Today is the day I convince you to forsake store-bought beef stock forever.
I’ll admit, there was a day when even the thought of making my own stock exhausted me into an afternoon nap. I grumbled about the cost of the ingredients, the time it would take out of my day when I could be at the movies or eating cookies and how it probably wouldn’t taste that much better than the cheap paper cartons of broth lining the shelves of my supermarket.
I was ignorant and no better than a 7-year-old refusing to try an avocado because it looks icky. I just didn’t know any better.
Then the day came when there was no other choice. I left the United States along with my access to luxuries such as pre-made stock, cheddar cheese and sufficiently-padded q-tips. But honestly, is buying stock at the grocery store really a luxury or is it just a overly processed shortcut?
If I ever wanted a luscious french onion soup or gravy-soaked pot roast or chunky minestrone or decadent beef bourguignon to grace my lips again, I had to suck it up.
So I picked up some bones and thus began my stock revelation.
It wasn’t expensive at all.
Bones are the cheapest pieces of the cow to buy. Our butcher gives them to us for free since they’ll just get trashed anyways. Carrots, onions, garlic and running water are all easy to procure cheaply.
It wasn’t time consuming.
Yes, it takes a few hours from beginning to end but my stove and oven did most of the work. It was only about 20 minutes of real work on my part. Kick back, eat bon bons, watch a Ryan Gosling movie. Let your appliances do all the work.
It tasted exponentially better than store-bought.
It was incredible, actually. Dark, full of body, velvety and rich beefy flavor. I immediately used it for a classic slow-cooked beef stew. Huge chunks of bread mopped up the extra gravy not carried by potatoes, carrots, peas or tender beef chuck. It was DIVINE.
Even if I had the choice, going back to the Swanson/College Inn/Kitchen Basics sodium-rampant, watery, mass produced, MSG-filled, who-knows-how-long-they’ve-been-sitting-on-that-supermarket-shelf broths are no longer an option.
In this case, the grass is beefier on the other side.
Double Strength Beef Stock
(makes about 2 quarts)
5-6 lbs (2 1/2-3 kg) beef bones, assortment of marrow bones, joints, and knuckles
6 oz tomato paste
1 large or 2 small onion(s), cut into chunks
2 large or 3 small carrots, cut into chunks
1/2 c apple cider vinegar
3 qt (2.8 lt) cold, filtered water
5 cloves garlic
4 bay leaves
12-15 black peppercorns, whole
See step by step photos of this recipe on the Facebook page.
Notes for your perusal
The more marrow bones you use, the fattier the stock will be. To keep it from being too fatty (yes, there is such a thing), try to keep the marrow bones to around 20% of your total bones.
Also, I season the stock only when I’m ready to use it, not before storing. Every application is different, so seasoning a stock before you know how it will be used increases the chances of it being too salty once you are ready to use it. Food for thought.
For the bones
Preheat oven to 400F (204C). Spread the bones out on a sheet pan, then roast for 30m. Turn the bones and roast for another 30m.
Remove bones from oven. Using a brush or back of a spoon, brush the tomato paste onto each bone to coat. Add carrots and onions to the pan. Return bones to oven and roast for another 30m.
For the stock
Once done roasting, move carrots, onions and bones to the largest pot you have. Pour apple cider vinegar on to the roasting pan to deglaze and scrape up the meaty bits. Add water too, if needed, to get all the bits. Pour the cider-meat bit mixture into the stock pot.
Add the water to the stock pot to fully cover the bones along with the peppercorns, bay and garlic. Bring stock to a low simmer. Let cook until reduced, dark brown and slightly thickened, about 3 hours.
Line a mesh strainer with cheesecloth and set over another large pot or other heat-safe container. Ladle the stock and pour through the strainer. Let cool before storing. TIP: I let the stock fully chill before I move it to smaller containers for storing. This lets all the fat solidify on the top of the stock, making it very easy to remove with a spoon and discard.
Store stock in glass containers in the fridge for up to 3 days, or in an airtight container (such as a zip top bag with all air removed) in the freezer for 3 to 4 months.
This stock is concentrated and super flavorful. As such, it can be watered down and still retain it’s flavor and consistency. To use, combine equal parts stock and water or to taste then season accordingly.