to make this week would be that room service dish I had from the Nob Hill Club.  To make that dish, I thought I would combine hasselback fingerling potato, blanched baby carrots, NZ lamb ribchops (cooked Nobu style) and the truffle demi.  I normally use about 4T sauce/serving in dinner dishes and so I thought I would combine:

4 T red wine (to deglaze the pan in which the lamb chops were seared, until almost dry)
8 T reduced veal stock
1 oz of finely chopped black truffle
1/8 t 4:1 salt/pepper mix
a few drops of truffle oil (added after the sauce is finished in the pan)

Thinking about this sauce made me remember the very first omakase meal I had at Morimoto, NYC.  The wagyu course in that omakase meal had a soy demiglace.  Remembering Iron Chef Morimoto’s comment about “…showing restraint in applying twists, otherwise confusion results” made me realize that the sauce was likely  his veal stock reduction with a simple seasoning with soy sauce.  Iron Chef Morimoto’s recipe for his veal stock from  Morimoto: The New Art Of Japanese Cooking (p. 257) was based on:

1 kg (2.2lbs)veal bones
1 medium onion chopped
1 medium carrot chopped
1 medium celery rib chopped
1 c hearty red wine
1 T tomato paste
6 sprigs fresh parsley
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf

The recipe ingredients looked really close to the one I was using from the French Laundry.  That that omakase offering left quite an impression by its elegance in components and in flavor  emphasized to me the importance of using a good veal (bone) stock. (It might very well be that the soy demiglace was a basically a combination of 8 tablespoons of the demiglace and 3/4 teaspoons of soy sauce.)  Indeed, even in Chef Ming Tsai’s Simply Ming (p. 184), his master meat broth is best viewed as a veal stock fortified with oxtail, pork bones and red wine (with 1/4 c of soy for final total volume of 5 quarts).

Returning to my business trip to San Francisco, I also recalled the Nob Hill Club’s Chicken/Mushroom Ragout/Baby Kale/Chicken Jus.  What if a chicken demiglace was used in place of the jus for a meal on a cold winter’s day?

Iron Chef Morimoto has been proposing global cooking for the 21st century as evidenced with things like his soy demiglace. Clearly, Chef Tsai may also be thinking of the same thing in looking at his master meat stock. Classic chinese superior broth uses meats of chicken, pork and ham; what if it were to evolve with chicken bones, pork bones/knuckles and ham with the application of reduction? Would we then see the emergence of something akin to shanton demiglace?

Food for thought.

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