Saturday, May 19, 2007

Liquified Essence of Antilocapra Americana


Technically speaking, what I made was probably essence of Antilope Cervicapra, a species of antelope which was imported from the Indian subcontinent to supply Texas game ranches. Antilocapra Americana, which just sounded better for the title, is actually the Pronghorn Antelope, a native of the American West. Not a true antelope as it happens, but indeed the second fastest land animal in the world, after the cheetah (on a good day, he can clock it at 61 mph). And that magnificent specimen in the photo is actually Oryx Gazella, also known as the Oryx Antelope, or Gemsbok, native to the African continent. It's a safe bet we won't be eating him anytime soon either, so we'll just have to settle for that good ole boy from the Republic of Texas, Antilope Cervicapra.

Whatever the species, it makes some fine stock. Here's what to do:

First, get yourself some antelope bones. If you don't regularly hunt antelope, or there aren't any game purveyors in your area, Broken Arrow Ranch in Texas is a good source (I should warn you, once you factor in shipping it's a bit spendy). These are called "knuckles." I'm not up on my anatomy, but they look like the ends of femurs to me.


As for the recipe, any brown stock (beef/veal) recipe will do. I used Anthony Bourdain's, with a few slight modifications. The first thing to do is roast the bones, in this case about eight pounds. Lay them out on an oiled sheet pan and smear them on both sides with a mixture of tomato paste and flour. Put them into a pre-heated oven and roast them for about 30 minutes at 350F, turning them at least once. You want them to get some color, but don't let them char very much.


While the bones are roasting, roughly chop one large yellow onion, one large carrot (both peeled) and two stalks of celery. Incidentally, the French call this a mirepoix... because that's what it is. Heat several Tbsp of olive oil over medium-high heat in a good sized stock pot and saute the vegetables until they're soft and just beginning to caramelize. When the bones are done, put them into the pot with the mirepoix and add just enough cold water to cover everything. Add a few sprigs of thyme, three bay leaves, seven or eight juniper berries and about twenty whole peppercorns. You might also add a clove or two. Bring this up to almost a rolling boil, then turn the heat down until you see just the occasional bubble breaking the surface. It's important to make sure you don't boil the stock, as you want to minimize particulate matter. Simmer slowly, occasionally skimming any foam, scum or fat that makes its way to the surface with a slotted spoon, for eight to ten hours. I know, I know, chicken stock only takes four or five hours, but we're working with red meat here, and it takes longer to extract the collagen from the bones, so don't skimp on time. Oh, and don't stir the stock (again, particulate matter). You'll lose some liquid due to evaporation, so make sure to add water, a little at a time, as necessary. If any part of the bones are exposed to air for too long, it'll impart a bitter flavor to the stock. Here's what you'll be looking at, by the way, for those eight to ten hours:


Inevitably, you'll start this project too late in the day, and when your eight to ten hours are up, it'll be 3:00 am. This is normal. Remove the bones and as much of the rest of the solid matter as possible and strain the stock through a medium strainer lined with at least two layers of cheesecloth into another large pan (you'll end up with about two quarts of stock, so a three or four quart saucepan should do the trick). Wash the stockpot very thoroughly, and strain the stock back into it. Do this, in Bourdain's words, "as many times as you can stand." I strained six times through four layers of cheesecloth, which was slow going but worked very nicely. If you skimp on the straining, you'll have to skim fat from the stock after it's cooled, and it can be tricky to get it all. Once strained, chill the stock in an ice bath. Here's the final product, in all of its gelatinous glory:


This stock is pretty perishable, but it freezes well. I put mine into ice cube trays to freeze, then popped out the cubes and put them into zipper bags for storage. This is an old Julia Child trick. The average cube is about 1/8 of a cup, so it makes for convenient measuring down the road. If you double bag them into gallon size bags, they'll last pretty much indefintely.

You might be wondering just what exactly I plan on doing with antelope stock, anyway... One idea I'll be trying out down the road is reducing the stock with some tomato paste and shallots into a demi-glace and serving it over a juniper infused savory flan with sauteed morels and fiddleheads. But that's another post...

6 comments:

Nina said...

Wow -- that's cool. As a pastry person, just the thought of roasting *bones* in my oven blows my mind. I usually can't even come up with worthwhile things to do with (my purchased) stock... and if I had homemade antelope stock in my freezer, well, that stash would stay in there until I was sure that I'd shown it firsthand to everyone in the world I'd ever want to impress... And of course, I'd use some of it to make that flan dish, too... b/c it sounds pretty freaking amazing.

tommy said...

Hey, thanks. Nine hours of simmering pretty much killed my Saturday night, but the result was worth it. Luckily I had some tasty beers and the Interwebs to get me through it. Now, to work out that juniper flan recipe...

Trisha said...

This may not be a good suggestion but...could a pressure cooker be used to shorten the time factor?

tommy said...

Bad suggestion, but a good question. A pressure cooker probably wouldn't be a good way to go for a few reasons. First, you want stock to just barely simmer, and never boil. A pressure cooker will raise the boiling point of the water, so in theory you could achieve a "hotter" simmer, but this might be too high of a temperature. Second, the bones used in a brown stock (beef, veal, game, etc) contain a lot of collagen and it just takes a long time for it all to leach out and dissolve into the water. Third, you don't want a lid, as you need to periodically skim, add water, and such.

The Guilty Carnivore said...

That's a site to behold.

While I make my own chicken stock (and beef stock for my Pho), for the last 7 years I've been buying demiglace (quite pricey, too - $40 for a tub) on the free market.

I think it's time for me to grow up on do this myself - it is a very satisfying endeavor, it appears. I need a place in PDX to source quality veal bones - know of any?

tommy said...

DJ Carnivore-
Truth be told, RediBase is probably as good as anything you're going to make. But of course, you don't get the satisfaction of doing it yourself, so I say go for it, man. I haven't made veal stock (or osso buco for that matter), and as such I don't have a source for veal bones, but I would guess that Gaertner's (hope I'm spelling that right) might be a possiblity. Or, next time you're at the farmers' market (or at City Market on NW 23rd), ask the Viande guys, I imagine they could point you in the right direction. The meat folks at Pastaworks could probably give you some ideas as well. Good luck. Now, a question for you: Know of any local sources for food-grade sodium alginate and calcium chloride? Oh yeah, that's right, spherification...