Saturday, September 28, 2013

Classic brown (veal) stock

This is the Cordon Bleu's classic recipe for basic brown stock. When people ask how French chefs get their soups and sauces to taste so luscious and deeply flavourful, it's not just the duck fat, butter, or heavy cream. At the base is a good-quality stock made from scratch. You may want to take a few shortcuts with this recipe but I thought I'd give the authentic version, which I only have the energy to make maybe once a year (I freeze individual portions in ziploc bags). Most high-end butchers sell homemade veal stock, but you'll pay through the nose for it. 

This recipe is not for the impatient cook or those with limited kitchen equipment. But if you have a quiet rainy weekend spent at home, this recipe will pay dividends for months to come. The yield is about 8L. 


Start with 5-6 kg of beef or veal bones. Get your butcher to cut them into pieces 3-4 inches long. Do not wash or blanch the bones for brown stock, because they will not colour properly during roasting. Brush the bones with a little vegetable oil, then spread in a roasting pan in a single layer. Roast at 375F for at least an hour, until well-coloured. (Ideally, use a roasting pan that is also safe for the stovetop.)

While the bones are roasting, prepare the mirepoix: peel and chop 2 small cooking onions, 2 large carrots and 3 large stalks of celery into 1-2" pieces. Prepare the bouquet garni: tie one bay leaf, a couple of sprigs of thyme, 5 or 6 peppercorns, 6 parsley stems and 2 whole cloves in a piece of cheesecloth. 

Once done roasting, remove the bones, place in a large stockpot and cover with 10L cold water. Bring water to a simmer. As a frothy whitish scum builds up on the surface, carefully skim it off and discard.

While the water is simmering, drain the fat from the roasting pan and set aside. Add enough water to just cover the bottom of the pan, then heat over the stove and deglaze by scraping gently with a wooden spoon to loosen pieces stuck to the bottom. Add this liquid to the stockpot. Dry the roasting pan with a paper towel.

Place the mirepoix along with the reserved fat into the roasting pan and brown well in the oven at 375F. Remove and set aside. Once the stock has been simmering for about 3 hours, add the mirepoix, the bouquet garni and 500g tomato puree. Continue simmering for another 3-5 hours, continuing to skim the scum as necessary. Add water as needed to keep the bones covered. 

Strain the stock through a fine-mesh sieve lined with cheesecloth, then cool. Season to taste.

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