Regular readers know I’m a veal stock evangelist.
Veal stock is one of those magical ingredients that can transform a mediocre cook into an ohmyfuckinggodthisfoodisamazing cook.
Really, it’s that powerful.
My first piece for Gourmet magazine was about veal stock. My veal stock recipe is in the Gourmet cookbook.
In Elements of Cooking, a 242-page book about food and cooking, there is but a single recipe: veal stock.
I once asked Jacques Pepin about veal stock and he said he didn’t much make it. Ingredients weren’t at his store in Connecticut. I found this amazing, until I realized something important! It was Jacques Pepin! He doesn’t NEED veal stock. He could probably make Miracle Whip taste good.
But for the rest of us? Slipping a little veal stock into our food has the same effect as Clark Kent slipping into a phone booth.
Want a veal stock recipe—I’ve got one for you. Want to make a small batch? Follow same instructions, only pour a quart of water over a pound and a half of roasted bones instead of what recipe says, and an onion, two carrots, a bay leaf, and a tablespoon of tomato paste during the last hour of cooking.
So, I’m Mr. Veal Stock and I get a tweet from someone asking, "Well, what do I do with it now?!"
I’ve never really addressed this, so thank you, distant tweeter. I will answer this question and put forth a challenge to anyone reading this blog. Come up with an innovative use for veal stock, share it in the comments, and I will send each of those with the three best ideas your choice of The Elements of Cooking, my book Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking, a set of my All-Strain reuseable kitchen cloths (note: the OpenSky site will be up and running by the end of the week), or copies of my two apps, Ratio for the iPhone and Android smart phones and Basic Bread Baking Basics (for the iPad and, soon!, the iPhone). Your choice.
My amazing assistant Emilia and I will judge for flavor and innovation. I once watched my mom order a bullshot in the garment district in Manhattan and was astonished that you could use beef broth in a cocktail. If someone can come up with a delicious cocktail using veal stock, you go immediately to the front of the line (be forewarned though that I am not a fan of the rubbing alcohol referred to in this country as vodka, but hey, feel free to change my mind. And if you are a fan of vodka, try OYO, in fact the only vodka I’ve ever had that has actual and good flavor (made by Middle West Spirits from Ohio red winter wheat).
How I Use Veal Stock:
Its main use is as a base for meat sauces, in culinary school they’re called derivative sauces. Veal stock has the magical qualities of humility and generosity—it brings out and expands other flavors without calling attention to itself. So if you simply sweat some minced shallot and add some veal stock to the pan and pour it over any meat or fish, it will make the meat or fish a thousand times better. Swirl in some butter before pouring and make that two thousand.
So the same for pasta, and the pasta is amazing. Reheat ravioli in that shallot and veal stock elixer and you have a world class pasta dish (if you made decent ravioli that is. Veal stock with pasta is amazing. Veal scallopini with lemon, angel hair with veal stock has lead to many post-prandial pleasures.
Braise beef, veal or chicken thighs in veal stock and you will have an amazing braise. Thick the sauce with a roux or a cornstarch slurry if you wish.
For a big white meat fish—cod, grouper, halibut, sea bass—sear some sliced or diced mushrooms (really sear them so they brown, don’t steam them), add shallot, white wine, reduce, add veal stock, simmer, swirl in a little butter, and you have an amazing mushroom sauce for the fish.
Ideas in Food, the fabulous team of Alex Talbot and Aki Kamozawa, tweeted a great idea. Braise a veal breast in water with onion, carrot, tomato paste, garlic, bay leaf. Have the veal breast for dinner with some of the sauce and strain the rest to keep on hand as veal stock. You’ve built stock making into you regular meal (I’ve actually put a similar technique in my new book, due out this fall).
I’m going to end here, though I could go on and on about the wonders of veal stock. I will write more should we have people take up the challenge for innovative veal stock uses. There are no rules except for coolness and deliciousness: the three best suggestions have a choice of their desired prize as noted above.
Update: The guy responsible in part for the direction my life unexpectedly took, about to begin teaching at the Culinary Institute's new Singapore campus, the guy who TAUGHT me how to make veal stock, who marked my answer wrong when I tried to define remouillage on the day of the storm, took the time to comment below. Thanks, Chef! Hope you have a blast on the other side of the world!
If you liked this post on Veal Stock, check out these other links:
- French onion soup recipe from the Smitten Kitchen
- My recent post on chicken stock
- Ann Watson of Maisonneuve covers poutine, a classic Canadian dish that has brown gravy, cheese curds, & fries
- The blog Cruditas shares "A brief history of sauce espagnole"
© 2011 Michael Ruhlman. Photo © 2011 Donna Turner-Ruhlman. All rights reserved