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Daily Gullet Staff

Veal Stock -- a personal reflection

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I'll try the Hill.  Found a wholesale butcher, who does not carry it, and another, who has veal breast at $4.00 a pound.  I'm beginning to learn why so few people make veal stock.

I had trouble finding veal breasts/bones here in Albuquerque, NM and I went to several places. One place was able to get me the veal breast at that price you listed, but it turns out that is the price for it when it is boned. Seems a lot of folks don't want veal breasts with bones anymore. They want it to stuff, if they want it at all.

The other place, where I eventually ordered, was able to get them for much less, and it was much less expensive if I ordered in a larger quantity. And the lower price they quoted was for unboned veal breasts.

My point is, check to see if the price is for veal breast with bones, or without them.

Christine

Where were the places you checked out and eventually had success with? (I'm new to the Duke City)


"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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On the one hand, the professionals Ruhlman admires most aren't actually using the recipe he recommends. On the other hand, he's saying the home cook must, must, must use it.
The section is subtitled "a personal reflection on the home cook's most valuable weapon." So it's Ruhlman's bias, and he states it clearly. He encourages the home cook to make it, and provides examples of how he feels it enhances the home kitchen. To balance that fanaticism of his, he provides examples of cuisines that don't use it all, strongly encourages stock-making in general, and gives the reader formulas, methods, and characteristics of all stocks. Nowhere does it say that one's cooking is crap unless one can source veal bones.
Edited by hjshorter (log)

Heather Johnson

In Good Thyme

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Nowhere does it say that one's cooking is crap unless one can source veal bones.

What Elements says is excerpted in the first post on this topic. Folks can go back and read it and decide for themselves whether my characterization of Ruhlman's essay as "the home cook must, must, must use" veal stock is accurate. However, I did not attribute the statement "one's cooking is crap unless one can source veal bones" to Ruhlman.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Nowhere does it say that one's cooking is crap unless one can source veal bones.

However, I did not attribute the statement "one's cooking is crap unless one can source veal bones" to Ruhlman.

Nowhere does it imply that one's cooking is crap unless one can source veal bones.

Heather Johnson

In Good Thyme

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Christine, I'll call the real butcher tomorrow and ask if the $2.50 was boneless, in which case, what is the price with bones.

But I am beginning to get discouraged about the entire process. Saint Louis just does not seem to be a veal city, even on the Hill, where there's lots of Southern Italian cooking.

Inspired by the thought of the veal stock, though, I did make a vat of chicken stock, backbones, roast chicken bones, a hen from the farmer's market and 2 pounds of chicken feet, which is gelling in my frige right now. I'll defat it -- my German Shepherd thinks the fat is yummy mixed in with his food -- perhaps cook it down a bit, and freeze it.

I guess my cooking will never be haute. But then I never did want to be a chef - a cook is fine by me. (In Barcelona last June I was utterly uninterested in visiting that man who calls himself a chemist - those freshly-fried potatoes with allioli were what I salivated over.) Bourgeois woman, bourgeois taste, bourgeois cuisine.

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I guess my cooking will never be haute.  But then I never did want to be a chef - a cook is fine by me.  (In Barcelona last June I was utterly uninterested in visiting that man who calls himself a chemist - those freshly-fried potatoes with allioli were what I salivated over.)  Bourgeois woman, bourgeois taste, bourgeois cuisine.

That makes two of us. :smile:


Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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In my posts on veal stock, I've been trying to figure out exactly what's so special about it. It was suggested, and Mr. Ruhlman agreed, that its primary virtue is its neutrality -- that it adds texture with no taste of its own. That, to me, sounded similar to what MSG does -- enhances flavor and adds mouthfeel with very little taste of its own. Hence my musing that MSG might add "something more" similar to what veal stock does.

At that point, I asked why, if neutrality was the desired effect, that he suggested a brown stock rather than a white one, and he said that it was more versatile in the home kitchen.

I got some brown veal stock, and used it much the way he suggested. I wasn't assuming that his treatise was a codified recipe, so I took a few liberties with it. As I posted, it was a great sauce, but my opinion was that it wasn't neutral in any sense of the term.

Although Mr. Ruhlman hasn't weighed in on my reflections from that trial, it's clear from the comments of other members that my diversions from the "recipe" as written rendered my opinion invalid. So, I repeated it, sticking as closely as humanly possible to his directions.

I guess I have a different sense of what "neutral" means than Mr. Ruhlman (and apparently, most everyone else.) It's still a nice sauce (although it's thin without further reducing), but I'll still say it's not neutral -- I think that's what's nice about it. And I'll say again that, as nice as it is, I'll never use it on fish.

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fish stock is so damn easy to make I don't know why you would use veal stock on fish.

Stock is one of those things you think would actually be better bought than made. Professionals have the advantage of better technique, consistent quality, larger batches and a ready supply of bones. There seems to be nothing to stop them from making a stock far superior to a home cook except maybe pricing concerns.

Maybe when the original eGCI article was written, the commercial stock market (heh) was pretty dire with only Swansons et al. but both Trader Joes and Whole Foods sell a perfectly acceptable, organic, low sodium stock suitable for everyday use as well as gourmet no sodium frozen stocks and demi-glaces which seem pretty high quality to me. If you want to go even better, there are dedicated restaurant supply websites which sell stock catering to the high end restaurant trade.

The only stock I make nowadays is crackling stock which is so streamlined it's suitable for small batch, a la minute cooking. You can make the entire stock in the time it takes for a chicken to roast and have it ready for the gravy or you could save up scraps and scale it up as far as you want.


Edited by Shalmanese (log)

PS: I am a guy.

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I'm beginning to feel better and better about my inability to find affordable veal bones. And Provimi, who undoubtedly has veal bones out the kazoo, makes a lovely glace de veau. Very expensive, but so far as I can tell very pure, little hockey pucks. They don't seem to publicize it but if anyone is interested, I can go into the basement freezer and copy their phone number.

My thanks to the iconoclasts who took Ruhlman's directions with a grain of fleur de sel.

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But I am beginning to get discouraged about the entire process.  Saint Louis just does not seem to be a veal city, even on the Hill, where there's lots of Southern Italian cooking.

Hi!

I really know nothing about the geography of St. Louis or Missouri, so forgive me if this isn't helpful, but I found this:

"American Pasturage, Inc. supplies meat from livestock raised on grass pastures year round. During inclement weather, the animals receive grass hay right in the pasture. The Elysian Veal calves are left with the cow in the pasture from birth to market. Our farm uses no chemicals, pharmaceuticals, grains, or blended feeds in production of our meat animals.

A supply of Elysian Veal, Pasture Purefect Beef, and lamb is available at most times right from our farm. The USDA-inspected meat is vacuum-packed and frozen. Shipments can be made to any location in the U.S. The meat can also be found at the Greater Springfield Farmers' Market on Saturdays from mid-April to the end of October.

The veal, beef, and lamb are available in popular retail cuts. We try and maintain a year around stock of whole ground beef that runs 90% lean or better.

"We don't observe regular business hours, so call us anytime."

American Pasturage, Inc., Rick Hopkins, P.O. Box 190, Marionville MO 65705. (417) 258-2394.

E-mail: rdhopkins@americanpasturage.com

Website: http://www.americanpasturage.com"

Found on this page: http://www.eatwild.com/products/missouri.html

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Having a huge veal producer in your back yard does not necessarily improve local availability of veal. I live a few miles from where Marcho Farms is headquartered, yet the local grocery stores stock little veal beyond pre-cut scallopini... which was quite a pain when I went looking for a bigger thicker cut to stuff. Ended up using chicken breasts instead.


Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

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Where were the places you checked out and eventually had success with?  (I'm new to the Duke City)

I tried Tullys (on San Mateo) first, and they were the ones that got the boneless veal breasts. Kelllers was the other place that could get the bone-in veal breasts, for a much better price.

Christine

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I just had a thread on sourcing veal bones here on eGullet. There was a local-ish grocery store that had veal bones for me at 79 cents/lb. I already made my veal stock - it is in the freezer and I need to get an afternoon to make demi from a good chunk of it now. If you are having trouble, try calling or emailing your state Beef Council or Veal Council (Michigan has both). They got back to me within a day or two with several sources for buying veal bones.

Dennis

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Well I tried the Missouri Beef Council. I'm learning a lot. Turns out dairy states produce veal, because they take the calves off to get milk. Missouri does not produce veal so, the nice lady at the Beef Council said, veal is a special order product in Saint Louis.

Okay, that's it! Unless someone wants to ship me ten pounds of refrigerated bones -- fat chance! -- veal stock is off the wish list.

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Okay, that's it!  Unless someone wants to ship me ten pounds of refrigerated bones -- fat chance! -- veal stock is off the wish list.

Oh, that's too bad. But you can still do the best you can with what you do have. I think that's the ultimate point of the book, not whether you can source veal.

ETA: demi-glace is very easy to find on the web.


Edited by hjshorter (log)

Heather Johnson

In Good Thyme

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[Y]ou can still do the best you can with what you do have.  I think that's the ultimate point of the book, not whether you can source veal.

Actually, I think that the point of the book is that we all shouldn't merely just make do. That's one of its strengths to me: take your food and its preparation seriously, and you'll be rewarded on your plate and in your mouth. The entire section on salting is a good case in point.

The section on veal stock is there to make a similar case, because veal stock is, for Ruhlman, the ne plus ultra of refinement. He singles out beef stock, whose bones "result in an unpleasant bone-gelatin flavor," as inferior and unrefined. There's nothing wrong with making the case for superiority and refinement, of course. But we shouldn't confuse it with making a more inclusive case for making the best you can do with what you have.

It's an important distinction, particularly if you're thinking about giving this book to someone who can't source the ingredients. Who wants to feel like they're making do with second-rate ingredients on the one recipe in the book?


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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[Y]ou can still do the best you can with what you do have.  I think that's the ultimate point of the book, not whether you can source veal.

Actually, I think that the point of the book is that we all shouldn't merely just make do.

That's not what I meant by "do the best you can." I meant, literally, to do the best you possibly can in all of your cooking. Refine.

Edited to remove all possible doubt about what I meant.


Edited by hjshorter (log)

Heather Johnson

In Good Thyme

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Well I tried the Missouri Beef Council.  I'm learning a lot.  Turns out dairy states produce veal, because they take the calves off to get milk.  Missouri does not produce veal so, the nice lady at the Beef Council said, veal is a special order product in Saint Louis. 

Okay, that's it!  Unless someone wants to ship me ten pounds of refrigerated bones -- fat chance! -- veal stock is off the wish list.

That doesn't make any sense. It doesn't matter which states produce the veal. It matters who is selling veal. I mean, we can get beef bones up the wazoo in NYC, and New York isn't a beef-producing state.

If butchers in St. Louis are selling veal, then there are surely veal bones to be had. Unless every butcher in the area is getting its veal pre-cut and pre-packaged with no bones, there will be bones that have to be dealt with when they break the veal down for sale. Since these bones are generally considered a waste product (unless they're selling the bones to restaurants or companies that use them for stock) they shouldn't be too terribly expensive. I suppose it's possible that there are no real butchers actually cutting meat in the St. Louis area, and that veal is therefore extremely hard to come by. But I have a hard time believing there aren't at least a couple of butchers or meat packagers in the metro-St. Louis area who aren't breaking down whole veal for the trade.


--

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Hi,

This thread has been extremely contentious and that is unfortunate. Nevertheless, I might as well jump in to the fray.

Sam, you miss the point that Joan is making. She is not saying that they do not sell veal in Missouri, just that there is no veal production and that veal bones are not available through retail sources.

I would bet that there are no meat packers in the metro-St. Louis area who break down whole veal for the trade. (If so, they do not make their products available for retail.) Most restaurants get their veal bones in frozen 50 pound boxes, sometimes the quality is dubious. (My only experience with a bony stock came from frozen veal bones.)

There are very few butchers in the St. Louis market who get any veal that is not pre-packaged. The two that I know, do not have veal bones for sale and do not break down their veal.

Veal production is normally centered in dairy states. Many small grocers in Wisconsin have veal bones.

The analogy to beef bones is a non-sequitur. Whole beef carcasses are shipped all over the USA to be broken down at local packing plants. This is not the case with veal.

If I am wrong, and I hope that is the case, I will be grateful to find a source of veal knuckles in St. Louis.

Tim

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There isn't much veal in my area, either, but sometimes local independent butchers will keep a waiting list of those who are interested, and when they get enough people, they'll find a calf.

If you know of any independent (i.e., not working for a grocery chain) butchers in your area, you might give that a try.

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Whole beef carcasses are shipped all over the USA to be broken down at local packing plants.  This is not the case with veal.

What makes you think this isn't the case with veal?

Is it the case that butchers in most of America receive their veal completely pre-broken down and there are no bones to remove? If so, that's really sad.


--

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Whole beef carcasses are shipped all over the USA to be broken down at local packing plants.  This is not the case with veal.

What makes you think this isn't the case with veal?

Is it the case that butchers in most of America receive their veal completely pre-broken down and there are no bones to remove? If so, that's really sad.

Sam,

Because I have talked to or visited most of the packing plants between St. Louis and Chicago. I have obtained veal bones through three restaurants in Springfield, IL., our meat departments won't help in this regard. I have also talked to six friends, all chefs, about their sources of veal and veal bones.

I have my best luck walking into my Wisconsin hometown grocery store and asking the butcher. They always have veal knuckles and dairy cow tenderloins. Find a farm that raises dairy cattle and you will find a source of veal nearby.

Sam, you are right, it is really sad. You are lucky that Walmart has not taken over the meat business in NYC. Go into any Walmart and ask the woman behind the meat counter if her breasts are enhanced. If she blushes, they're enhanced with silicone. If she doesn't blush, they're enhanced with phosphorus and probably formaldehyde!

When I was a boy, Mom served "mock chicken legs" fashioned from veal wrapped around a stick. It was cheaper than chicken.

Tim


Edited by tim (log)

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"mock chicken legs" ... I just had a discussion with my mother about the very same cut of meat. While looking at a diagram of veal cuts, I came across the neck region and saw "city chicken", which refreshed childhood memories. My mother cooked this cut of meat for our family fairly regularly. I asked my mother why she stopped serving "city chicken". She said that the butcher retired and afterwards could no longer find it. The market that took the butcher's shop over replaced "city chicken" with some sort of ground pork on a stick, which I also enjoyed, but just wasn't the same.

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"mock chicken legs" ... I just had a discussion with my mother about the very same cut of meat.  While looking at a diagram of veal cuts, I came across the neck region and saw "city chicken", which refreshed childhood memories. My mother cooked this cut of meat for our family fairly regularly.  I asked my mother why she stopped serving "city chicken".  She said that the butcher retired and afterwards could no longer find it.  The market that took the butcher's shop over replaced "city chicken" with some sort of ground pork on a stick, which I also enjoyed, but just wasn't the same.

I haven't thought about city chicken in years. It was one of my all time favorites. My mom made it with pork and veal mooshed together on a popsicle stick. Maybe it's time for a come back?

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Tim, you can find veal knuckles at Straub's and, I think, Whole Foods, and perhaps the Ladue market. It's labeled osso buco and priced accordingly. To make stock from it, you'd have to resemble the Gilded Age millionaire, I think it was J.P. Morgan, who when asked the price of his yacht responded "If you have to ask the price, you can't afford it."

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