Not too many people seem to make their own stock these days. On the face of it that is understandable since it is widely available in grocery stores at a pretty affordable price. Consider this though; chicken and beef stock are made with, sit down for this part, chicken and beef! Yet, those boxes will sit on shelves, unrefridgerated for months at a time. How can that be edible you ask? Well, thanks for the question, it had been a while since you asked one. It is simple really. They add a crap ton of preservatives to it. There is more salt in a box of store bought stock than there is in the preteen tears at a Jonas concert. Jonas is still cool right? What? No? Justin Beiber? Huh? He’s a jerk now? Ok, more than at a INSERT TRENDY MUSIC ACT NAME THAT PRETEENS LOVE concert.
Before you even ask, yes I do tend to buy store bought stock often enough. It is convenient, cheap and takes the effort of reaching to the shelf and putting it in my grocery basket and BLAMO! You’ve got stock ready to go. But while making it at home from scratch can be time consuming, it is much healthier, cheaper, and still a very low maintenance recipe to pull off. Plus, when you make it yourself you can toss in whatever you like. You think port wine will add some nice, sweet, bold body to it? Go for it! Got a relative you aren’t crazy about coming for dinner and you want to subtly prank them? Toss in some sweaty gym socks and tell them that piquante zip is rocquefort cheese! So next time you walk by the butcher stand at the grocery store ask them if they’ve got bones to sell for stock. Most times you’ll be able to at least get beef or chicken bones. Do a bit of digging, not literally people, and you can pretty easily score duck bones(best stock ever!), lamb and veal. I managed to only score beef bones this time around so the recipe below reflects that. Keep in mind too that this is a guideline and you can tweak and change ingredients too. Like I always say, if you try something from here but change it, let me know how it works out. I’d love to hear from you. Seriously. Call me. I get lonely.
I know what you are thinking, hey Phatman that is some sweet bone action. Shame on you, my oldest kid reads this! Anyway, as you can see by the image these bones still have the marrow in them. Score! That will add a ton of flavor to the stock. So here is a list of what you’ll need:
5 pounds beef bones(preferably with marrow)
Approximately 10 litres of water(for American readers that is about 2.5 gallons I think, eh?)
2 cups of red wine
Two medium sized onions (peeled)
2 leek(white part only)
1 fennel bulb
3 celery stalks
3 cloves garlic(smashed real good, skin discarded)
20 to 30 peppercorns
1 tbsp sea salt
3 bay leaves
Handful of fresh parsley
10 sprigs fresh thyme
A note for the veggies above; wash them-obviously, and all can be rough chopped since none will actually stay in the stock. They are just there for flavor.
First thing you want to do is roast those sexy bones**I warned you all about the bone jokes. You want to make dirty bone jokes go to a Kardashian blog or something** ok, so roast them for about 45 minutes to one hour at 350f. Roasting them changes the dynamic of the stock immensely and adds a sweeter more full, or as my kids say, more fuller flavor. Keep an eye on them though because you want them roasted and smelling great, not burnt. Not much worse for your stock than burnt bones. Am I right Kardashians?
Alright, bones roasted we then submerge them in the water and get it on a medium heat so it gets to a simmering boil, not a crazy rolling boil. DO NOT add the veggies yet because as the water heats up there will be gloop that floats to the top that needs to be removed with a hand strainer. That gloop is basically impurities and globby fat so really make sure you get it all out. Once the bones have been simmering for about 30 minutes you can add all other ingredients.
From here all you need to do is let it simmer for about 4 hours. Please make sure to check on it from time to time to make sure it isn’t boiling too hard and to taste it so you can adjust the seasoning if need be. So there you have it, homemade stock. Pretty simple stuff. I threw in a few nonconventional things like the wine and the fennel to zazz it up. Fennel is a vegetable I have come to love in the last year and I think it will add a nice peppery, black licorice kind of action to it. So feel free to throw in all kinds of things like port, whisky, turnips, sweet potatoes, go crazy. Don’t forget this is geared for beef and would work well with lamb bones, duck and those type of animals. For chicken, veal, fish/seafood I would add white wine instead of red and maybe toss in some different types of herbs. I had thought of throwing in some rosemary but it can be pretty intense and I think a good stock works better when it is subtle and subdued.
Once it is ready you can cool it in an ice bath, now don’t pour it into ice, sit your pot in ice, or you can let it cool on the stove top. Once cooled down make sure you jar it through a strainer so all you keep is the liquid.
What can you use stock for? For plenty. From soups to stews to a wide variety of sauces it works as a great base to build from. If you like making risotto, and you should, a homemade stock will only make it better.
This batch yielded a fair amount. I’ve got about 7 or 8 litres or so of this stuff now. Turns out it’s a good thing I didn’t find any bones of other animals since I would have nowhere to store anymore of this stuff. Homemade stock can be kept in the fridge for about a week and can be easily frozen for a few months.
The vegetables are at their most affordable right now and the weather is getting colder fast so it is a great time to get your bone on and get stocking!