Thursday, August 16, 2012

Stocks and Broths

     Stock, meat broth, bone broth, meat stock, broth: the terminology varies, but what, exactly, is stock? What is broth? How are they made? What’s the difference? The answer is: it depends who you ask, and from which historical period. The basic answer is that stocks and broths are the basis of many soups, stews, sauces and gravies. The ingredients and methodology differ somewhat. In their most basic form, stocks and broths are created from bones, meat, vegetables, or a combination of these, and water. The ingredients are simmered until the flavor has been extracted into the water.

     Unlike today’s supermarket cuts of boneless beef, through the end of WW2 and beyond, most cuts of meat were delivered to military cooks “bone in”. After trimming the meat, the bones and any remaining meat scraps would be thrown into the stock pot with cold water.* The temperature would be brought to a simmer and maintained for the required time. Scum and fat would be skimmed. The meat and bones would be removed and the stock utilized for soups, stews, sauces and gravies, or cooled for later use. In most military cuisine up to the end of World War 2, the skimmed fat would be saved for other culinary uses.
The chart below lists the ingredients for basic stocks or broths in several armies. It is by no means all-inclusive, and is meant only to give a few examples of the variances. I will post some stock and broth recipes in the near future.

Country          Year                Type               Cook                  Ingredients
France             1906                Bone                As needed       bones, thyme, laurel, parsley, celery, onion                          
                                                                                                     studded with 5-6 cloves 
Germany         1940-1945       Bone                As needed       Bones, vegetables or edible vegetable waste:
                                                                                                     cabbage stalks and leaves, celery or 
                                                                                                     onion trimmings, etc.                                         
Great Britain   1914                Meat                4-5 hours         beef or mutton bones, trimmed**

Italy                 1930-1945       Meat                110-130 min.   cut meat into 1-1.5 kg pieces; split the 
                                                                        (frozen meat;    bones. 9-10 g salt per liter of water, add 
                                                                        less for fresh)  meat after water is boiling, cook until al dente,  
                                                                                                   remove meat; add onions, carrots, parsley,
                                                                                                   and tomato.                                                          

 United States  1896-1927       Beef                6 hours             beef or mutton bones, water*
                        1928-1942       Beef                4-5 hours           1 qt water per 1 lb beef bones & meat, 
                                                                                                    water; crack the bones and cut the meat into 
                                                                                                     small pieces.
                        1946                Meat                6 hours              1 qt water per 1 lb bones, sawn to 6” length 
                                                                                                     or less meat cut into 1” pieces, vegetables
                        1946                Chicken           2 hours              chicken, "a few vegetables", seasoning
The US Army recipe for stock in 1942 stipulated beef bones and water to cover. That’s it.

* A notable exception to this is the Italian recipe for broth (brodo).
**no amount specified

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