Sunday, August 25, 2013

Court Bouillon

It's French for "short broth" as in broth that is cooked for a short amount of time and it's the kind of thing that separates truly committed cooks from rank amateurs.

The idea is simple. Simmer a bunch of aromatic ingredients for a relatively short amount of time (compared to making real broth) so as to get a light delicate flavorful liquid.

You would see this most often used to poach fish but you can use it for a variety of uses including making a béchamel that will knock your socks off.

The effort required to make it is minimal and the results disproportionately amazing.

The recipe is far from set in stone. You can twist it and turn it in many directions based on what you want to achieve but the basic rules stay the same - a mass of aromatic vegetables and spices are cooked in water and wine for a "brief" bit and then filtered. Fennel seeds work wonders with fish. You can add cloves or garlic if you want a spicier broth. There is considerably leeway here.

The word "brief" deserves an explanation. Classical stock-making takes a few hours and even with the advent of the pressure cooker as we have seen still takes a lot of effort. By comparison, this is brief. Roughly 30 minutes.

In this hectic age of ours, this may seem like an eternity in what is but a prelude to the real recipe but you can have a nice de-stressing glass of wine while the broth makes itself.

An important point for lazy cooks (aren't we all?) — you don't need to peel the carrots or the onions. Just wash them and chop them quickly. You aren't going to be eating them and the skin adds flavor to the product. Win-win as they say.


1 onion (finely chopped)
1 carrot (finely chopped)
1 stalk celery (finely chopped)

1 cup white wine
3 cups water

1 tbsp. black peppercorns
1 tsp. fennel seeds
3 bay leaves

1 sprig rosemary
stems of parsley (if you have them)



Dump all the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and let it simmer for about 20 minutes. Skim any foam that comes to the surface. Strain through a fine mesh retaining the liquid.

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