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Veal Stock + Glace de Viande

April 11, 2010

Every carnivore should swoon over this… A post-apocalyptic looking forest of roasted veal marrow bones.  I’m always a little surprising to meet people that don’t like meat on the bone.  Maybe this is due to years of becoming accustomed to factory raised boneless skinless everything, but you should know that bones are what make meat taste so good.  When you cook meat on the bone, it’s is more likely to stay moist as the buttery marrow in the bones infuses itself into the meat.  Marrow is, on a biological level, is the essence of meat.

So it should come as no surprise then, when making meat stock, that marrow rich bones are key.  If you’re making a dark stock (as opposed to a milder light stock), the bones are first roasted to deepen their flavor.  They’re then gently simmered overnight with mirepoix (carrot, celery, and onion) and a bouquet garni (a split leek tied up with peppercorns, bay leaves, thyme etc).  Eventually, everything gets strained off and portioned off for different uses.  You can use your stock as a base for soups, cook it into a risotto, or make it into a demiglace or glace de viande for sauces.

My long time friend Jeff was in town and suffered my crazed and obsessed stock + glace making frenzy.  Jeff and I have an ongoing challenge to raise the bar in making pretentious sounding conversation.  He’s also a needy guy, and at one point we had this tongue-in-cheek conversation:

Jeff: “Stop making stock and pay attention to me.”

Shaun: “I’m not making stock, so fuck off.”

Jeff: “Well, what the hell are you doing?”

Shaun: “I’m making glace de viande

Jeff: “What’s glass du whatsa?”

Shaun: “….it’s, um, highly reduced stock.”

Either way, I don’t blame poor Jeff.  The process of making stock and turning it into a full glace took over 24 hours of simmering, straining, skimming, reducing, repeat… So why go through the trouble of all this?  Especially when stock is readily available at the store?  Simply put, it’s better.  The best restaurants in town don’t get by with working with canned stock.  Most professional kitchens have a collection of bones ready for stock, and it’s the last step in true nose-to-tail eating.  The difference between store bought stock and homemade stock creates the greatest gap in flavor quality between home cooks and professional chefs.  Making your own stock is something I’d recommend you try at least once, though it’s not always feasible to do at home.

For all you kitchen gear heads, check out my new All-Clad 24 Quart Stockpot…

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