How to Make Brown Stock at Home
If you are wondering what’s the difference between “brown stock” and “beef stock”, I’m thinking it has to do with the bones. With a beef stock you only use beef bones, but with brown stock you use both beef and veal bones.
If there is another difference that I don’t know about, please let me know in the comments below.
Brown stock is one of the most popular stocks used by professional chefs and one of the first stocks taught in many culinary schools. More and more home cooks are learning how to prepare a basic brown stock because it is the foundation for making a number of classic sauces including brown sauce, demi-glace, and pan sauces.
When a brown stock is reduced to a thick syrup it is called Glace de Viande. In addition to being critical in sauce making, brown stock and glace de viande are often used as a base for soups and braises and give any dish additional flavor and color.
Brown stock is not difficult to make but does take a lot of time and equipment to make basic brown stock and if you want to prepare a glace de viande, it takes even longer.
Below is a basic recipe for making a simple brown stock at home but if you are not interested in this time consuming process, check out the commercial products now to home cooks below the recipe.
Are they as good as homemade?
Not sure because I rarely make homemade brown stock anymore because I can purchase a really good commercial brown stock for my sauces and stews. These products save me a lot of time so I can whip up dishes that used to take hours to prepare and now take a fraction of that time.
Beef / Veal Stock
Stock is the fluid that results from simmering bones, aromatic vegetables and herbs for a protracted period of time. Bones, as opposed to meat, are employed because they are rich in the protein collagen.
Veal bones are preferred over beef because they contain more collagen. Collagen denatures into the viscous protein called gelatin which adds body to the stock.
Meat can be used instead of bones but there’s a catch. Meat imbibes the stock with more flavor but not viscosity, which is the goal in making stock. Stocks made from meat and not bones are called broths.
To augment the flavor of a stock and deepen its color, the bones are first roasted in an oven. They are then placed in a large stockpot with the water, vegetables, and herbs and simmered. Depending on the particular chef or culinary text, there are three procedural options in terms of the vegetables:
- The vegetables can also be roasted, along with the bones. The argument here is that like the bones, roasting the vegetables will enhance their flavor, and hence the resulting stock.
- Roasting of the vegetables is omitted. Instead they are simply added raw to the stockpot after the bones have cooked.
- Roasting of the vegetables is omitted and they, (along with the herbs), are not added to the stockpot at the beginning, (as in step 2), but an hour before the stock is done. The reasoning here is that extended simmering of the vegetables and herbs causes their flavor to degrade and dissipate. Adding them an hour before the end of the cooking is sufficient time to extract their essence without rendering them insipid.
Some chefs will fiercely cling to their specific methodology but I have to tell you, I’ve made stock countless times, with all three variations and have never seen a marked difference in the final product. I favor the third alternative mostly because it is easier to skim the stock without the vegetables and herbs in the way.
Skimming must be done periodically throughout the cooking to remove excess fat and the scum which floats to the surface.
There are a few other aspects to be mindful of when making stock. Begin with cold water, (which will extract the bone’s proteins more efficiently), use a pot that is taller than it is wide, (to ease the rapidity of evaporation), and cook it at a VERY GENTLE simmer.
The bubbles should only be lazily breaking the surface. OK, with all those permutations and guidelines in mind here are the directions for making stock:
Beef/Veal Stock Recipe
- Preheat the oven to 450° F. Place the bones in a roasting pan and roast for 1 hour.
- Remove the bones from the oven and brush with the tomato paste. In a mixing bowl, combine the onions, carrots, and celery together.
- Lay the vegetables over the bones and return to the oven. Roast for 30 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and drain off any fat. Place the roasting pan on the stove and deglaze the pan with the red wine, using a wooden spoon, scraping the bottom of the pan for browned particles.
- Put everything into a large stockpot. Add the bouquet garni and season with salt.
- Add the water. Bring the liquid up to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer the stock for 4 hours, skimming regularly.
- Remove from the heat and strain through a China cap or tightly meshed strainer.
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:
My Top Choices for Demi Glace