In a previous post featured Stocks 101, all about the ease, affordability and impact of making a great stock from scratch. Since we’ve already covered making a chicken stock, the next stock in your repertoire should be a beef or veal stock.
Everyone should make a true veal stock at least once to experience the wonder of the flavor it imparts to a dish. Veal stock is typically used as the base for French onion soup and in meat sauces. Cook book author and food writer Michael Ruhlman says that veal stock has the “qualities of humility and generosity—it brings out and expands other flavors without calling attention to itself” and this is true. Take a small amount of veal stock demi-glace, swirl it with butter, and you have an instant sauce for homemade pasta. Add shallots to that swirl and it’s perfect over a grilled steak. Veal stock and red wine with butter makes a delicious pan sauce for a rich fish such as salmon and it pairs well with vegetables such as mushrooms or braised artichokes and fennel.
Given that veal bones are more expensive than beef bones and both come from a cow, you might wonder if there is a difference. There is. Beef stock is perfectly fine for a hearty beef stew or a beef and barley soup, but it’s the added gelatin in veal bones which adds that subtle extra richness and silky texture when veal stock is used in sauces.
The tips given in the Stocks 101 post bear repeating here:
- Do not boil-this breaks apart the vegetables and meat proteins and causes the stock to become cloudy.
- In most cases it’s better to keep the vegetables in larger chunks (for the same reason as not boiling above) to keep the stock clear.
- Don’t add salt until the end, if at all.
- Start with cold water, and filtered if you have it, which helps yield a cleaner, clearer stock with a purer flavor. There is science at work here; albumin (a protein in bones) which helps to clarify the stock will only melt in cold water.
- Collagen (also from the bones) provides a natural gelatin and only melts at high temperatures. This comes out when the broth simmers and gives body and texture to the stock. When it has cooked long enough and the stock is chilled, it will actually set up firm like jelly .
- The bones of younger animals have more collagen (thus more gelatin) which is why veal bones make such great stock.
- Money saving tip; keep vegetables ends and extra pieces in the freezer in a re-sealable bag. Once it gets full, use it to make a batch of stock.
- Another way to save money is to make a remouillage, a second stock made from the bones used to make a primary stock. It’s a weaker stock but makes full use of the ingredients and can be used to expand the original stock or as a soup base.
Above, veal bones before roasting, and below, after.