“…if there’s one preparation that separates a great home cook’s from a good home cook’s food, it’s stock. Stock is the ingredient that most distinguishes restaurant cooking from home cooking.” -Michael Ruhlman
Here, then, is a proper yet relatively easy way to make a rich and delicious beef stock at home..
Beef Stock (makes about 1 quart) (informed by recipes by Ruhlman and Darina Allen)
6 cups (more-or-less) cold, filtered water, divided
2 pounds meaty beef bones (shin bones with meat attached are ideal) from a clean, non-industrial source
1/3 pound unpeeled yellow onions, roughly chopped
1/3 pound carrots, roughly chopped
1/3 pound celery, roughly chopped
5 cloves garlic, unpeeled
1 large fresh, ripe tomato, cut into wedges
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
2-3 whole cloves
1 bouquet garni of parsley stalks & leaves, fresh bay leaves and fresh thyme
Arrange the beef bones on a roasting pan or in a large cast iron skillet, allowing plenty of space between each (as you can see, I wasn’t able to find any bones with meat attached, so I rummaged around in the freezer and found an old tri-tip to add to the pan). Place the pan in a 400 degree oven and roast until nicely browned, about 45 minutes. Take care not to let the bones burn, or the stock will be bitter.
Remove the pan from the oven and scatter the chopped vegetables, garlic and peppercorns over and around the bones. Return the pan to the oven and roast until the vegetables are browned around the edges, about 20 minutes.
Transfer the roasted bones, vegetables, garlic and peppercorns to a clean stockpot or Dutch oven.
Pour the grease off from the roasting pan and deglaze with 1 cup of the water. Bring the water to a boil, then use a wood utensil to scrape up the fond (the brown bits) from the bottom of the pan. Pour the liquid over the bones and vegetables in the stock pot.
Add enough of the remaining water to cover the bones, then add the cloves and bouquet garni.
Bring the pot to a rapid boil, then lower the heat to a bare simmer. Skim and discard any foam that may be present on the surface.
Partially cover the pot and allow to simmer for 6-8 hours, skimming and adding water as necessary to keep the bone submerged.
Turn off the heat and allow the stock to cool in the pot for 30 minutes. Strain the stock through a cheesecloth-lined fine mesh strainer to ensure a clear and clean-tasting stock.
Store stock in the refrigerator and use with 3-4 days, or freeze for up to 6 months.