When Lorna went into surgery for the second time in as many weeks, Mrs. Henry knew she had to prepare something delicious and nutritious, something to awaken an appetite numbed by anesthesia, an instant elixir to restore every weary faculty.
Like an Olympic competitor, Mrs. Henry dug deep.
From her mental recipe box she plucked a classic French veal stock equally serviceable as a demi-glace for vegetable dishes or as the secret flavor ingredient to any meat sauce or ragout.
Auguste Escoffier invented the versatile veal stock. Neither sweet nor salty, neither bitter nor sour, veal stock adds flavor and body to nearly any preparation. My Phuong makes this stock and freezes it in ice cube trays. She adds a single cube as a final touch to french beans or mushrooms. The results are sensational.
Lorna drank two cups spoonlessly and pronounced it “worth living for.”
Mrs. Henry’s veal stock
2 veal shank bones (quartered by the butcher)
2 stalks of celery
1 onion, quartered
1 turnip, quartered
1 bunch parsley
1 handful of baby carrots
Roast the bones at 425˚ until golden brown, about 35 minutes. In 3-quart or larger pot cover with water, add ingredients and simmer for at least 4 hours. Let cool. Remove bones and pour stock through sieve. Refrigerate. When cool, skim fat. Reheat to liquid state and pour cheesecloth strainer (or fine sieve). Add salt.
Any veal bones will do nicely. Michael Ruhlman suggests veal breast, and his recipes are highly reliable.
You may roast the root vegetables, as well, but not for as long as the meat. Leeks work very well, too, as does fresh thyme, neither of which were available this time.
The extra step of refrigerating to remove fat ensures a lean, light broth. If you want a richer demi-glace for braising, however, skip this step.