A stock may be defined as the liquid formed by the extraction during cooking of flavor, nutrients and salts from bones, vegetables and aromatic herbs. Indeed, since stocks form the foundation for many kitchen preparations – soups, sauces, stews, fish dishes and rice dishes – their importance cannot be underestimated, particularly in traditional cookery.
The two main types of stock are white and brown stocks. The name of the stock is determined by the type of bone used in its making, e.g. brown beef stock is made from beef bones that have been colored in the oven.
The following list indicates the different types of stock and the appropriate cooking time for each one according to the type of bone used. All the stocks listed with the exception of fish stock may be made either white or brown, the main difference lying in the preparation in the early stages of production.
White or brown stocks:
Chicken and game stock; 2 hours
Veal stock; 2-3 hours
Beef stock; 3-4 hours
Mutton and lamb stock; 1 hour
Fish stock: 20 minutes
There is little point in cooking stock for longer period than that prescribed with the intention of extracting extra flavor. In fact cooking a stock beyond the time recommended may be detrimental to the finished result – and indeed to the dish for which it forms the basis, especially in the case of fish stock which becomes bitter and dark in color.