Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Beef Stock



Rich, dark beef stock takes several days to make but is well worth it.

A good home-made bone stock is an essential base for so many sauces, soups, stews, and other dishes that it pays to be able to make your own.  By using good quality ingredients to make your own bone stock, you will have a delicious and nourishing medium full of minerals, vitamins, and incredible depth of flavor to utilize in more dishes than you might initially realize.  While the process is time consuming, most of it is inactive and can even be done while you sleep.



  • Beef Bones - mix of blades and knuckles (this recipe used 10 pounds)
  • 3 medium parsnips, coarsely chopped
  • 2 large carrots, coarsely chopped
  • 2 large onions, quartered with skins still on
  • 1/2 of a bunch of celery, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup vinegar

1)  Take the bones and lay them out in a single layer in a roasting pan.
cold and unappetizing
2)  Place in a 350F oven for 45-60 minutes, or until the bones have browned nicely and the marrow begins to bubble.  You might steal some of the marrow for a quick snack at this point.  I'm certainly not going to judge you.
hot, roasted bones smell delicious
3)  Place the bones in a large stock pot (mine happens to be 16 quarts) and cover with cold water.  Add the vinegar to this water.
This doesn't look good...but it will get better.
4)   Bring this just to a boil and then down to a simmer.  Allow the bones to simmer alone overnight or longer, but no longer than about one day.  After allowing the bones to have their private time in the stock pot, add all of the vegetables and bring back to a boil.  
All the vegetables!
5)  Simmer this for another day.  The vegetables will have given up just about all of the flavor and nutrients that they have to offer after 18-24 hours, so it will be time to remove them.  Simply strain them out and discard.  The vegetables will mostly be at the top of the stock, while the bones stay on the bottom.  You'll also likely find that you have a serious layer of fat accumulating on top of the water. 

 While I don't encourage you to try to remove the fat at this point in time (we will defat later), if the layer is a good inch thick or so, it's easy to lift off plenty of nice clean fat at this point in time to save for cooking later.  In fact, you can boil the water out of the skimmed fat and then filter it to have some really excellent tallow, which is what I did below.
Pastured Tallow:  greatest byproduct ever
6)  Once the bones have simmered for 3 days, they're just about done and it is going to be time to finish off the stock.  You will likely have needed to replenish the water during this process routinely to keep the bones submerged; I had to add about 2 quarts per day.  At this time, you will have a large pot full of a dark brown liquid and some soft, spent bones.  It doesn't even taste very good because there is absolutely no salt in this. (It is important not to salt a stock, because the final product will either be cooked down a little, or in the case of a demiglace, quite a lot.  Salt the dish that you are making with the stock.) 
bones n' sludge
7)  Remove the bones from the pot, and strain into another large pot through a colander to get any large pieces out of the liquid.  Strain this again through a cheesecloth, and then I personally do one final straining through a paper towel or coffee filter in order to obtain a very clean and clear product.  Let the filtered stock sit overnight in the refrigerator, and any remaining fat will solidify at the top of the pot.  Remove this and reserve for future use before bringing the stock just to the boiling point one last time. 
This!  This is what we have been waiting and working for!
 8)  I like to store my stock in the freezer in quart sized glass canning jars.  I put it in the jars simmering-hot so that as it cools it forms a vacuum which sucks the lid firmly down onto the jar.  I then label the jars with some masking tape (most frozen things in a jar look awfully similar when you are digging through a dark chest freezer in a cold garage).  Note how rich the color is (and the flavorr, but I guess you can't really note that through your monitor...).  This stock came out with this intensity without any reduction after de-fatting. 
liquid culinary gold.
 That's it!  You now have a nutrient and mineral rich stock that is a powerhouse of flavor and the excellent foundation of so many dishes that your imagination will be the limiting factor.  It takes a while to make, but you can make quite a bit of it at once and put it away for future use.  

Now, I'm off to use some for a venison mushroom soup for a very special someone... ;)

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