[Sca-cooks] Beef stock

Phil Troy / G. Tacitus Adamantius adamantius1 at verizon.net
Sat Jan 10 18:25:13 PST 2009

On Jan 10, 2009, at 6:14 PM, Robin Carroll-Mann wrote:

> I just came home from the Top Quality Food Market with 5 pounds of
> beef shin bones.  They are now roasting in the oven to prepare them
> for stock.  I've never made beef stock before -- chicken, yes, but not
> beef -- and I notice that most of the recipes online call for tomato
> in some form or other among the stock ingredients.

For a brown beef or veal stock, the tomato enhances the color, and,  
possibly, brightens the flavor and lightens the texture of such  
stocks, which can be heavy after the long cooking required. I'm not  
aware of any particular medieval interest in browning bones just to  
get brown stock, but I suppose the bones of roast meats could have  
added color, even if it was sort of incidental.

> That made me realize that I don't recall seeing any period
> instructions for broth-making.  Thinking about Spanish cuisine -- the
> form of period cooking that I know best -- I recall seeing recipes
> that mention "pot broth".  That would presumably be the liquid left
> over from boiling some meat or other.

Yes, what the French would call boullion. Could this also (or rather,  
as an alternative interpretation) be the ubiquitous medieval, generic,  
never-ending stockpot used for boiling any large joint?

>  However, that's a separate
> thing from the more common "meat broth" and "chicken broth".

Maybe one is a by-product of the boiling of meat, and the other  
specifically made for the broth?

> So, how did our ancestors make their stocks and broths?  And what
> flavorings (if any) did they add in lieu of tomato paste?

Red wine and mushrooms turn up in late 18th and early 19th century  
recipes for brown stocks and sauces, at around the same time tomatoes  
are entering the mainstream European culinary repertoire. I don't  
think there's a huge body of evidence to suggest that brown stocks as  
we know them are much older than the practice of adding tomatoes to  

I seem to recall La Varenne providing some stock recipes. I'll see if  
I can dig it out and check later...


"Most men worry about their own bellies, and other people's souls,  
when we all ought to worry about our own souls, and other people's  
			-- Rabbi Israel Salanter

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