Basic Beef Stock

There are many excellent, hard working recipes for stock. It is a forgiving process, and only two things can make you fail. First is using meat that has begun to spoil, or is "off". That is a flavor that will not cook away and will spoil the broth.  The second is neglect. I have been guilty in a fit of multi-tasking of failing to check on the stock only to smell it burning from the stove. Once your pot is dry and burning, you're done.

This recipe is adapted from Jennifer McLagan's recipe for Brown Stock from her beautiful book Bones, Recipes, History and Lore.

Makes 6 - 7 cups

2 carrots, sliced
1 large onion, unpeeled, cut into wedges
1 celery stalk, sliced
4 1/2 pounds (2 kg) mixed beef bones and/or ox tail preferably with scraps of meat on them
1 bay leaf
1/4 tsp black peppercorns

Note: consider this ingredient list to be more of a guideline. The meat is the most important part and any ingredient you do not have will not matter much. More and more often, I use just the meat as most everything you make later using the stock will have its own flavorings. I also do not salt the stock - I salt the final dish.  Especially if you are planning to really reduce your stock for extra richness, any seasoning or salt will also become concentrated and can become overpowering.

Preheat oven to 425 F. Scatter the carrots, celery and onion over the bottom of a large roasting pan.  Rinse your meat well under cold running water and pat dry; placing it on top of the vegetables.  Roast for 1 hour, turning the meat after 30 minutes.

Using tongs, transfer the meat and veggies to a large stockpot.  Discard any fat from the roasting pan. Using 2 cups of broth, 1/4 cup sherry mixed into 2 cups water or just 2 cups water, deglaze the roasting pan by placing over medium low heat, bringing to a boil and scraping up the browned bits from the bottom.

Pour this liquid into the stockpot and add 10 cups cold water.  Bring just to a boil,  then reduce the heat so that the liquid simmers, and skim off the foam.  Add bay leaf and peppercorns and simmer gently for about 5 hours, skimming from time to time.

Strain the stock through a sieve into a large bowl. Allow to cool, then refrigerate overnight.

Next morning, you will have a jellied liquid topped with fat. Remove the fat before using, and discard the debris at the bottom of the bowl.

Refrigerate up to 3 days or freeze up to 6 months. If you want to keep stock refrigerated longer than 3 days, boil it for 10 minutes, then chill it again.