Tasty Tuesday: Hearty Homemade Beef Stock

Three weeks ago I mentioned that an important ingredient of French Onion Soup is a really sturdy homemade beef stock and promised to revisit that issue. Today is the day; that lovely stock is simmering on my stove as we speak!

I’m totally serious when I tell y’all that using homemade stock in your soups will make the difference between decent soup and so-stellar-people-can’t-stop-raving-about-it soup. The layers and complexity of flavors you get from using homemade stock make it worth the relatively small amount of trouble it is to make it.  This ingredient is practically magical!roasting veggies for beef stock

I know I’ve said this before and I want to reiterate it (until you’re so  sick of hearing me say it that you just give up and start doing it!) but making your own stock is sooooooo easy. It also tastes better and has world’s less sodium. The more you make homemade stock, the easier it is.

Homemade Beef Stock

The amount of each ingredient is going to vary according to how much stock you make.  My standard batch of any kind of stock is usually about 20 quarts, but I’m scaling this back to about 5 quarts. Making stock is more of an art form than a science, so feel free to increase or decrease each ingredient to suit your taste or the size of your pot. Also try experimenting with other vegetables that you’d like to have flavoring your beef stock.

Ingredients:

  • 4-6 Beef bones or ribs with small amounts of meat still clinging to the bones
  • 2 large onions, quartered
  • 6 large carrots, trimmed
  • 6-8 whole garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 small sweet potato, quartered
  • 4 roma tomatoes, quartered
  • 3 stalks of celery, trimmed
  • 1/2 bulb of fresh fennel, including the tops (optional)
  • fresh herbs including rosemary, oregano, thyme, dill
  • 1/4 c. wine, wine vinegar, or lemon juice
  • any other vegetables you like (Keep in mind that peppers, cabbage, and broccoli all end a very strong flavor)
  • 1 T. black pepper corns

The secret to super amazing beef stock is roasting the beef bones and vegetables in a 400° oven first for about 1 hour. Use a large roaster pan (I typically use a big foil pan for this.) Bundle your fresh herbs together and put them in with all the rest of the ingredients. Roasting everything gives you a jumpstart of flavor development.

meat, veggies, and bundled herbs ready for stock

(A word about beef bones: I hate to buy meat specially for making stock and always have a chicken carcass or two lurking in my freezer waiting to meet their stock destinies. Beef stock is a little trickier though. For one thing, we don’t eat much beef–most just venison. I asked the butcher at my local grocery store for beef bones to put in my homemade stock and he pointed me towards….the dog bones! He told me that in their shop, all the beef bones that are sold as dog bones are food grade and not past their prime. Some of them have quite a bit of meat scraps still on them. It’s worth talking to the butcher at your grocery store about what his or her recommendation is for making stock. Those butchers know a LOT!)

(Also a word about that wine, vinegar, or lemon juice: I always try to add something acidic to my homemade stocks. You really don’t taste the flavor after you’ve cooked the stock overnight, but the vinegar, wine, or lemon juice will leach calcium from the bones your cooking, making your stock rich in calcium!)

Once the bones and veggies are browned, dump them all into a big 6 or 8 quart stock pot. Fill with enough water to cover the roasted things  and then keep filling until you’re about 2 inches from the top of the pot.

Bring to a rolling boil for about 20 minutes. beef stock boilingThen turn the burner down as low as you can. If you have a simmer burner on your stove, use that one. Cover the pot and simmer for 24 to 30 hours. Yes, this means overnight! Your house will smell utterly amazing, especially if you include plenty of garlic. Add water several times over the course of the simmering time. About 4 hours before you plan to pull the stock off the heat, stop adding water and let the stock reduce about 20%.

Line a colander with cheesecloth or a muslin tea towel. Place on top of a large container (you might need a couple of them if you’re making a lot of stock.) Gently pour everything in your stock pot through the cloth and colander. Let all the stock drain down into the container for about ten minutes. Throw away the bones and vegetables and wash out the stock pot.

strainer for stockUse a tea towel on top of a strainer to strain the stockPressing moisture out of bones and veggies for beef stock

Return the stock to the stockpot if you want to reduce the stock further. The further you reduce the stock, the more intense the flavors will be. This stock is now ready to use in soups, pot pie fillings, stews, etc. It can also go into the freezer until you need it.

homemade beef stock in jar

I try to store the broth in containers of varying size so that I have flexibility in how much I want to use at one time. At this point, I almost always store the stock in the deep freeze. Occasionally I’ll fill several quart canning jars with stock and store them in the fridge if I know that I’m going to be using them within a week. Do NOT freeze canning jars of stock. I learned the hard way that no matter how much head room you leave, those jars shatter when they freeze and then you lose ALL the stock. Very sad.

If there are any large pieces of meat left, I usually pick those out and add them to the dogs’ next meal. Any meat left doesn’t have much flavor left in it because the flavor is all in the thick, beautiful stock.

It really helps to label the stock if you plan to keep a couple of different kinds of homemade stock on hand in your freezer.

I want to reiterate something important. This process of making stock does take quite a few hours, but it does NOT require a lot of work. Most of the time, the pot is just simmering away on the back burner. Once this stock is in your freezer, it definitely takes no more time to USE than commercially-prepared stock.

Don’t forget to visit Stick Boy Bread Company and pick up some crusty artisan bread to go along with your delicious homemade soup!

Barb My Sister's Kitchen

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Comments

  1. I never buy store poultry stock anymore, but I haven’t made beef stock. We don’t buy a lot of beef, either, so I just didn’t think it was the best way to go. Homemade stock is always better. Thanks for the buying tip. 🙂

  2. I am totally doing this! We have soup bones from buying our half-cow, and I never know what to do with them. And since my husband can’t eat ham hocks (migraines), we need some good flavor for soups!

  3. SO jealous of your beef bones, Sarah! Someone at MOPS today was asking if they could use the neck bones from their half-cow to make stock and I thought that sounded perfect.

  4. Barb,

    This looks SO yummy! I always make chicken stock when we’ve cooked a whole chicken, but I’ve never made beef stock! I SO want to! I’m jealous of Sarah’s bones too! I wish we had the freezer space to get half a cow! Maybe I’ll ask the people I get our meat from if they could sell me some bones. This just sounds fabulous. I’m hungry just thinking about it!