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August 03, 2009

Alinea at Home Extra: Veal Stock

The day is done, the sun set hours ago, the neighborhood is quiet, and most people are tucked into bed, watching the last few minutes of Jon Stewart, turning off the lights, setting the alarm for the busy day ahead...

The clock inches closer to midnight.....


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You're in your pajamas, ready for bed........

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But you're far from tired.  In fact, you know you're facing yet another night of insomnia, so what do you do?  Have a glass of water?  Read a book?  Toss and turn? Take an Ambien?

Me?  I make veal stock.

Since making veal stock for the first time when I did French Laundry at Home, I now keep packets of veal bones in my freezer at all times so I can make veal stock when the mood strikes.  In the past few years, that's been more often than not.  In fact, I've become a bone-hoarding freak, with all sorts of bones and shells and other detritus in ziploc bags in my freezer, ready to make nearly any kind of stock at any time.  It's like my superhero power -- although Stock Girl doesn't sound all that awesome, now does it?  Well, crap.  I'll have to come up with something else, then.

I was curious to make the Alinea veal stock because the ingredient list is different from TFLC.  Alinea's veal stock has no fresh tomatoes, no bay leaf, no garlic, no leeks, but the basic process is the same: blanch the bones, make the first batch, then the remouillage, then combine them, then reduce.  And strain and skim all along the way.

Making stock really isn't that difficult -- I swear.  And, having veal stock on hand, not just for my blog cooking but for making sauces and soups in general, has made my day-to-day cooking even more pleasurable and easy.  And, the best part about making this veal stock is that you can do it in your sleep. Literally.  Well, most of it.

As I said at the beginning of this post, I started my veal stock around 11:30 at night, got it going by 12:30 or 1 a.m., and let it do its thaaaang overnight while I slept... ah, sweet, elusive sleep... which finally came, once I slowly and steadily inhaled the aroma of stock simmering on my stove.

The first thing I did was put the calf's feet and veal bones into a large stock pot, cover them with water, and bring them to a simmer:

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That took about 40 minutes.

I dumped the enter pot of water and bones into a fine mesh strainer, letting the nasty liquid go down the drain, and rinsed the bones under cold, running water.  This first blanching-the-bones step helps remove the impurities and other icktastic stuff from the bones, giving you a better, more pure, final product. 

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I put the bones back into the now-cleaned stock pot, and covered them with water.  I turned the burner up as high as it would go and brought the liquid to a simmer.

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I skimmed the impurities that rose to the top:

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And then, I added the carrots, thyme, parsley, onions, peppercorns, and tomato paste:

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I let this come back up to a simmer, and then went to bed, letting the stock simmer on the stovetop for 8 hours on low heat.

Let me just say that I can't remember the last time I slept for 7 hours in a row so soundly, and so restfully.  Wow.  I know I've pined for sauces and foodstuffs to be made into bath products, but if there's any way to make a veal stock-scented sleep aid, I will invest in that, tout de suite!

In the morning, at around 8:30, 9 o'clock, this is what greeted me:


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I removed the bones and put them in a bowl on the counter until I needed them again.  I then poured the liquid (and aromatics) through a chinois into another stock pot:

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I skimmed that liquid one last time before putting it in the refrigerator to hang out while I did the remouillage -- or "remoistening" of the bones for the second step of this process.  So, bones back into a now-clean stock pot:

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Covered them with water and brought them to a simmer:

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Added some more tomato paste and continued to simmer for another 8 hours, during which time I did some work for my clients, gardened, reorganized the pantry, and hosed off the front porch and back deck -- all while my stock happily simmered away...

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I removed the bones (discarding them, along with the now-fallen apart calf's feet) and strained the liquid into a bowl.

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I then poured this second step -- the remouillage -- into the first pot of liquid:

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And I turned the burner onto a low-medium heat and began to reduce it.  By this time, it's about 5:30, 6 o'clock in the evening on Day 2.

It's at this point that I see I need to reduce it to 1000g.  Now, I know what a gallon of liquid looks like.  A quart.  A pint.  A cup.  That's easy.  But, I didn't know how to eyeball 1000g of liquid.  So, I measured 1000g of water in a bowl and used that as a rough guide or estimate, knowing that this same visual amount of stock would weigh more than water since there are dissolved solids in it.  But, it was a helpful guide, nonetheless.

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I turned up the heat a bit, to reduce it more quickly (so I wouldn't have to stay up all night):

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And, by 10 p.m., I had what looked like would be 1000g of veal stock:

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It actually ended up being 1,015g of veal stock, so there you go.  Done and done.

I stored the stock in four containers: 3 300g containers and 1 115g container.  I let the stock come to room temperature before covering and freezing the containers, and here's what they looked like before going into the freezer:

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Here's a shot of the stock itself:

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Isn't it gorgeous?  I wish you could've been here to smell it.  It's one of those things that kept a dork-ass little grin on my face all night long, and made my house smell fantastic for the next two days.

Flavor-wise, it tasted different than the stock from The French Laundry Cookbook.  Not better, not worse, just different.  The Alinea veal stock was more more (does that make sense?): it felt like it had a wee bit of weight to it (like comparing the weights of a baseball and a softball -- incremental difference at best), it was a tad bitey and it had a deeper caramelization, all while staying silky smooth and sleek.

The stock is in my freezer now, ready to be used in one of the dishes I've got planned for later this summer. 

In the meantime, if you're interested in making your own veal stock, here are some great resources: Michael Ruhlman's blog post on making veal stock; and, Ruhlman's chapter on veal stock in The Elements of Cooking. And holy crapballs, I just googled "veal stock" and am gobsmacked that my old FL@H blog post is the top search return, followed closely by Ruhlman's posts.  That's damn cool.


Up Next: Octopus, Oyster Cream (I know!!), or Idiazabal... or maybe Kuroge Wagyu

Resources: Veal bones from Smith Meadows Farm; calf's feet from Wagshal's; aromatics from the Takoma Park Farmers Market; peppercorns and tomato paste from Whole Foods.

Music to Cook By: Podcasts: NPR Science Friday.  I'm on a podcast kick these days, and in an effort to clear out my backlog of books and articles to read, shows to watch, and other miscellaneous things to do, I've been cutting way back on TV and music for the past few weeks and listening to all the podcasts I subscribe to.  Plus, there's also always some sort of statistic or discovery on Science Friday that make for great dinner party chatter.

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Great post!

Wouldn't 1000g of veal stock be around 1000ml, ie. one litre, ie. roughly a quart?

It's only in the last few years that I've overcome my aversion to American cookbooks (mostly thanks to Ruhlman), but the American system of measurements still seems archaic and strange to me.

(PS I'm Australian).

Anyway, love your blog(s)!

Uh...love the glasses!!!

And, I've got to get that t-shirt soon!!!

Oh, and the veal stock - just another feather in your ever expanding cap of solid cooking foundations.

I was gonna comment that 1000g of veal stock (or pretty much any liquid) would be about a quart, but apparently Matt beat me to it.

Oh man, is that beautiful looking stuff. Color, texture, just gorgeous.

Gotta try this when it is cooler! I made the mistake of doing the FL lobster consomme in August last year, and I'm not sweating like that again...

Just gorgeous.

I have to read it once again.

Do you use 2 20-quart pain-in-the-butt to clean (and lift) stockpots, or do you switch down to a 12-quart pot? Maybe my re-read will enlighten me.

I'm not sure I could ever let something simmer overnight, that would turn me into a insomniac for sure...but the thought of waking up to that rich, veal stock smell...wow. And it looked like amazingly silky, indulgent stock at that. Yum!

Do you think it would it be possible to do the long hours in the oven? I'd be slightly less paranoid about having something in the oven overnight as opposed to stovetop. (Proposed by the one who always has to turn around to see if she left the iron on and/or toaster plugged in.)
It looks luxurious!

I checked several other recipes for veal stock just to compare (did not check the French Laundry one though) and they all call for browning the bones first either on the stove top or the oven. So I guess what I am saying is I was surprised that this was not the first step in this process. I guess that everyone has their method...will give this a try.

I can taste all the flavor of your wonderful broth by reading your post :P
The making of the broth is very similar to making Vietnamese phở

Check my version at http://www.phamfatale.com/id_95/title_Pho-Bo-Tai-Nam-The-Perfect-Vietnamese-Beef-Rice-Noodle-Soup/

Good to know other people make stock when they can't sleep.

This stock should work in the oven as well. I used Ruhlman's oven method for turkey stock after Thanksgiving and it worked wonderfully. I don't see the difference between keeping a liquid at 190' in the oven vs 190' on the stove top. I find it much easier in the oven.

Of course, if someone has contradictory evidence I'm all ears.

How's that smell-o-vision coming along Carol? We could use it about now. :D

Looks fantastic. BTW, to add to what's already been said, a Litre actually used to be defined as the volume of 1000g of pure water. (apparently it's not anymore)

Grats on beating out epicurious on google for "veal stock" -- that is an accomplishment!

I wish I had your patience and your determination not to waste a night staring at the bedroom ceiling, like I do when I can't sleep. By the way, what ever happened to that "pilot" episode you did for the food channel (with the infamous pig head)?

i want to go swimming in that. rather, wrap myself up in the velvety goodness...

Nice work. Am surprised you don't roast the bones first though. Is there a reason for that?

Carol! I was in Maine last week and thought of your FL blog when buying lobster. Next to the tanks there was a little sign: "Lobster Bodies $.50." Fifty cents! You could experiment with lobster jello to your heart's content.

That stock is so purtty!

Is it OK to buy veal stock if you found it at the bargain price of 7.75/quart, and you have already made it once from scratch? Just wondering. . .

Wow. Just wow. You've have a lot of patience and kitchen stuff.

I doubt I'll ever be able to make veal stock, but for now I can live vicariously through you. I often cook when normal people sleep and can so relate. I love the phrase "the veal stock was more more..." reminds me of some old-school consulting lingo: "there's no there there" .

As I'm biding my time waiting for your next post, I decided to go back & reread some of your Carol Cooks Keller goodness, and had to giggle when I read this:
"(Remind me of this sentiment when I'm knee-deep in trying to poach quail eggs and tearing my hair out making veal stock from scratch.)"
Especially in light of the tag!

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