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(post, Judith Klinger)
What is the emergency, go-to, secret weapon that I try to keep in my fridge at all times? And it’s not ketchup, although mustard takes second place. First place goes to:....Veal Stock! If Merlin the Magician waved his wand in your kitchen, he would give you this Secret Weapon. It’s the painter’s white canvas, it’s the keyboard to your computer, it’s butter on your toast. Michael Ruhlman compares it to turbo charging your Mitsubishi... your kitchen is now faster and more fuel efficient. It’s a flavor bump, adding depth and intensity to a sauce. It’s the umami bridge that literally blends the components of your dish together. There is a toll to be paid in order to enjoy all this fast freedom: you need to make some veal stock. I hear you.. where can I find veal bones? At your butcher, you should be patronizing a butcher anyway. They’re expensive compared to chicken bones. Correct! But, you’ll get extensive use from the bones, it’s worth the $$. It takes hours to make it. Correct again, but it’s not like your standing next to the oven, frozen in time, while the bones are roasting. The How-To of Making Reduced Veal Stock Kitchen Magic: 4-5 lb veal bones 1 large carrot 1 large onion 3-4 ribs of celery Peppercorns, salt, vegetable oil, herbs(rosemary, thyme, sage) 1/2 can canned tomatoes 4-5 good sized glugs of white wine, enough to cover the bottom of the roasting pan In a large roasting pan, lay out the bones and lightly salt and pepper them. Roast the bones for about 1 hour at 350F/180C. Remove from the oven when they are toasty brown and the smell is intoxicating. Meanwhile, roughly chop the peeled carrot, celery and onion. Add a little vegetable oil to the bottom of a large stock pot and add the chopped vegetables, another sprinkle of salt, a small palmful of peppercorns, and a bit of rosemary and thyme. Saute until the vegetables are a little burned, this caramelization adds color and flavor to the broth. Add the roasted meat bones to the stock pot. Using white wine, deglaze the veal bone roasting pan, dissolving all the tasty browny bits and add the wine and meat juices to the stock pot. Add enough cold water to the stock pot that you cover the bones. Lightly simmer for about 2 hours. That means little bubbles gently swimming to the top of the pot. Skim off any of that icky foam. After two hours, first remove and discard the bones. Then strain the stock through a fine mesh colander and pour the strained stock back into the pot. (It’s much easier to strain the stock if you pull the big bones out first, less mess and less weight to deal with. Reserve the bones for a worthy dog.) Add 1/2 cup canned tomatoes, turn up the heat to a slow boil, and start reducing the stock. After boiling for about an hour, strain the liquid once more and move to a smaller pot. Continue reducing until the stock liquid become thick enough to coat a wooden spoon, and the boiling bubbles look like syrup. Reducing time will depend on how much water was in the stock pot to begin with and the temperature you are using to reduce the stock, but plan on a few hours. Be careful, because at this syrupy stage, you could burn your precious elixir and that would be a real drag. When you have the stock reduced to about 1 1/2 cups of liquid, carefully pour it into a very clean jar. Let it cool, then refrigerate the stock. The fat will come to the top and you can remove it later. What’s left, is Veal Kitchen Magic. It will keep in your fridge for 3-4 weeks; just be sure to use a clean spoon every time so no other food particles can contaminate it and encourage mold. What to do with Veal Kitchen Magic: Saute a a piece of pork, a piece of codfish (yes, it works very well with a meaty fish), chicken breasts, turkey bits. Whatever protein strikes your fancy. Remove the protein from the sauce pan, keeping the meat or fish on a warm plate, add flavoring like chopped mushrooms, a splash of wine and a teaspoon or so of Veal Kitchen Magic to the saute pan. Swirl these ingredients around in a pan, voila!, you have your sauce a la minute. Pork chops with green peppercorns: Once the pork chops are cooked, add green peppercorns, mustard, your veal kitchen magic and a shot of whiskey to the pan. Cook for 45 seconds, remove and pour over the pork chops. Lemon Chicken breasts: Remove the cooked chicken breasts from the pan, add veal kitchen magic, a glug or two of white wine, deglaze the pan, finish with the juice of a fresh squeezed lemon. Add capers if you are feeling happy. Codfish Delight: Remove the codfish from the pan. Add chopped mushrooms, veal magic, lots of fresh pepper, a little white wine. Cook until the mushrooms are soft, finish with a squirt of lemon juice. It all builds off the basic saute and stock. It’s like a painter’s white canvas, it’s like playing jazz in your kitchen. It’s your secret weapon. This blog post was inspired by a class I gave on Saturday. I hope you guys had as much fun as I did!