I know you’ve heard the speech before, To have a great finished product, you need to have a great stock, and Good cooks make Good Stocks. I would love to pass on a good shortcut here, but there really is no substitute or shortcut for a well made stock. The only way to make a great stock is the slow, tedious way, but what you will be left with will bless every dish made with it with a richness and depth of flavor that cannot come out of a can. I love making stock, I do it about once a month and store the bounty in the freezer for future use. It’s really not a lot of actual work, it just takes some planning. The planning mainly comes from sandbagging bones in the freezer. My local grocery store sells veal and beef bones, but they only have a few packages at a time, so I buy them whenever I see them. When I have at least 10 lbs I make stock.
I make stock not so much by recipe, as by ratio. When making stocks in a restaurant, you’re not measuring out water. You start with a certain poundage of bones, a ratio of mire poix to the bones, and you build on that. It’s still a recipe, in a manner of speaking, but it’s a little different. It still comes out the same everytime, but you’re not filling measuring cups of water, there is no time for that in a restaurant kitchen, or in my home kitchen for that matter.
Here is how I make Beef Stock at home, using the restaurant procedure. I used 8 lbs of Veal bones and 4 lbs of Beef bones. If you can find all Veal Bones, it’s better. Veal bones make a more subtle Brown Stock.
Beef Stock or Brown Stock Recipe
8 lbs Veal Bones
4 lbs Beef Bones
About 1 1/2 Cups Tomato Paste
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Place the bones on roasting pans in a single layer, I use two pans. Roast the bones in the oven for 2 hours, turning them over occasionally. Roast until nicely browned, black is bad. When the bones are deep brown, smear the Tomato Paste onto the bones and put them back in the oven for an additional 30-40 minutes, or until the paste starts to brown.
Transfer the bones to a large stockpot using tongs. Cover the bones by 2 inches with COLD water. Bring up almost to a boil, immediately turn the heat down. Skim any impurities and scum off of the surface with a fine mesh skimmer, or ladle. You want the stock at what we call a Lazy Simmer. A slow bubble here and there. Once you’ve achieved this, you can pretty much leave the stock alone, checking periodically to make sure you’re maintaining your lazy simmer, and to skim. Frequent skimming is important. Also, you always want to keep the solids covered with liquid, if it gets low, add a little cold water. Simmer for about 2-3 hours.
In the mean time, add the following (except the Sachet bag) to your pans with the brownings:
5 Medium Onions, Quartered, skins and all (washed)
5 Carrots, Washed and cut into 2 inch Chunks
5 Stalks Celery, Washed and cut into 2 inch Chunks
1 Paw of Garlic (the whole head)
Sachet d’Epices (wrapped in a cheesecloth bundle and tied):
3 Fresh Bay leaves
4-5 Sprigs Fresh Thyme or 2 tsp dried
4-5 Parsley Stems
3-4 Garlic Cloves Crushed
1 Tbsp Whole Black Peppercorns
Coat the mirepoix with the fat and Roast in the oven for about 1 hour or until the Onions are Caramelized. Put the roasted vegetables into a bowl and set aside. Deglaze with about 1-2 cups of cold water in each, scraping away the brown particles with a whisk. Do not skip this step. There is HUGE flavor hiding in these seemingly dirty pans! Add the liquid to the simmering stock.
When the stock has simmered for about 3 hours, add the Mirepoix and Sachet to the pot. Simmer for 3-4 hours more.
Strain through a fine mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth. A conical strainer is best if you have one. I ladle the stock into the strainer. The object is to avoid stirring or disturbing the stock too much, making it cloudy. Also, Do not press on the bones or other ingredients to release more liquid. Discard the solids.
At this point, if you want to concentrate the flavor, you can put the strained stock on the stove at a brisk simmer and let it reduce to your liking. Otherwise, cool the stock down as quickly as possible. Submerging the container in a sink filled with ice water works best, stirring occasionally. You do not want to put hot stock into the fridge.
The next day, take the stock out of the fridge, skim and discard the solidified fat from the top. You can now freeze the stock in small, convenient batches. Julia Child always suggested freezing some stock into ice cube trays, which gives you small portions to spruce-up sauces.
Makes about 1 Gallon of stock
This weeks recipes featuring Beef Stock: