Veal Stock - A staple for the freezer based on an Alinea Recipe

About once a year (mostly when spending a weekend in the kitchen anyhow, it is time to make veal stock. If you have a large pot (mine is 14 liters), making a large amount is useful, it can be stored in the freezer and comes in handy for various recipes, Alinea or otherwise. There are about a million recipes out there, from too-simple to super complex, from quick to taking a couple of days. I usually stick to the Alinea-based one, since the result is consistently good and I don't mind that it take 2 days to prepare. If somewhat in a hurry, Modernist cuisine has a good recipe using a pressure cooker.

Veal stock is made by cooking out bones with some spices and then somewhat reducing the liquid.

In short, it consists of 4 steps: Blanching the bones, 2x cooking the bones and reducing the stock.

First step is to "blanch the bones", this serves to simply remove the most obvious impurities and ugly stuff. You start by placing the bones and feet in a large pot, cover them with water and bring them to a boil. The boost function of the induction stove comes in quite handy here, since otherwise the heating process might take a while. Then you strain the bones and rinse them off with cold water. I find it easiest to remove the bones from the water using tongs and then to just discard the water.

Then you heat the bones again, in fresh water. When the water starts boiling, you probably will have to remove some rather nasty looking foamy parts from the top. Then you add some thyme, carrot, pepper and tomato paste to flavour the liquid and let it cook, lid closed. And let it cook. And let it cook. For about 8 hours. Then you separate the bones from the liquid. For this you need at least 2 more large pots, both at least half the size of the first one. In one you park the bones, in the other the liquid. Again, I recommend using tongs, since a strainer will not be large enough to hold all bones, and handling the large pot is rather difficult. Note that the spices and boiled off meaty parts remain in the strainer and will be discarded.

Rinse and repeat: Clean your large pot, put the bones back in (they will now be somewhat more compact, because some larger parts that were held together by cartilage have now separated), cover with water, add some tomato paste and cook for another 8 hours.

This time, when straining the liquid into a fresh pot, the bones get discarded. Again, use tongs.

Clean the large pot, combine the two liquids and let simmer, no lid this time, until the liquid has reduced to about half the amount. Put in suitable containers (I would use 500 ml glasses containers with a screw top), let cool to room temperature and then put in freezer. If you are making a large amount (the recipe below yields about 5-6 liters, make sure to not put them in the freezer all at once, otherwise your freezer temperature will get to high and you might spoil other food in there. And leave one portion out and treat you with some nice Pho :-)

And that is it. Two last thoughts: There are recipes where precision is key. This is not one of them. Have a little more or less bones, don't have time for 8 hours in a step, but only 7, none of it matters in the end. It will turn out fine.

And finally, I recommend not using any salt when making the stock. Yes, when you try it, it will taste somewhat bland, but I prefer to be able to regulate the level of saltiness when actually using the stock.

The recipe

  • large! stock pot
Veal stock
5 kg veal bones, cut into 5cm length, or whatever the butcher gives you that is reasonably close
1 calf’s feet, split lengthwise
3 onions, roughly diced
6 carrots, roughly diced
50 g black peppercorns
2 bunches thyme
400 g tomato paste

Place bones and feet in large stockpot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and remove from heat. Remove bones and feet and rinse with cold water.

Clean stockpot. Return bones and feet and cover with water by about 15 cm, place over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, skim away impurities and fat from surface. Add onions, carrots, peppercorns, thyme and 200 g tomato paste. Let simmer gently with closed lid for 8 hours. Remove bones and feet from pot and reserve. Strain liquid through chinois and reserve.

Clean stockpot. Return bones and feet and cover with water by about 15 cm, place over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat add 200 g tomato paste. Let simmer gently with closed lid for another 8 hours. Remove and discard bones and feet. Strain liquid through chinois and reserve.

Clean stockpot. Combine both reserved liquid in stockpot and reduce over medium heat to about 1/2. Strain through fine mesh sieve, and portion in suitable containers.