Beef Stock is a classic base used for MANY special dishes including my favorite, French Onion Soup. It also makes for a great base for reduction sauces. The gelatinous nature of the veal and beef bones makes for a great thickening agent. For this reason, you should get either veal or beef knuckle and/or shank bones because they are the most gelatinous.
Classically, brown stock calls for using veal bones, however, I couldn’t find veal bones ANYWHERE, so I went with beef bones to make my beef stock. Now if you thought chicken stock was a long process, it takes about 6-8 hours to make veal or beef stock. I know, that’s basically all day, but you don’t really have to do much but let it simmer low and slow. It really is worth it to make it homemade. Veal or Beef Stock is classically prepared as a BROWN STOCK. The difference between a BROWN and a WHITE stock is: before putting the ingredients in the stock pot to simmer, you ROAST the bones and Mirepoix with tomato paste. To see the difference in preparation, check out my Chicken Stock recipe which is a classic white stock.
The basic formula for ANY broth is: Veggies or Meat or Fish of choice + Mirepoix + Aromatics (Bouquet Garni or Sachet d’Epices).
MIREPOIX: The base flavoring for every stock, chicken, veal, beef, vegetable, fish or shellfish, is the Mirepoix. “Mirepoix” is the french cooking term for the classic flavor ratio of Onions, Celery and Carrots, which is always 2 Onions to 1 Carrot, 1 Celery. So for this recipe, I used 2 large onions which produced about 2 cups chopped. 3-4 large carrots, which produce 1 cup chopped. Finally, 1/2 head of celery (leaves included because there is a lot of flavor in those pretty leaves), which produced 1 cup chopped.BOUQUET GARNI & SACHET D’ÉPICES : Aromatics are the last ingredients for the stock formal. A “Bouquet Garni” is made up of aromatics which are fresh herbs and vegetables. For stocks, the classic Bouquet Garni is 2-3 sprig of thyme, 3 or 4 sprigs of parsley, 1-2 bay leafs. You can wrap these aromatics in a leek leaf tied with twine to make a bouquet garni. You can also wrap the same aromatics in cheese cloth and add 1tsp of cracked pepper and garlic and you have created a “Sachet d’Épices”. It just depends on the flavor profile you are going for. For Beef Stock the flavor of ground pepper and garlic is extra delicious so use a Sachet d’ÉpicesPre-heat the oven to 450 degrees and place the bones in a roasting pan, I used a cookie sheet, which worked perfectly. Lightly oil the bones and let them roast for about 30 minutes (if the bones are very fatty, you can skip adding the oil). After 30 minutes, add the vegetables and spread the tomato paste over the bones. Roast for an additional 30-45 minutes until the bones are golden brown.
Until a perfect golden brown and the tomato paste is a rusty-brown color. The french call this “pinçage” which means the tomatoes have tightened in the heat. After the bones have roasted for about an hour, add all ingredients to the stock pot and cover the bones and cook on high for 15 minutes.
Deglaze the stock pot with 1 cup of red wine. I used a very classy Charles Shaw (Two buck Chuck for all of you winos). You can use any wine that you would drink, just don’t ever use anything labeled as cooking wine. I also wouldn’t waste a really nice bottle of wine because the alcohol burns off anyway. At $2 a bottle, Charles Shaw makes for a great wine that is perfect for cooking. Although, it can give you a mean hang-over if you drink a whole bottle. Even though I wouldn’t consider it a bottle of wine I would have on the table at a dinner party, it still has a pretty good taste and it works perfectly for cooking as well. After your pan has been deglazed with the wine let simmer for 15 minutes then add 6 quarts or 24 cups of cold water to the stock pot. Make sure the bones are completely covered. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to medium-low. Add the Sachet d’Epices and let simmer low and slow for 5-6 hours.
Whenever you make stock, funky stuffy will collect on the surface of the liquid. The professionals refer to that as the FOND. You want to skim the liquid frequently to produce a clear stock. The French call this process “dépouiller”. If you were to leave the fond in the stock, it would sour and spoil more quickly.Once the stock has simmered for about 6 hours, strain it using a fine mesh strainer lined with a paper towel or cheese cloth. After all this time, the last stage of the process is straining the stock and cooling it as FAST as possible. If you have skimmed your stock and cooked it low and slow, it should be very clear. The clearer the stock the longer the shelf life.
To cool the stock as fast as possible, I put a measuring cup in an ice bath and poured the stock in to whatever measurement made the most sense for individual size serving, either 1 or 2 cups. By making individual serving sizes, I only have to freeze and reheat my stock once. Once the stock is cool, I put the servings in the freezer where it will be good for about 6 months. Once cooled, place in the refrigerator for a few hours. This allows all the fat to accumulate at the top. Skim this fat layer off and put the stock in the freezer and reheated for later use, up to 6 months.
Yields about 1 gallon
8 pounds of beef or veal bones (shank and knuckle bones) ROASTED
1 pound of Mirepoix (2 large onions, 1/2 head of celery, 3-4 large carrots) ROASTED
8 oz of tomato paste
1 cup of red wine
6 quarts or 24 cups of cold water
1 standard Sachet d’Épices (2 sprigs of thyme, 3-4 sprigs of parsley, 2 bay leaves, tbsp cracked pepper, 2 cloves of garlic)
Roast 8 pounds of beef or veal bones (knuckles and shank bones) for about 30 minutes. Add Mirepoix and spread tomato paste over the bones and roast for an additional 30 minutes or until the tomato paste is a rusty-brown and the bones are golden brown. Add to all ingredients to the stock pot and turn the heat on high, let sauté for about 15 minutes. Deglaze the pot with one cup of red wine. Add 6 quarts or 24 cups of cold water and bring to a boil. Add the Sachet d’Epices. Reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer low and slow for 5-6 hours. Strain the broth and rapidly cool the stock by pouring the stock into a measuring cup placed in an ice bath. Once cooled, place in the refrigerator for a few hours. This allows all the fat to accumulate at the top. Skim this fat layer off and put the stock in the freezer and reheated for later use, up to 6 months.