REVIEW: Stocks, sauces with substance

Innovation+Kitchen+hosted+a+Learning+Series+April+7.

Photo by Collin Nawrocki

Innovation Kitchen hosted a “Learning Series” April 7.

Chef Gary Schrubbe, culinary director of Marquette University, situates himself behind the metallic countertop of his work station at the Innovation Kitchen. His goal? To help students feel confident in the kitchen and explore the world of food.

In a recent class, he taught students the secret to the perfect stock or sauce.

Before a chicken and dumpling soup was served, Chief Schrubbe demonstrated how to make a clear stock, noting that it can really be made from anything, but that celery, carrot and onion are the essences of any good stock. Students watched as he chopped the vegetables and added them into the pot of cold water along with the chicken bones, letting it boil. The key to clear stock is to boil the water and skim off the fat that rises to the top, then bring the stock down to a simmer. The entire process takes about one to two hours to complete.

Lucky for the audience, the wait to taste an example of the stock was only thirty minutes, as Chief Schrubbe had pre-made samples waiting and heated for the students to taste. The stock was rich and thick with a comforting flavor,  like chicken noodle soup on a cold and blustery day. It paired perfectly with the chewy dumplings and the soft chicken. The vegetables were finely cut and added an additionally needed crunch.

As the students enjoyed the home-cooked meal, Chief Schrubbe went on to discuss the five French mother sauces, which all begin by simply heating flour and butter in a saucepan. From there, you can add this to any stock to enrich the flavor or add milk to create a Béchamel sauce.

Stocks and sauces are the essences of  any meal. Stocks add flavor to any soup and can be created using any vegetables laying around the house. Adding butter and flour into the mix, it creates a more rich flavor that  can be added to any stock. This doesn’t just have to be the base for your next chicken noodle soup. This mixture can be used as the base for your $2 instant ramen or used as a glaze for vegetables or meat dishes. It can also be used instead of water when making rice to add extra flavor.

Chef Schrubbe did a great job engaging the audience, asking if anyone had any questions and cracking jokes throughout the presentation. Seeing how easily the stocks were put together gave me more confidence about my own skills. I left feeling like I could conquer the recipes of a professional chef. The class was designed for what students wanted to learn to cook and I could tell that people truly enjoy coming as Schrubbe conversed with returning audience members before the demonstration began. It was clear that this was a great place to build a cooking community.

The only thing that I wished was that there was some type of hands-on element so that I could try some of the techniques.  When watching him cut the vegetables and cook the stock, I wanted to get up close and personal to observe how everything should look so I can remember for when I’m the one alone in the kitchen. However, Schrubbe did mention aspects of past and future classes in passing that made it seem like there are hands-on elements in certain lessons which I would love to experience.

The overall Innovation Kitchen experience was one I never knew I was missing out on. Learning how to take items I have in my pantry and learn how to cook like a big-time chef was exciting, to say the least, not to mention the amazing free food. The soup was exactly what I needed and the lessons are ones that I will definitely be using to impress my family and friends.

This story was written by Anna Houston. She can be reached at anna.houston@marquette.edu