23 August 2011

Day 7: Drop It Like It's Stock

I get a real kick out of lingo. Slang or double talk or euphemisms, all that. Sometimes I even assume a phrase is a euphemism just to entertain myself. The culinary world, of course, has its fair share of lingo, and it's been one of the bright spots of Food Safety and Sanitation, a class which is otherwise like a cross between high school biology and the film Outbreak. To wit:

"Sushi grade" or "sashimi grade." I used to think this was a quality rating akin to the USDA beef scale. Or maybe it signified a particularly desirable cut of meat. It isn't and it doesn't.

Some fish have parasites. A supplier must hold fish at or below a specific freezing temperature for a specific amount of time to kill the parasites and make the fish safe for raw consumption, otherwise it'd have to be cooked. Look up "anisakis simplex" on Wikipedia if you want to freak yourself out and never eat sushi again.

You know those menu warnings that say "eating raw or undercooked meat poses a health risk" or something similar? That means the restaurant you're in is legally protected if you ask for your burger medium-rare, then keel over and die from a pathogen that otherwise would've been killed had you asked for medium. There are worse ways to go, so I now take comfort in seeing that particular legal disclosure.

On the more fun side is "drop stock," which we learned today. The mirepoix (that's carrots, onions, and celery) we chopped yesterday was dumped into a stock pot with a bouquet garni (that's a bay leaf, thyme, parsley stems, and peppercorns), chicken bones, and water to simmer overnight. Today, we dropped the stock, which basically means to strain all that stuff out of the now-flavored liquid. I really, really like this phrase, if only because it could easily be used in another context.

In Vegas? "I'm gonna head over to the poker room and drop stock." Or, "Later tonight, we're hitting up Olympic Gardens and dropping stock."

Just demolished someone in fantasy football? "Dude, you dropped stock on him, for real."

Need some retail therapy? "Today was hell. I'm heading to the mall and dropping stock."

All-purpose visit to the bathroom? "Hand me the sports page, I need to go drop stock."

The possibilities are limitless.

We also learned that a stock is essentially a more refined and deeply flavored broth. The example the chef gave us was: if you drop a whole chicken into a pot of water and boil it, you'd get a broth. If you use bones to get a deeper flavor, you'd get stock. Reduce and reduce and reduce a stock until it's practically gelatin, then dehydrate it, and you'd have yourself bouillon powder.

I'm not sure at what point you'd drop bouillon, but that sounds pretty cool, too, doesn't it?

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