Veal Stock

If you’ve read Anthony Bourdain’s Les Halles Cookbook, you’re at least curious about veal stock. In so many recipes, either homemade veal stock or demi glace is recommended as a great way to add extra flavor and depth to a recipe. One Saturday, we devoted our whole day to finding out how right he was. As it turns out, it’s worth the time and the money – and once again, Anthony Bourdain was right.

We haven’t included prices on this recipe because it’s not exactly frugal, even though you’re making a lot it. Also, this recipe is all about proportions based on how big your pot is and how much you want to make. Just as a guideline, the veal bones we found were $3.99/lb., which adds up quickly. You could probably find a better deal – and may even find someone who will give you them for free.



Veal Bones (as many as will fit in your largest heavy-bottomed pots)

Olive Oil (no more than a couple of tablespoons)

Tomato Paste (One little can should do just fine)

Flour (Just enough to sprinkle over the bones)


  • Should be no more than 1/3 the volume of your veal bones
  • 50% should be white onions
  • 25% should be carrots
  • 25% should be celery
  • Veggies should be roughly chopped, but thoroughly cleaned and peeled.

Cold Water (enough to fill the pot)

Peppercorns (Based on your personal taste preferences)

Bay leaves (Also based on your preference)

Sprigs of fresh thyme (Maybe 3-4 depending on how much you’re making)


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Assemble the bones on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Spread some tomato paste over each of the bones and sprinkle a handful of flour over them and mix through. Roast the bones, turning occasionally to work the tomato paste and flour through the grease. You want to brown the bones, but avoid scorching – black spots are bad. For us, this took about an hour, but depending on your oven and quantity of bones, it could be more.

While those are roasting, clean, peel, and chop your veggies. Put the vegetables in another oiled roasting pan, and roast those until brown and caramelized.

Dump the bones and veggies into your pot and fill nearly to the top with cold water. Add the peppercorns, thyme, and bay leaves. Bring the pot up nearly to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer for 8-10 hours. Don’t ever boil your stock – Bourdain is very firm on that point. Occasionally, you’ll want to skim the foam, scum, and oil from the top of the pot.

After all of those hours have gone by, lift the bones out (don’t throw them away yet) and strain the liquid through a fine strainer with cheesecloth draped over it. Strain, strain, and strain again – the more the better.

Now you have your dark veal stock! We froze it in 1 or 2 cup batches, which we later regretted, because you often need less than at a time. Julia Child recommends filling ice cube trays with it, which is probably what we’ll do next time.



Take the bones that you reserved from the first round (along with any veggies that stuck around) and fill the pot up again with cold water. Simmer for another 4 hours or so, and you get a lighter version of what you just made.  Just as before, this needs to be strained thoroughly before you proceed to freezing it. This is good as a base for soups, etc., but isn’t such a strong flavor for adding to other dishes.



Dark Veal Stock

Red wine (approximately 1/4 the volume of your stock)

Peeled, chopped shallots (1-3 depending on how much you want to make)

Pour your wine into a heavy-bottomed stockpot. Add the shallots. Reduce the wine over high heat until it is about half of what it was. Add the stock, bring to a near-boil, and then and then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Again – don’t let it boil. Ever. Reduce this for a long time until you’re left with a dark, intensely flavored sauce. It should be somewhat thick, but not close to candy-sticky. Repeat the straining process and freeze as necessary. This is definitely a time where Julia was right – ice cube portions will be perfect.

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