Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Beef Stock

I made beef stock the other day at home. Stock is one of the major foundations for any sort of cooking, especially anything in a restaurant. Stock is mostly made from scraps of other products. The thing is, these days most places get all their food already processed; no one cuts up their own meat most of the time. So, in this case you can buy your beef bones already cut up at the store or from your purveyor if you want to make your own stock (like me).

Making stock is easy because the ingredients are percentages (by weight) of a whole. The breakdown is 100% water, 50% bones, 10% mirepoix. One gallon of water weighs eight pounds, so for one gallon of stock you use one gallon water, four pounds bones, and 12 oz of mirepoix (onions, carrot and celery chopped).

Other ingredients are:
Sachet (parsley stems, bay leaf, sprig of thyme, peppercorns)
Tomato paste
Red wine

You will also need a large stockpot and a roasting pan.

Here's the beef bones, just over 4 lbs.

And the sachet.

Wrapped in cheesecloth, with a string or something tied on the end so you can connect it to the handle of the stockpot for easy removal.

I roughly chopped the mirepoix. Also, for stock, you want your mirepoix to be 50% onion, 25% carrot and 25% celery.

Roast the beef bones at 400 degrees . . .

until they are well browned.

Then, slather on the tomato paste with a spatula.

And throw them back in the oven . . .

for just a short time and the paste is melted into the bones.

Remove the bones from the pan and put them in the stockpot, and drain the fat off, discard.

Then take the red wine and deglaze the pan to get all the bits of meat and fat off the pan and pour it into the stockpot with the bones.

Then put the mirepoix in the roasting pan and throw it in the oven.

While the mirepoix is roasting, add the water (cold) to the stockpot. You want cold water because then more of the impurities in the bones are removed if the water goes through the full range of temperatures. Some impurities are removed with cold water only.

The mirepox shouldn't take long to brown slightly, only a few minutes.

Add the mirepoix and sachet; bring up to a boil

Skim the impurities off the top right when it gets to boiling point, and turn the heat down to a simmer.

A beef stock is usually ready in 6-8 hours of simmering.

I left mine on overnight (about 10 hours).

Remove the sachet.

Line a strainer with cheesecloth . . .

Remove the bones with tongs . . .

And pour the liquid through the strainer.

At this point, you want to cool it down quickly so harmful bacteria have a lesser chance to grow, so you want to vent it in an ice water bath.

The sanitation rules say that the product must be down to 70 degrees within two hours, and down to 40 within four hours after taking off the heat.

Here are the bones after simmering all night.

Also, you don't want to put a hot product in your refrigerator because it will heat everything else in there up. I made sure i got it down to about 60 before i put it in the refrigerator.

Next time, i'll use the stock in a sauce


Gary Gnu said...

You know, they have these cubes now, where you just drop them in some boiling water and 5 minutes later you have the same stuff. But what you did looks like a lot more fun.

Big Chief said...

What's the flavor like? Does it have a much more 'real' taste to it than the carton that I usually buy?

Anonymous said...

this stock is going to be MUCH better than the carton you buy, and MUCH, MUCH, MUCH better than the little cubes.

The cubes are just salt and artificial colors.

The stuff in the carton is watery and again, mostly salt.

Homemade stock like this is incredible, I make 5-6 gallons every 2-3 months, freeze it in paper cups and ice cube trays, then once frozen put it in gallon ziploc bags in the freezer - ready to use whenever you need it.

I sometimes just drop some in a cup and nuke it for a hot drink. Yummy.