I had the absolute privilege of watching Chef Thomas Keller be interviewed live about a year ago (full notes and a few photos here). It was a memorable experience that I still reflect on – and it`s helped me become a better cook.
I remember Keller sharing his secret to becoming great – and the reason why people don`t. Paraphrased, it was `the problem with Chef`s today is that they want to learn the next thing. They get bored and jump from one thing to another. If you want to become a truly great chef, make 1 thing for a year or two and perfect it.`
I definitely fall into the problem category that Chef Keller mentioned – though his words have challenged that and I do find myself consciously repeating things and trying to improve them.
I`ve never been thrilled with my stock. It`s generally decent but not fantastic.
One of my significant issues was the color – I would generally end up with a greyish liquid. Roasting the bones (or veggies or both) helped but didn`t get me there.
I was flipping through Keller’s book, Ad Hoc at Home and he turned me on to this idea:
Charred onions. I burned the cut side in a cast iron skillet. They started off direct heat before moving them to the heat on medium-high and I watched them closely. You could do the same on a BBQ.
The resulting stock was much darker, the broth richer. I was thrilled with their impact on the end results.
I couldn`t help but think about a Greek Hot Dog vendor that I knew many years ago. He used to sing your order as he cooked hot dogs from his suburban cart. He would start his day by putting an onion under the grill and on the flame of his BBQ. He said that the smell would affect the flavor but would also make people salivate and buy more. In a way, I`ve had a similar tip from one of the best Chefs in the world – and the best Hot Dog Vendor I`ve ever known.
We`ll have more stock-making tips to share in time – what are your favorites tips for stock?