Why should I never boil my stock?
October 14, 2008 6:38 AM   Subscribe

Why should I never boil my stock?

Reading Anthony Bourdain's "Les Halles Cookbook", there's a couple page at the beginning about making stocks. One of the key points - as it's repeated twice - is to never bring my stock to a boil. Why is that? Does it affect the taste? The clarity?

Any other stock-related hints would be great as well, thanks!
posted by jedrek to Food & Drink (7 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: My understanding is that the bubbling action of stock at a rolling boil churns up all the fat and particulate matter in the liquid and gives you a cloudy stock. I don't think the taste is affected, other than in the sense that suspended fat in the stock may give the stock a somewhat greasy mouthfeel.
posted by letourneau at 6:44 AM on October 14, 2008

Best answer: From Cooking For Engineers on stock: "bringing the stock to a full boil will break up the solids into particulate matter that clouds the liquid". You might enjoy the whole article.
posted by Perplexity at 6:47 AM on October 14, 2008

I believe that it also has a more chemical effect as well- it does something to the proteins.
posted by gjc at 6:50 AM on October 14, 2008

Page 600 of Harold McGee's On Food and Cooking:
A hot start produces many separate and tiny protein particles that remain suspended and cloud the stock; and a boil churns particles and fat droplets into a cloudy suspension and emulsion.
posted by smackfu at 6:52 AM on October 14, 2008

Other posters have given the correct answer(s); but do make sure your stock is simmering gently (i.e producing a few bubbles) - too little heat and you won't extract the flavours properly.

Having your ingredients cut small will speed up the stock-making process, because the solids have a larger surface area in contact with the liquid.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 7:42 AM on October 14, 2008

I'm pretty haphazard when I make stock. I hate to waste a perfectly good chicken carcass, so I always cook up some stock, and sometimes it just gets used to cook rice. Really great rice, mind you. Anyway, it often boils, and it's still perfectly serviceable, if not clear.
posted by theora55 at 9:06 AM on October 14, 2008

I could never make good, clear stock until I started using a pressure cooker. The pressure cooker lets you achieve excellent heat for flavor extraction while still keeping the stock from boiling and churning. Plus it's massively faster.

Also, I get much better flavor by browning my stock ingredients first (cut small and browned in reasonably smallish batches) before adding liquid.
posted by sculpin at 10:44 AM on October 14, 2008

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