Sunday, July 12, 2009

Veal Stock / Sauce Espagnole / Demi glace

So why do we do veal stock last?  It seems to be the natural progression.  I will tell you right off the bat that if you have any moral problems with using veal in your cooking you can substitute beef bones for the veal.  Feel better?  Perhaps you would also like to use a couple of sweaty gym socks to flavor your stock as well.  I have a couple of really old leather shoes you can borrow, I'm sure there's a lot of flavor in those.  Get my point?  I hate to tell you this, but if you want the luscious, creamy, silky, sophisticated flavor and aroma you get from a veal stock, you have to make VEAL stock.  There is no substitute.  Although beef stock has some merit, perhaps in chili, pho, some hearty home style soups, it really has no place as a mother sauce, and veal stock / demi glace, is the mother of them all.  

This particular method is the best one I've come across.  When it comes to making stocks I like to stick with tradition, and I really don't feel like I need to add my own ideas.  I love the way Thomas Keller of the French Laundry makes veal stock, and I love Julia Child too. There are a few steps here, but if you follow them you will end up with enough veal stock that you'll have to have a party to get rid of it all.  Yes, you can freeze it, and I certainly would.  Yes, you need some equipment to do this.  First, at least a 16 quart stock pot.  I suggest a pot with a clad bottom, or a heavy aluminum pot.  "Oh no, aluminum?  Can't I get Alzheimer's disease from aluminum?" you might ask.  I have heard from reliable sources (Chemistry professors) that aluminum you may ingest dietarily will simply pass through your system and cannot be absorbed into the blood steam.  Don't take my word for it though, if you are still afraid of using a lower cost aluminum pot, just buy a stainless steel one.  Second you need 2 different strainers.  1st a regular large colander, 2nd, a fine china cap, or you can use cheese cloth to line your colander.  

The washing and blanching of bones

10 lbs veal marrow bones
double the volume of cold  water

Place the veal bones in your stock pot on medium heat.  Add cold water, and allow the bones to come to a simmer.  DO NOT BOIL (EVER!)  If you boil your stock, the extraction process happens way too fast and will cloud your stock.  Plus you will end up with large globs of particles stuck together that are valuable in flavor but will be lost as you skim because they can't break up in the stock as it cooks.  Yes, the entire process of veal production is cruel, so if you are going to eat it, as I have chosen to do, you have to treat every part of the animal with immense care and respect.  This includes it's bones.  As soon as the simmer begins, remove the pot from the heat and drain into the colander.  Rinse the bones under warm water, and using your hands, wash away any scum that has accumulated on the bones.

The First Extraction

10 lbs washed and blanched bones
12 quarts of cold water
2 large onions
4 leeks roughly chopped
1 celery rib, leaves removed
1 lb carrots quartered, but not peeled
3 cloves garlic crushed
4 sprigs of fresh thyme
4 sprigs fresh parsley
2 bay leaves
2 Tbsp tomato paste
2 fresh tomatoes quartered
10 peppercorns

You will ask before we even begin "Why do we need to do 2 extractions?"  The answer is simple.  The first extraction of flavor from the bones will make a very thick and rich stock, but after a time, the liquid will become thicker and will no longer be able to pull flavor out of the bones.  In order to extract everything you possibly can, you need to re-introduce a thinner liquid that has molecules tiny enough to fit into the small pores in the bones.  These water molecules work like miners getting every bit of precious ore out of the caverns.  Once the first extraction had progressed past 4 hours, the molecules have become way to fat to fit into the mine shafts, so they just bubble around the outside of the bones and don't work anymore.

If you have some cooking experience you will then look over this recipe and say "WAIT!  You forgot to roast the bones to brown them.  You can't make veal stock without browning your bones!"  Watch me.  You will get a cleaner, more sophisticated flavor if you don't.

Clean your pot well, and put bones back into the pot.  Add all the remaining ingredients and place over medium heat.  After about an hour the pot will begin to simmer.  AGAIN, DO NOT ALLOW THE STOCK TO BOIL!  You will ruin it, I promise.

Once the pot reaches a simmer, reduce heat to medium low to keep at a fine simmer and cook for 4 hours, skimming the top with a handheld fine strainer every 10 minutes.  After 4 hours, strain the stock into a large stainless steel bowl nestled in a bed of ice in your sink.  Reserve all the solid ingredients.  Once the stock has cooled, cover and place in your fridge overnight.

The Second Extraction

Clean your stockpot, and put all the solid ingredients back in.  Cover with 12 Quarts of cold water and repeat the same process, allowing the pot to slowly rise to a simmer for about an hour, reduce the heat, and continue to skim every 10 minutes for 4 hours.  Drain into another steel bowl nestled in ice, cool, and place in your fridge overnight.

The Reduction

When morning comes, remove any congealed fat from the top of the gelatinous stocks in your fridge.  Combine both bowls together in a large stock pot, and bring to a simmer on your stove top.  Skim the top often, and cook for 7 hours.  The stock should reduce by half.  You will end up with only about 4 quarts total, but trust me, that's a lot.  Strain the remaining liquid through your china hat strainer 3 times to make a very smooth stock.  Put finished stock into steel bowl in the sink nestled in a bed of ice to cool.  put into 1 pint containers and freeze.

This method produces a silken stock that you will be proud to serve.

The Second Reduction to the Illustrious Demi Glace

I like to take half of my veal stock and freeze it, the other half I like to reduce into a Demi Glace.  What is a Demi Glace?  It means half glaze, and it is important to have some Demi on hand for any occasion.  Demi Glace is half veal stock, and half sauce Espagnole which means introducing a very dark roux to the party.

Sauce Espagnole

  • 1 small carrot, coarsely chopped
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups hot veal stock
  • 1/4 cup canned tomato purée
  • 2 large garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 1 celery rib, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 Turkish or 1/2 California bay leaf

Cook carrot and onion in butter in a 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until golden, 7 to 8 minutes. Add flour and cook roux over moderately low heat, stirring constantly, until medium brown, 6 to 10 minutes. Add hot stock in a fast stream, whisking constantly to prevent lumps, then add tomato purée, garlic, celery, peppercorns, and bay leaf and bring to a boil, stirring. Reduce heat and cook at a bare simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until reduced to about 3 cups, about 45 minutes.

Pour sauce through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, discarding solids.

For the Demi Glace

Combine 3 cups sauce Espagnole, and 3 cups of reserved veal stock.  Put in a sauce pan, and slowly reduce by half.  This will produce a very thick sauce.


  1. Why are the veal bones so hard to find? I'm in the Baltimore area and it seems the closest place to find veal bones is a farm one and one-half hours away. I can find the sweaty socks of marrow bones (beef marrow bones) plentiful. Do I have to buy veal bones online. Is there such a place? My deep, rich, thick demi-glace I make from the beef marrow bones is not horrible at all. It was a labor of love and produced a demi-glace worthy of a few dishes. It was delicious, but now I want the veal bones. Any suggestions?

  2. Everything sounds good except your chemistry explanation. The molecules don't get "fat". Your solution reaches an equilibrium between the density of the solution and the releaseable substrates on the bone. By adding new water you are able to extract more because of the difference in density. Molecules also do not mine. They are molecules, simple as that.