OCTOBER 24 2011

Hypothesis : veal stock is indistinguishable from beef stock. Therefore it is not necessary to spend $13/pound on veal when $2/pound beef bones give me the same results.

Testing Method : prepare two pots of stock, one containing 2 pounds veal shanks and one containing 2 pounds beef bones, with all other ingredients being identical.


It is very, very hard to justify spending $25 to make 4 cups of stock. It was actually painful. But I did, really, want to see what the fuss was all about.

veal shanks = expensive

After roasting the veal shanks and beef bones for 45 minutes, I segregated them into their own big pots. Then chopped up all the veggies and herbs listed in the veal stock recipe and divided them into the two pots. Water was added to cover the meat and they were left to simmer ever so gently for 4 hours.

roasting bones : veal on the left & beef on the right

simmering away : veal on the left & beef on the right

They sure smell fantastic! I checked the veal pot periodically because I intended to save any meat I could from the bones and use it in another preparation so I didn't want it to over-cook. But, it turns out that 4 hours is about perfect for shredding the meat from the bones as well as flavoring stock.

After straining each separately, pressing on the veggies to extract every ounce of flavor, I put them to the test.

finished stock : veal on the left & beef on the right

So... there definitely is a difference. My hypothesis has been shattered! The veal stock has dignity, freshness, a refined quality. All of the veggies are there, supported gently by a delicate meaty undertone. In comparison, the beef broth is brutish, swaggering. There is decidedly more fat glistening on the top and the meatiness is a punch in the face. Yet... it is somehow more satisfying and I find myself draining every drop from the little bowl.

Conclusion : veal stock is distinguishable from beef stock... but not necessarily better. I can see that a chef would prefer the delicate quality of the veal stock flavor over the rustic beef stock. But, as a home cook, I lean more towards the richness and umami contributed by the beef stock.

I now have 4 cups veal stock and 4 cups beef stock. Each is designated for a specific recipe and I will not worry too much about trying to distinguish which makes a better dish. I will, however, not bother with $13/pound veal shanks again.


  1. That's some fine science! Now repeat the experiment 25 times so it is statistically significant :)

  2. I assume you will be funding the $650 for 50 pounds of veal shanks?


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