How to Prepare Restaurant Quality Beef Stock
Pretend you are at a prestigious culinary school observing a cooking class. The students shift expectantly, nervously adjusting their cravats as they await the instructor.
In he comes, and everyone scrambles to line-up. Wrinkled apron? Disgraceful. Scruffy? Go shave. NOW. Dirt under the nails? Inexcusable. Go wash immediately.
With line up over, it’s time to learn one of the fundamental skills in culinary school; the technique and end-product upon which almost every other aspect of French cuisine rests: stock.
The French are masters at wringing every ounce of flavor out of an animal, right down to the bone. And today, the instructor will teach the eager students how it is done.
What Is A Stock
A stock is based on bones. A broth (bouillon, in French) is based on meat. While a broth can be very flavorful, a stock delivers a rich mouth feel courtesy of the gelatin that is slowly extracted from the bones.
Along with depth of flavor, it is the extraction of gelatin that is the goal of stock making. Rule number one: don’t rush it.
For beef stock, take the time to brown the bones and roast the vegetables. Bring the temperature up slowly; never let it boil; skim diligently, and you will be rewarded with a wonderful stock.
Culinary students will probably be making veal stock, since the milder flavor of veal marries with a wider variety of foods, but it is much easier for a home cook to find beef bones, so we will focus on beef stock.
The ingredient list and procedure are identical, regardless. (A combination of beef and veal stock is called brown stock and is used in the preparation of classic demi-glace.)
How to Make Beef Stock at Home
- 7 pounds beef bones cut into 2 or 3-inch pieces
- 1 can best quality tomato paste
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 1 cup chopped carrot
- 2 cups chopped onion
- 1 cup red wine or water for deglazing
- Small handful peppercorn
- 4 bay leaves
- 3 sprigs thyme
- Cold water
- Preheat oven to 425° F.
- Spread bones in a roasting pan and roast for about 30 minutes, turning once. Remove from the oven, and paint a thin layer of tomato paste over the bones.
- Put the vegetables on top of the bones, and roast an additional 15-20 minutes, until the vegetables begin to caramelize.
- Remove the bones and vegetables to a stock pot.
- Deglaze the roasting pan with wine or water, and pour this into the stock pot. Add peppercorns, bay leaves and thyme. Cover the bones with cold water.
- Over medium heat, slowly bring the bones up to a very gentle simmer. Don’t let the stock boil.
- Adjust the temperature to maintain a gentle bubbling.
- Every thirty minutes or so, skim off any foam that rises to the top of the pot. Let the stock simmer gently for at least four hours.
- If you have the time, it can simmer for up to 12 hours. Add a little more water and lower the heat if you are getting too much evaporation.
- When the stock is done, remove the bones and discard.
- Strain through a very fine mesh strainer or through a colander lined with three or four layers of cheesecloth.
- Chill quickly, then refrigerate. Skim off the fat from that has solidified on top, and discard.
Where to Find Restaurant Quality Beef Stock Online
So after reading this simple recipe you decide you don’t want to make it yourself but you realize how important it is for cooking your favorite recipes, here are some affordable commercial products now available for you culinary pleasures: