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27 January 2009

Veal stock

I've always been intimidated by veal stock but I've had a longing to make it.  The combination of the time it takes to make and its seemingly unrivalled position as the apotheosis of flavour that does it.

The problem I have however, is that I don't have much of a reference point.  Veal stock isn't an ingredient at the heart of the kosher cooking cannon.  It tends to be something used in top end cooking, and frankly, kosher cooking in the UK is never top end.

Despite this handicap, I think I have probably tried it however.  I'm sure there are instances in a restaurant that I've ordered a seemingly vegetarian dish, or a friendly fish dish that has had some veal stock.  I'm even more convinced now I've tasted my own homemade version.  This in itself is an issue because I'd guess not that many people - especially vegetarians - would be able to spot a bit of veal reduction in their nut rissole.

Nonetheless, I wanted to create it for myself. So undaunted, or rather somewhat daunted but determined, I decided to have a go.  

I've always liked The Cook's Book and with Shaun Hill as the tutor for the chapter in the book, I couldn't go far wrong.  I have tweaked his recipe slightly - not because I wanted to get round arcane copyright laws - but because several other recipe I'd seen call for tomato paste and I had some fresh tomatoes knocking around.  It seemed wrong not to include them.

If like me you've been putting it off, don't go out, buy the ingredients and get cooking.  Yes it takes a long time, but frankly it's bloody simple to make.

I used some of the 3 litres created below in a gravy, some of it as a replacement for water in a cholent (oh so good) and the rest is sitting in the freezer.

Makes 3 litres

  • 3kg veal bones
  • 6l water
  • 500g onions
  • 300g celery
  • 300g carrots
  • 300g leeks
  • Squirt of tomato paste
  • 6 cherry tomatoes

Preheat your oven to about 200°C and roast the bones for about 30 minutes.

Pour off the fat from the tray, transfer the bones to a large stockpot.

Add 500ml of water to the now-empty roasting tray and bring to the boil on the stove.  Scrape up residues that have stuck to the bottom of the pan and pour it all (water and residue) into the stockpot.

Bring to the boil, skimming off any foam.  Keep skimming throughout the process to keep the liquid as clear as possible.

Add all the vegetables and the tomato paste.

Simmer uncovered for 8 hours.  Yes, 8.  You need that amount of time to extract all the gelatine.  The smell was great, it was like having meat roasting in the house for a whole day.

Keep skimming throughout.  If you think you need a bit more water, top up the stockpot.

After 8 hours strain the liquid through a fine seive and allow to cool.

Once it has cooled it will have turned into jelly - all that gelatine is doing it's work.

It's then ready to use or freeze as you see fit.


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Phew! Lot's of work but it was worth it.

@Takeaway - it certainly was.

I favour a version with a mushroom and madeira reduction, like the one in Michel Roux's Sauces book.

The real problem with making it in London is getting hold of veal knuckles. Not such a problem here in Switzerland where I see more veal than all other meats put together.

Veal bones seem to be about the only thing I can get with relative ease that is in anyway exotic (think geese etc) in kosher butchers.

I can't for the life of me remember if I've got that book Howard or if I need to buy it and all my books are in packing boxes at the moment. I may just have to duplicate.

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