For years I cooked in high-end restaurants, and perhaps that gave me my particular affection for stocks and broths. I love the way they smell, the depth of flavor they impart on dishes, the act of producing them—everything. Stocks and broths are to a soup or sauce (or dumpling or ramen) what good compost is to a garden—they are the basis of success. They give food backbone and structure and vitality. So when I picked up Rachael S. Mamane’s new book, Mastering Stocks and Broths, I expected a book I would love. I got that, as well as a book that absolutely anyone with a mild interest in cooking will love, too. That applies especially, perhaps, to farmers.
Mamane is the owner of Brooklyn Bouillon, a popular New York-based company that produces a variety of stocks for restaurants and home cooks that “endeavors to minimize agricultural food waste while making staple products for home cooks.” It is out of this experience that she can adroitly pull a subject generally relegated to the back or glossary sections of cookbooks and not only put it front and center but also make it exciting.
To back up, stock is essentially flavored water—flavored by meat, bones, fish, veggies, herbs (it’s a big list). A broth, meanwhile, is a stock fortified with additional ingredients. So to begin with, “flavored water” itself is not an inherently exciting concept. But by using historical context, interesting recipes and some well-crafted science writing, Mamane breathes life into the topic of stocks and broths in a way that reveals the potential behind a good stock for health and flavor, and also potentially for business.
Indeed, where I find this book most relevant to small and hobby farmers is Mamane’s approach of using local ingredients as well as a lot of the less-marketable products farmers often leave behind at the butcher—bones in particular. She places a strong emphasis on the value of employing these ingredients and illuminates the potential for farmers to utilize their extras and turn them into a possible value-added product. This product could be bone char for gardens, your own “local gelatin,” farm-based bouillon cubes, or good old bone broth from your animal bones. It could be mushroom stock from the stems of your mushroom business, or veggie stock created from what you don’t sell at market. Either way, your customers might appreciate an alternative to the highly processed (and often high sodium) stocks and broths usually found in stores, especially if you follow Mamanes tips and tricks. It certainly got my wheels turning––for my kitchen, of course, but also for my business.
For me, I have drawn dozens of new tips and ideas from Mamane’s work for my own cooking. I expect more to come as I cook through some of the many great recipes she provides—or, perhaps more immediately, as I sip on one of the many interesting cocktails.
The Final Word
In the end, Mamane’s book offers the reader a great deal of well-packaged information on how to use all remaining parts of an animal (sometimes, as in the case of bones, even after you’ve already cooked them once) by turning them into stocks, broths, soups, sauces and so on. It’s an interesting, excellent read on an important subject that if nothing else will make your meals that much more delicious.
At a Glance
- Title: Mastering Stocks and Broths: A Comprehensive Culinary Approach Using Traditional Techniques and No Waste Methods
- Author: Rachael S. Mamane
- Publisher: Chelsea Green
- Release date: June 21, 2017
- Target Audience: Home and professional cooks as well as farmers searching for creative ways to add value to extra product.