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The purpose of Stock

Hello everyone,

Welcome to my online cooking class *(slash)* masterclass.

It is only fair that I begin this session by showing you how to make the holy trinity of stocks; brown stock, white stock and the west african stock.

But first of all, what really is stock?

Some of my Nigerian students from the Igbo tribe would say stock are "the goods or merchandise kept on the premises of a shop or warehouse and available for sale or distribution", but not today my kin, not today.

Stock is a flavoured liquid preparation. It forms the basis of many dishes, particularly soups, stews and sauces (wikipedia definition). Stocks involves simmering animal bones or meat, seafood, or vegetables in water or wine, adding mirepoix (a mixture of sautéed vegetables) or other aromatics for more flavour.

To begin your first lesson in essential west African cooking, we would be learning how to make varieties of stock, the first of many; Lamb and Beef stock (which here, I call brown stock), if you have not watched the video, go give it a watch.

Brown stock: which is a basic western stock (most of my students are Nigerians, hence why I refer to it as a 'western' stock, for you non-Nigerians, it might just be stock, so bear with me), it is called brown because the vegetables and bones are browned in the oven before we simmer the stock. This helps add a rich flavour to the stock.

Almost every dish in the West African culture either has stock included in the recipe, or has stock included in a variety of said dish. This stock is very useful in many dishes, as it forms the basis of many dishes, particularly soups and sauces. A well made stock will be the difference between a flat soup/sauce and one packed with layers of flavour.

I learnt how to make a brown stock in culinary school, and I never thought the western way of making stock would be of any of use to me as a Nigerian, but once I made it, I USED IT EVERYDAY! I found it very useful in a lot of dishes I made, even Nigerian dishes, and once I fully understood how to perfect the flavours, I used it as a base to create a rich Nigerian Umami stock and Demi Glace (reduced stock) I used to make Nigerian soups and other dishes. This I demonstrate next week, so stay tuned.

So! Enough Talk, let's break down what you saw in the video:

Vegetables and spices:

A stock is as flavoursome as you want it. I used the basic mirepoix ingredients; carrot, onions, and celery, and paired it with some herbs, mushrooms and spices, but you can have fun with this. The Japanese have a stock called 'Dashi' where they use kelp, dried bonito flakes, anchovies and mushrooms.

my recommended stock ingredients:

  • mushrooms (shiitake if you can get some)

  • fresh herbs (thyme, bay leaves and parsley)

  • cloves (cloves are very aromatics and sweet, but have a bitter undertone to them, which is why you only need a few, don't be tempted to throw in a lot, maybe 5 for a medium sized pot, double if you use a LARGE pot)

  • tomato puree - when making a brown stock, tomato puree is a really nice dose of umami to add. for best result, rub vegetables and bones in tomato puree before browning them in the oven,

  • Vinegar - this helps to draw out nutrients from the bones

Now, just in case there are still a few Africans amongst us wandering "why would I ever need this?"

These are the benefits to making your own brown stock at home:

- If you have recipes where you use water, substitute a cup of that water for stock, and the difference will be come clear. if you have recipes where you do not use water, still throw some stock in for that extra kick.

- Stocks are really great ways to introduce certain flavours into your dish, most restaurants make a massive amount of stock at the beginning of the week and some make enough to last them a couple weeks.

- It is far less expensive to make a full pot of stock like my 32cm pot , with bones, that it is to make one with meat, or meat-on-the-bone. At home, I make enough stock to last me 2 weeks and when I want to cook anything with meat, I just grill the meat and add it to my dish, and this works out because meat grilled, or fried is more flavoursome than that boiled in stock (this I will elaborate on in another session where we cover meats and fats)



here are some answers to questions I imagine some of you will come up with, and if all your questions are not addressed, drop a comment below, or use the comment icon on the top right corner of the video to comment on the video.

Why do we boil the stock for sooo long?

- Gelatine. The bones contain gelatine, and tough bones like that of beef, lamb, veal and so on, require a long time of cooking to extract that gelatine. What good is gelatine? well, it is what makes your stock gel when you store it in the fridge, and gelatine also has medicinal benefits due to its hydrophilic nature; it aids digestion by rendering digestive juices more effective by attracting them to itself.

- Another reason we boil it for so long is to concentrate the flavour. that is why we only add a little amount of salt, because as the stock reduces, the flavour gets more intense. want to try this out for yourself. cook a full pot of stock, and reduce it all the way to 1/4 of the original quantity. save some of the original quantity, taste it, and then taste the reduced quantity, the difference will be clear.

Why only such a small amount of salt?

- Like I said earlier, we reduced the stock by half, or even more, and then the flavour gets concentrated, we only need a tiny amount of salt in comparison to the liquid, to flavour it slightly, remember this is not the usually stock West Africans make, this stock is to add that extra little bit of flavour. Also, you can always add as much salt as your heart pleases when you add the stock to whatever dish you are making. (just don't overdo it)

As nice as I am, HERE is a recipe you can try your brown stock on:

Try this chicken recipe:

  • 6 chicken thighs

  • 1 large carrot (diced)

  • 1 cup of green peas

  • 1 large onion diced

  • 4 garlic cloves (minced)

  • 14g minced ginger (or 3/4 tbsp minced ginger)

  • 120ml vegetable oil

  • 300ml brown stock

  • 1 potato (peeled and diced)

  • salt to taste

  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

  • 1 tsp dried thyme

  • 1 tsp curry

  • 1 tbsp butter

  • 1 tbsp plain flour


- add butter to pan, fry onions until soft, and then add carrots and green peas. Fry for 2 minutes, then set aside.

- Add vegetable oil to pan. Salt Chicken and fry skin side down until fat on skin is rendered. Then flip and fry on other side for 2 minutes. The aim is not to fully cook the chicken as it will still boil in the sauce, and overcooking chicken will make it dry

- Now add the onions, carrots and peas to the chicken, add your brown stock, garlic, ginger and all other seasonings. once it comes to a boil. add your diced potatoes and let cook until done.

- The starch in the potato should thicken up the sauce, in which case, you should not need the flour, if the sauce is not as thick as you would like, then mix the flour with3 tbsp water and add it bit by bit until sauce is thickened up to desired consistency.

- Finish with fresh parsley.


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