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Aaron N. Tubbs

Dragon chaser.

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Some day, I intend to make consommé. Being somewhat intimidated by the difficulty of doing that well, I thought I’d attempt an intermediate challenge first. A while back I came across Michael Rulhman’s commentary about veal stock, and I think I’d read an earlier form of it in The Making of a Chef a few years back.

So, I set out to follow Ruhlman’s recipe, more or less. I figured if I was going to go to the trouble of spending a day in the kitchen, I didn’t just want to end up with tubs full of veal stock and a frozen pizza at the end of it. As such, I decided to make the braised veal shank (Osso Bucco) recipe from Joy of Cooking. This included the recommendation (which was followed) of serving it over Risotto Milanese.

Saturday, I picked up the ingredients from Whole Foods, or at least most of what I could — I had to get saffron at Stop and Shop because Whole Foods didn’t have any, Penzey’s was closed, and I’d never needed to buy saffron previously. The Stop and Shop variety was $1 a gram. Joy called for 8 veal shanks. Three of them ran north of $40, and they were huge, so that was good enough. I set an alarm to wake up early Sunday, and it began. Otherwise I more or less followed the recipes. Here we go, with the whirlwind picture tour!

After shoulder veal chops finished roasting in the oven:

Veal chops in 180° water, several hours later:

Final hour of cooking the stock, adding in the vegetables. Realized 30 seconds later that I’m missing the onions. Shit. Fixed that.

For various reasons, I will not show the disaster that was pouring and straining a twelve quart pot of veal stock (don’t fooled, it had reduced to 1.5 quarts of liquid at this point, but I needed to get past four quarts of junk to get there). I did use an ice bath and a 5.5 quart pot, but things did not go optimally.

I was somewhat depressed at this point, having spent the better part of a day for three Ziploc containers full of brown-red liquid, and a lot of crap to clean up.

But, I had a mission, it was time to get serious with the veal stock. “To hell with the stainless clad stock pots!” I cried. Out came the dutch oven, and into it the veal shanks went for some healthy browning. Seen here with the vegetables, wine, veal stock, and bouquet garni (yes, that ovoid chunk of cheesecloth that is wrapped in string … not perhaps traditional, but effective). Having miscalculated how many leeks I’d need for the stock, I ended up using a couple onion chunks instead of leeks in the bouquet; oh well. And, rather than wrapping it up inside some celery, I cheated. Deal with it.

Anyhow, here’s the osso bucco, right before being tossed in the oven to braise for the first hour:

An hour later, before turning the shanks for the second hour of cooking:

At this point, it was time to start the risotto. Luckily, I had somebody to help me with this part, or else things might not have turned out as well as they did (it’s hard to do all of this stuff by yourself). Three healthy pinches of saffron, a boatload of chicken stock, and a ton of stirring later, the risotto is seen here midway through its creation:

Here I’m reducing the pan juices from the osso bucco. Saucier for the win; shortly thereafter I added the gremolata, but beforehand the reduced veal juices were tasted, and judged excellent. Maybe this veal stock thing was worth it after all:

And, the finished product, osso bucco over risotto milanese, annointed with reduced veal stock/pan sauce and gremolata:

So, I’m glad I made veal stock. About a quart of it is still left in my freezer, so I may find some more uses before it’s gone or diminished in quality. I rather enjoyed the meal it enabled, though some part of me still wonders whether it was worth all the fuss and time.