Okay so all two of my readers are scratching their heads and pondering where the hell I've been over the past two weeks. I'm sorry, guys! I got sick the first weekend and spent a day in bed alternatively wanting to 1) eat nothing ever; and 2) die, and the second weekend I had to work. So I've left you hanging! You! My public, you! So sad!
Anyway, this week I'ma make it up to you by making the very first "recipe" in the Les Halles Cookbook: veal stock. Now, I say "recipe" in cute quotation marks, because Tony does not provide a recipe. It's more of a free form suggestive section, where he recommends cramming some veal bones in here, chopping some onion and carrot there, dumping it into a pot and simmering for eight hours. It's kind of a big deal, because so many of the recipes in the cookbook call for the addition of either veal stock, or the faux demi-glace made from the veal stock (more on that later), and you basically can't make a lot of the recipes in the book without it.
Veal stock is kind of an issue,though, cos if you've been following me through this at all, you've seen me whine and gripe about the fact that I can never find any veal bones, ever, because there are no butchers in DC. Well as it turns out I was wrong, there is like A butcher in DC, and I found him, and he rules. He is in Eastern Market, where I high-tailed it this Saturday after a lunch at the Good Stuff Eatery (which is oh my god so good but I wanted to die after eating there). I grabbed 10 pounds of fresh (!!!) veal bones, chopped up into small pieces, just waiting for me to make some delicious stock. So hardcore! And they had chitterlings! YAAY!
Anyway. We lugged the bones home and in the morning, it was time to make some stock.
First, wash the bones with cold water and dry them off.
Apologies for the blurry pics this week, the camera is having some glitches or something, and we're not getting sharp pictures no matter what we try.
Then, line an oiled roasting pan with the bones, and roast at 350 degrees for about 50 minutes. However, as Tony says, "if you want to cheat..." OH MY GOD YES I WANT TO CHEAT TELL ME HOW!!! ...dollop some tomato paste onto the bones, sprinkle with a handful of flour, and work the stuff into the bones before roasting. Which I did.
While the bones roasted, I chopped up a mirepoix of 50% onion, 25% carrot and 25% celery, put it in another roasting pan, and shoved it into the oven. Roasting mirepoix smells like Thanksgiving!
Once the bones are browned, and the mirepoix is caramelized, dump both into a pot with some thyme and peppercorns, fill the pot with water, and bring to a simmer. The pot then goes on to simmer for a good eight to ten hours, while the house fills with the aroma of delicious meats. Actually I think this aspect of the stock making process is overrated. The stock smells great for a while, but then you just get kind of sick of the smell of simmering meat. Veal stock is a pretty oily, fatty stock too, so the house just gets to smelling unctuous. The smell gets literally everywhere, causing Husband J to remark, when time came to go to sleep, "my pillow smells like meat! I have a meat pillow!" Sounds kind of wrong, huh?
Anyways, once the eight-to-ten hours is over, it's time to get all the solids out of the pot and strain the liquid through a strainer lined with cheesecloth. This left me with a rich brown liquid with a bit of oily fat on top that didn't strain off, and which I left to gather in a layer on top of the tupperwares as it cooled in an ice bath for future scrapage.
Ladling stock out of the pot to strain.
Voila, now there is veal stock and I can make Husband J's favorite dish, onglet salad and like 75% of the other recipes in this book. Hooray!
Actually I ended up having to make two batches of stock, since the bones and veg didn't all fit into one that still had room for enough liquid to make a decent amount of stock. So another pot went onto the stove on Monday night, causing all kinds of havoc as we (well, Husband J) had to get up at 3:30 am to turn off the burner, and then again at 6:30 to strain the still hot liquid. The second pot of stock didn't quite turn out as well as the first, it was lighter in color and seemed almost greasy rather than gloriously fatty. However, I'm not going to cry over a ball-less stock, but will instead raise the bar by turning the stuff into Tony's makeshift demi-glace in the next couple of days.
Lessons Learned: Butchers are pretty awesome. Roasting mirepoix smells like thanksgiving but simmering veal stock just smells kind of viscous.
Next Week: Well, I'm going to try to make demi-glace over the week, but the next weekend is another work weekend, and I'll be out of the country on business. So no cooking. But the NEXT weekend is Thanksgiving, after which I have promised to make my mother French onion soup. So there's that! Stay tuned!