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Old 02-24-2006, 11:42 PM   #1
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What went wrong with my roux?

I made another attempt at demiglaze last weekend. However, it failed again.

First things first: my brown stock did not gelatinize after spending a night in the fridge; it was still liquid. Since everyone told me that it was a good thing that my stock turned to gelatin in the fridge the first time I made it, can I assume that I did not properly reduce it this time, since it remained liquid? Last time I allowed the temperature to hover in the 95 degree plus range, at what was probably a fairly strong simmer, if not a weak boil. This time, I was more fastidious about following the instructions (which defined a simmer as technically being between 86 and 96 degree) and keept things around 90. At this level, for about 7 hours, it barely reduced at all. What do you think? Was this wrong? Was I better off the first time?

But that's not the main problem I had. That I can easily adjust once I know the correct answer. The more difficult problem was with the roux. To make the espagnol, the recipe has you put about 8 oz butter in a pot, and then saute the mire poixe with the butter until browned, and then mix in about 8 oz flour to create the roux, brown the roux, and then mix in the stock.

Trouble is, the stock is the bottle neck. It calls for 6 litres of stock, on top of 2 litres for the demiglaze. There is no way I can produce that much stock, even with my 16 quart stock pot. So I cut the recipe to 2/3. So that was a little over 5 oz of butter to a little over 5 oz flour, with the mire poix also reduced accordingly.

Trouble is, after adding the flour, my roux looked nothing like the picture in the book. In the book, they showed something that looked like a choux paste. What I got instead was just mire poix covered with batter. You can't make a paste out of chunks of vegetables mixed with a little butter and flour. Instead of smooth paste, you just get gunky vegetables.

I ended up throwing everything out, because the roux just seemed wrong. Is this because I reduced the roux recipe? What should I have done instead? Or was this supposed to happen? Should I have just browned the gunky vegetables and then incorporated the stock?

By the way, if anyone has a recipe for Brown stock / brown sauce / demiglaze for home use, I'd be very grateful. It would be nice to have a recipe poportioned more for the home cook, and less for a commercial kitchen!

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Old 02-25-2006, 01:15 AM   #2
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Just a home cook here, but I love to make stock, beef or otherwise.

Just a couple of ideas I hope will help. But am always looking for hints.

First, I never measure the temperature of my broth, I want a simmer. To me that means a couple of bubbles coming up at pretty regular intervals. I would increase the heat a tad.

If cooked that way, with the very slow simmer, in my opinion, seven hours is not even close to the stuff being done.

Love making stock,it makes the house smell great.

I usually leave it for at least 24 hours, and always get a lovely stock.

Going through the Espagnole sauce is something I gave up a while back.

And I think I am a dinosaur, for I did it too long.

As an aside, you seem to have a problem with making a roux. Try just making one, without spending your stock on the project. It only requires a bit of fat (including peanut oil), and flour. Once you get the knack you will never forget it.

Back to the stock.

What I do, and it is not in the recipe books, is to take a cheap piece of beef, cut it into pieces, and saute them. Actually I cook them in fairly high heat until they are browned.

Then I add the stock, and cook for about two or three hours.

Then strain, let sit overnight in the fridge, and take off the fat.

Then I reduce it, and have what I think is a demiglace.

Oh yeah, and the beef you added to the broth and filtered out, always make a sandwich with BBQ sauce, the cook's treat.
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Old 02-25-2006, 01:15 AM   #3
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First things first: my brown stock did not gelatinize after spending a night in the fridge; it was still liquid. Since everyone told me that it was a good thing that my stock turned to gelatin in the fridge the first time I made it, can I assume that I did not properly reduce it this time, since it remained liquid?
Mmm I would say that the lack of gelatinization (is that even a word?) would not be due to lack of simmering but the actual 'meat' (both trim and bones) you are using. Incorporating cuts such as knuckle, back and neck bones as well as meat trimmings with a high percentage of cartilage and connective tissues will help provide the stock with that gelatiny goodness. On that note I do not believe it is important if your stock does not 'gel' overnight, it is the finished brown sauce that generally 'gels' when refrigerated.

With the flour it sounds as if too little fat was used with the mirepoix, or perhaps what fat there was was soaked up by the mirepoix therefore leaving none to be utilised for the roux (potentially due to too low heat being used, allowing the mirepoix to soak it up, someone else jump in here!). Remember, no quantities listed in a recipe are perfect, you must adjust the quantity of fat/flour accordingly to achieve the desired effect (such as resembling choux pastry or otherwise described as 'like sand at low tide').

If you are having difficulty forming a roux in the pan with the mirepoix remember that you can prepare the roux seperately then add it too the brown sauce later. Just remember add cool roux to hot liquid, or add cool liquid to hot roux.

Hope that helps for I have fairly limited knowledge in this area, just going by what I have learnt from using mirepoix and roux's in other applications and extensive reading of my copy of the CIA's (the good one) 'The Professional Chef'.
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Old 02-25-2006, 04:27 AM   #4
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In order to cook correctly, a roux has to be fat and flour. No water. Mire poix contains water. The moment you add water to the equation, you've got a gloppy mess.

If you sweated the mire poix for a long enough time, you might be able to evaporate enough moisture to make a passable roux (that's probably how they did the photo). Still, though, I would take a different route and cook the mire poix in the stock and not in the pre-roux fat.

What part of the animal did you make your stock from? It's a lot easier to get poultry stock to gel due to it's abundance of collagen rich skin and cartilage. With beef, as mentioned, it helps to get your hands on some connective tissue rich meat. Shanks are good but expensive. Veal knuckles/shank is supposed to be extremely collagen rich. If you've used plenty of meat, brown everything carefully and end up with a very flavorful stock that doesn't gel, it's not the end of the world. You can always add a little gelatin to get the right texture. Body can always be added. Flavor, on the other hand, can not.

Escoffier says 12 hours for stock. McGee says that extraction times range from less than an hour for fish, to a few hours for chicken/veal, to a day for beef. 24 hours might be pushing it, regardless, I'd go longer than 7 hours.
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Old 02-25-2006, 08:33 AM   #5
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Here's my recipe for beef stock.

Basic Beef Stock
Yields: about 2 gallons concentrated stock

Some connective tissues, like cartilage and ligaments, consist of collagen, which breaks down under moist heat cooking into gelatin. Other connective tissues, like a backstrap tendon, are made of elastin, which does not break down when cooked. You’ll see that I indicate using as much connective tissues as possible, as they will dissolve out into the stock and provide superior body and texture. You want to look for “soup bones” that actually have a “knuckle” joint with lots of cartilage showing. You may have to special-order these from a butcher. In a pinch, oxtails will work, as they have lots of cartilage as well.
Also, if you roast a large piece of beef on a regular basis, you will find that some gelatin will render out from the connective membranes in the roast as it sits. If you let the roast sit, covered, on a platter in the refrigerator overnight, you should find a dark brown gel around and under the roast. This is the gelatin. When I find some, I try to freeze it until I make my next batch of beef stock, and throw it into the stockpot with all the other goodies.
Finally, you will note that I do not have you start with cold water when you begin to simmer the stock. Since I roast the bones, they are already cooked, and any serum present will have already coagulated.

Beef bones and scraps, approximately 4#, with as much cartilage as possible
1 - 2 large onions, quartered, with skin
6 stalks of celery, cut into 4” lengths
4 - 6 carrots, cut into 4” lengths
One 6 oz can tomato paste
Hot water
An 18 - 22 qt stockpot
A 16 qt stockpot, or other large containers to hold hot liquid in
One 2 liter soda bottle, label removed, and washed inside and out
One bag of ice
Ice cube trays

Fill the soda bottle with cold water and freeze it solid. I usually do this a day or so before I make the stock.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the bones, onions, celery, and carrots into a roasting pan or a large, preheated, cast iron skillet. Roast these in the oven for 30 - 45 minutes, or until they start to caramelize. Remove from the oven, and add the tomato paste. Stir until everything is lightly coated. Return this to the oven and roast another 30 minutes, or until the tomato paste has caramelized.
Once the bones and vegetables are caramelized, remove them from the oven and place them in the large stockpot. Cover with hot water, and bring to a boil. Once it starts to boil, reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook gently until all the cartilage has dissolved into the stock, 24 - 36 hours. You’ll know it’s done when the cartilage is gone, and the bone that forms the moving surface of the joint actually separates from the leg bone. I usually start mine in the morning, let it go all day, then all night, getting up once or twice to check it and make sure everything is going good.
When the stock is done, strain out as much of the solids as you can and dispose of them. Place a large strainer over or inside another large pot (the 16 qt, if you have one). If you don’t have a second large stockpot, use as many large containers as you have to hold the strained stock. Clean out the original pan you used, and pour all the stock back into it.
Place the now strained stock back over high heat and bring it to a boil. Continue boiling to reduce this stock by about half.
Now comes the fun part. To ensure the best possible shelf-life of your stock, you need to chill it as fast as possible. Here is the best way to do that.
Plug up your sink so that water will not drain out. Find some small pieces of flat wood to lay in the bottom of the sink (I usually use three 2” long pieces of 1x2), or a cake rack, and place it on the bottom. Carefully place the pot of stock onto the pieces of wood or the rack. Fill the sink with the ice, then carefully add enough cold water to come up the sides of the pot, without overflowing your sink, or causing the pot to float. Get the soda bottle out of the freezer and stick it straight into the stock. Stir this around, and let it chill. Stir it every 10 - 15 minutes. Check the temperature with an instant-read thermometer. When the temperature is down to about 40°F, you can either place the stock in the refrigerator for storage, or, using the ice cube trays, freeze it.
I like to store my stock frozen, in gallon zip bags. I’ve found that the best way to reconstitute my stock, is to place 2 cubes of frozen stock into a measuring cup, and add enough hot water to bring the level up to 1 cup. For more stock, just increase this ratio.

Several people have mentioned various cooking times for stock, including myself. I agree with fish/seafood stock being cooked for 45 minutes - 1 hour. I usually cook chicken stock for about 12 hours, then strain and reduce it. I mentioned in this recipe that cooking beef stock takes 24 - 36 hours. You'll know the stock is done when all the cartiliage has first turned to gel, then eventually dissolved away into the liquid. Pull out some of the "knuckle" joints as it cooks, and you'll see this happen.

I haven't tried to make Espagnol since my college days, when we used brown sauce all the time. Heck, we don't even used Espagnol where I work.

I will make demi-glace, but, it's not a true demi. I cheat. I just take some of my already-rich beef stock, and bring it to a boil, then reduce the heck out of it until it's really super thick. Then , while it's still hot, I pour it into ice cube trays, and freeze it. You don't want to chill this stuff, as it will set up almost like rubber when it cools.
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Old 02-25-2006, 08:49 AM   #6
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I can't help you with the broth but the roux, perhaps ... I make mine how you described - butter and olive oil, heated, then saute the mire poix for a few minutes, sprinkle flour over the whole lot and brown, add the stock and whisk till smooth and it comes to a soft boil.

I have also had the flour coat the mire poix a few times but when I add the stock and whisk, the lumps come out smoothly. I would suggest cutting down on the amout of flour a bit if you are concerned about it not looking like the picture. However, if you can get it to look like theirs - you can come over and teach me anytime!

I disagree with your statement regarding water, Scott123. I think my roux turns out better when I have sauted my mire poix and then added the flour. I think the flavor turns out much better and it seems I have more control over the flour when I sprinkle it over something other than just the fat. Also, I think the flavors of the onion and carrots get better / richer than if you just toss then in the stock to soften.

Good Luck!
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Old 02-28-2006, 10:51 PM   #7
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Your temperatures are fine, 86-96C/187-205F is a simmer and 90C/194F is sufficient to melt the collagen and connective tissues, which melt around 82C/180F.

Your quantities rang a bell so I, like Scott, broke out my copy of Escoffier - mainly because the mirepoix/roux technique sounded odd to me. Escoffier's method for Espagnole is to make the roux, add your stock, cook for a while, and then brown your mirepoix in butter separately and add it along with the tomatoes/tomato puree later in the cooking.

As for the difference in the stock - it sounds like you did something different more than just the temperature. Different bones and/or meat most likely. Shank bones and meat are the best. If you follow Escoffier's instructions to bone the meat and then "break the bones as finely as possible" (before browning) you'll increase the amount of collagen extracted.

My rouxs have never come out looking like "choux paste" when done. It can be clumpy when the flour is first added (especially when using butter - possibly (?) because it is 20% water) but it thins out to a consistency more like melted chocolate with 2-3 minutes of cooking and stirring. There is no magic formula - it's just equal parts fat and flour.

One thing I want to try, when I get one, is making stock in a pressure cooker.
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