Beef Stock

A good beef stock is a rarity these days. Few restaurants make their own (beef base and hot water is more like it) and only foodie hobbyists would bother at home. It's a shame, because a good brown stock is not only the basis of most good french sauces, but it's delicious. Canned beef broth has a tinny taste that no amount of cooking or masking can hide. This is the real deal.

If you get beef soup bones, or shin bones, you'll be much happier if they are sawn into 3" or 4" pieces. Ask you butcher. Butchers are very nice people. I don't know why, but it's true. They used to get a lot of face time with customers, but now they languish back in that chilly room feeding hundreds of pounds of extra lean ground beef through the shrink-wrap machine. Ask them to do a nice butcherly thing, like saw beef bones or tie a roast, and you'll probably make their day.

A few pounds of oxtails make a nice addition as well.

Yields about one gallon stock

  1. Cook bones in a sturdy roasting pan for one hour in a 400° oven. Carefully pour off the beef fat, reserving 1/4 cup. (You're in serious burn territory here; work with caution. This stuff is HOT) Put bones in a stock pot, cover with cold water and bring to a boil; reduce heat at once to low. Skim off any scum which which comes to the surface. Add the bay leaf and peppercorns and let simmer for two hours.
  2. Chop up the vegetables and cook them in a 1/4 cup of melted fat in a heavy skillet until very deeply browned. Add the chopped tomato and cook until the fat runs clear. Add vegetables to stock. Wipe out the skillet and return to high heat until smoking. Cut onion in half and place on the surface of the hot skillet. Cook until onion is very dark brown, almost black. (Don't turn; cook only on the cut surface). Add to stock and simmer for four hours.
  3. Strain and chill as for chicken stock and refrigerate overnight; remove layer of fat.