Author Topic: Ask a Chef #64  (Read 27554 times)


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Ask a Chef #64
« on: February 17, 2015, 03:36:44 PM »
Question From: Indence

Dear Chef, I am confused on the definition of Broth vs Stock.
Depending on what you read a lot of people say Broth has no bones but
adds spices, where stock is used with bones and little to none
seasoning. However, the definitions on the site, is that a stock is
just a strained broth. So I am really confused.



Hi Indence,

Thanks for writing us at Smart Kitchen. We are very excited about your question about the definition of a Stock and a Broth and the differences between the two. We know that there is a lot of partial information and mis-information out there on the net. It is hard to get straight answers sometimes.

Our short practical version is that stocks are supposed to be refined, in both the classy and "pure" sense, and broths are not. Said another way, broths have stuff in them (seasonings, fat, gelatin, meat, gluten, etc) and stocks are refined (processed) to remove as much of the secondary stuff as possible so that the stock is a good ingredient for future use.

Smart Kitchen uses the definition with straining, because the act of running the Broth through a sieve or strainer takes the impurities (the stuff) out. Of course, degreasing and skimming are good practices too.

The background reason is that purity is an important concept. It can help you make practical decisions in the kitchen as you proceed into Sauce Making, Soups, etc. For example, if you are making a Demi-Glace you want it to be as pure as possible for good, unadulterated flavor and a shiny uniform presentation. If you are just making a rough beef barley soup, it can be a little more "rustic" and "cloudy" with impurities.

You mentioned the definition that uses the presence or absence of seasonings to make a distinction between a Stock and a Broth. We have heard of that one, and we don't really agree with it. Seasoning is flavorful and something helpful to consider, but seasoning alone is not the whole difference. You can throw bones and meat and vegetables and water in a pot and simmer them and then take the bones and meat and veggies out with a ladle and have a bland broth. It would be boring and unseasoned but still a broth.  : )  You can also add ingredients to a stock and turn it into a broth.

We hope that helps explain "What's the difference between a stock and a broth" and we also want to repeat that we don't like to argue and are not going to split hairs with other chefs about how many sauciers can dance on the head of a spatula." If you want seconds of whatever they are doing; we think they did a good job. We just want to give a functional, actionable definition, that fitsin with the actual practice of Stock Making.

By the way, there is no definition for Broth in Larousse Gastronomique the last time we checked and if you read the definition for "Stock" in Larousse it does not mention "straining" in the definition. But every one of the recipes they give for making a Stock has straining as a step.

Fish or Stock Concentrate - "Strain through a muslin bag or fine sieve."

Fish Stock with Red Wine, or Fish Fumet with Red Wine - "strain through a muslin bag or fine sieve."

Game Stock - "Strain through a muslin bag or fine sieve."

Light Brown Stock or Estouffade - "Strain the whole through a muslin bag or fine sieve.

Brown Veal Stock - "Strain through a muslin bag or fine sieve."

Thick Veal Stock (aka thickened veal gravy) - "Strain through a muslin bag or fine sieve.

Tomato Veal Stock - "Strain through a muslin bag or fine sieve.

White Stock - "strain through a muslin bag or fine sieve."

We love your question because it is the sort of thing that Smart Kitchen is geared to help with. In general, chefs are artists and not educators which is why, in our opinion, the folks at Larousse Gastronomique missed the commonality of the straining step in their definition.

We like to take these complex subjects, which often have all sorts of folklore and internet posts around them, and boil them down (pun intended) so that you know what to do at home. That is part of the reason that Smart Kitchen claims to be The Smartest Way to Learn to Cook™.

We hope we have given you a practical path to follow in your cooking. If you were writing to win a bar room bet let us know and we can "restate" more favorably : )

P Chef

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