January 31, 2015

Court Bouillon 101

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Court bouillon, meaning “short broth” in French, is an aromatic poaching liquid (and a culinary essential.) This one is perfect for fish, but with minor alterations (see below), fine for shrimp and chicken, too. The basic recipe is enough to poach 1 lb (500 g). For more, just multiply as needed. The court bouillon should cover the poachee by 1/2 to 1 inch (1 to 2.5 cm).

4 cups (1 L) cold water
1 small stalk celery (with leaves), chopped
1/4 yellow onion, chopped
1 small carrot, scrubbed, chopped
1  clove garlic, smashed
1 sprig each: parsley, dill
1 tbsp (15 mL) kosher or sea salt
1/8 tsp (0.5 mL) black peppercorns
1 each: clove, bay leaf
1/4 cup (60 mL) dry white wine
1/2 small lemon, sliced, seeded

Add water, celery, onion, carrot, garlic, parsley, dill, salt, peppercorns, clove and bay leaf to pot or fish poacher. Heat on high. When liquid comes to boil, cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer 30 minutes, or until steeped and fragrant.

Place fine-mesh sieve over large bowl. Strain broth mixture. Discard solids. Add wine and lemon to broth.

Use immediately. Or transfer to storage tub and cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate up to 3 days. Or freeze up to 3 months.

Makes 4 cups (1 L).

How-To: Guesstimate amounts. If poaching a whole fish, put it in your pot and cover it with cold water by 1 inch (2.5 cm). Remove the fish and measure the volume of water. That’s how much court bouillon you’ll need.

Bright Ideas: You can substitute other herbs for the parsley and/or dill.

Waste Not: If desired, retrieve the lemon slices and use them as garnishes. Once your fish is poached, you can use some of the broth as a base for a light sauce.

Make-Ahead: Once strained, court bouillon can be refrigerated up to 3 days or frozen for 3 months. Court bouillon may also be reused. Make sure you bring it to a boil first.


Court Bouillon 101 (For Shrimp)
When peeling shrimp, reserve shells. Add shells to pot along with vegetables.

Court Bouillon 101 (For Chicken)
Omit lemon. Substitute thyme or sage for dill.