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The Stock Market, and the make or buy question?

It's a fairly well known fact that stocks are the foundation of cooking. Like anything, if you start with quality, your final result will be quality. Add to this of course, a sound knowledge of the preparation of stocks ans sauces. I'll provide a couple of basic stocks that every kitchen should be using at the end. Let's begin with a look at the process of making your own, and then investigate some of the options for premade products. We will use the make or buy analysis to assist in our final decision. To be clear on my position, I rarely use bases or premade sauces...only in a pinch. My clients have an expectation, and I have high standards about my own food.


Stock Recipes

Stocks are flavorful liquids used in the preparation of soups, sauces, and stews, derived by gently simmering various ingredients in water. They are based on meat, poultry, fish, game, or seafood, and flavored with mirepoix, herbs, and spices. Vegetable stocks are prepared with an assortment of produce, or intensely flavored with a single ingredient, such as mushrooms, tomatoes, or leeks.

Stocks are divided into white and brown categories. White stock is uncolored and subtle flavored, while a brown stock uses roasted components to create a rich color and robust flavor. Depending on the desired outcome, any stock can be white or brown. A stock can also be as simple as the Japanese preparation of Dashi, a light stock made with dried seaweed (Kombu), dried bonito fish flakes (Katsuobushi), and mushrooms (shiitakes).

Basically stocks are composed of a few simple ingredients; bones, mirepoix(carrots, onions, leeks, *tomato, celery & onions), herbs and spices and liquids(water, wine, citrus).

Cooking times and ingredients used vary somewhat depending on the type of stock you are making. You can find a lot more information on the preparation methods on my prochef site here. I also manage an online culinary school, feel free to email if you would like to participate,


Sauces are the pinnacle of a chef’s achievement requiring study and practice to master. A great saucier must have a discriminating palate and the ability to understand how to build depth and harmony into a sauce.

Sauce preparation used to involve a laborious and time consuming commitment, and while this is still the case for preparation of classic French sauces, the reality is that in today’s kitchen very few operations prepare and use them as originally intended. The reasons these sauces have grown out of favor include the changing preferences of chefs and the clientele they serve, the time factor involved in their preparation, and the cost of producing the sauces. In today’s world, food cost economics, the desire for workplace efficiency, and lack of skill have created convenience sauces, and shortcuts that produce adequate results to time-tested methods that have evolved over centuries of practice.

While most of the sauces listed to the left are French Classical preparations, we have to keep in mind that we live in a global culture that includes many sauces not included in this list. Examples are Latin American salsas, Italian pasta sauces, East indian curries and so on...

As I mentioned earlier many of these also can be purchased as convenience products, again raising the question of "Make or Buy".

You can find a good, detailed explanation below this paragraph. Basically the analysis goes as such. Cost of ingredients plus labour vs cost of buying the finished product. Of course there are many variables such as quality, labour cost and consistancy.

Download PDF • 57KB

As for my recommendations for commercially available stocks and sauces, here are a few suggestions.

  • Better than bouillon

  • My butcher broths

  • Knorr Swiss

Finally as my parting gesture, a recipe for a classic Espagnole. I included this one as it is one of the most prized base sauces in the professional kitchen, add an equavalent amount of beef stock to the finished Espagnole and reduce to the King of sauces; Demi Glace.

Download PDF • 109KB

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