Mushroom Broth (Stock)

August 18, 2011

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and caldron bubble.

~William Shakespeare, Macbeth

The debate over broth vs. stock. Why has this always been so perplexing, even amusing?

Broth derives from the Old English noun broþ, having trickled down from an Indo-European verb root bhreu- or bhru- (“to heat, boil, bubble”), which also produced the word “brew.” So, etymylogically speaking, the noun broth means “liquid in which something has been boiled.”

The Germanic form brotham was borrowed into vulgar Latin as brodo, which by way of Old French broez came into 13th century English as broys or browes.

Stock presents a tad more complicated root scenario given its varied definitions and uses (inventory, corporate stock, summer stock, livestock, paper stock, stock remark, etc.). The word originally denoted a “tree trunk,” coming from the Germanic stukkaz. Stock, as used in the sense of broth, was so coined in the mid 18th century, because one keeps a “stock” of “broth” on hand in the stockpot.

Etymylogically, they seem nearly interchangeable. But, many chefs may dispute this, contending that stock is produced by slowly simmering relatively unseasoned bones and cartilage, some meat scraps, vegetables and aromatics in order to extract their essences. Often, the collagen rich bones are first oven roasted with the vegetables, and then added to the water to further enhance colors and flavors. This gelatinous, rich, and viscous stock is then strained and later used as a base to build sauces, gravies, soups or braises. Broth, on the other hand, they claim is crafted with whole meat morsels, is more delicate by nature and refers to an already finished and seasoned product. So, although not necessary broth can be made of stock.

Add to this semantic cauldron culinary terms like bouillon, court bouillon and consommé and mayhem ensues.

The distinction between vegetable stock and broth seems neglible. As for mushroom broth, made from those noble fungi taxonomically classified as a kingdom separate and apart from plants and animals and more genetically related to animals than plants…a vegan conundrum?

MUSHROOM BROTH

1/4 C extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 lbs crimini mushrooms, cleaned and chopped
1 1/2 C large mushroom stems (e.g., portabella), cleaned and sliced lengthwise
1/2 medium yellow onion, peeled and chopped
3 plump, fresh garlic cloves, peeled and chopped

1 C dry white wine
1 T shoyu
1 C dried mushrooms, such as porcini and/or shiitake
Pinch of sea salt
1/2 t dried herbes de Provence
3 sprigs fresh thyme
8 whole black peppercorns
3 C water
3 C vegetable stock

In a heavy pot or Dutch oven, heat the oil over moderately high heat. Add the mushrooms, stems, onion and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms release their liquid, about 5 minutes.

Add the wine, shoyu, dried mushrooms, salt, dried herbs, thyme, peppercorns, water and vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat to moderate and simmer until the liquid is reduced about one half, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Pour the hot broth through a fine strainer into a large bowl. Strain a second time for good measure.

Store broth in the fridge for up to four days, or in the freezer for up to 6 months.

Vegetable Stock

August 8, 2009

An onion can make people cry, but there has never been a vegetable invented to make them laugh.
~Will Rogers

Another of the savory basics which, by the way, slipped through the cracks. Roasting the vegetables first brings out the rich M. Maillard reactive depth of flavors in this broth which has endless uses.

ROASTED VEGETABLE STOCK

2 plump, fresh garlic heads, halved crosswise
2 C mushrooms, halved
4 carrots, sliced thick
4 stalks celery, leaves removed and sliced thick
2 medium yellow onions, peeled and sliced thick
2 leeks, rinsed well, greens removed and sliced thick
1 poblano chili pepper, quartered and seeded
1 medium tomato, quartered and seeded

1/3 C extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

8 C water
1″ ginger, peeled and sliced
2 t dried thyme
2-3 thyme sprigs
6 sprigs parsley
2 bay leaves

Preheat oven to 425

In a single layer, arrange the garlic heads, mushrooms, carrots, celery, onions, leeks, poblano, and tomato in a large baking dish or sheet lined with aluminum foil. Drizzle the olive oil over the vegetables, and then season with salt and pepper.

Roast the vegetables in the preheated oven, turning once or twice (with the exception of the garlic), until tender and slightly browned, about 30 to 40 minutes.

Combine the water, ginger, thymes, parsley, and bay leaves in a large, heavy stock pot over medium high heat. Squeeze the heads of garlic into the stock pot, and discard the outer husks. Then, place the mushrooms, carrots, celery, onion, leeks, poblano, and tomato in the stock pot. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and gently simmer for 1 1/2 hour. Taste and season while cooking. Strain into a bowl with a fine sieve or chinois, pressing to squeeze out all of the liquid.

Refrigerate up to 6 days or freeze up to 6 months.