Soup stock is almost a staple in our kitchen. It’s remarkably useful.
Almost any time we have chicken, we save the bones for use in making stock (freezing them until we have enough to use). If I want beef stock, though, I usually have to go out and buy bones for use.
The ingredient quantities are very flexible, I just whatever I have on hand. All of the measurements below are approximations.
- 1 ox tail or several beef soup bones (I prefer ox tail)
- 3-6 beef ribs
- 1 medium onion
- 4-5 cloves garlic
- 1 tbsp peppercorn
- 1 tbsp bay leaf
Depending what else I’m doing in the kitchen there may be other things in there. The ends of celery stalks, for example, often go in (with the leaves), sometimes the cores from bell peppers, and so on.
This is really, really easy.
Put the ox tail or bones and ribs in a dutch oven. Coarsely chop the onion (quarters or eighths is sufficient, and while I remove the root I’ll usually leave the skin on if it’s clean) and add. Peel some garlic and add (don’t bother crushing or mincing).
Put the dutch oven into the oven at 350-450 for about an hour (temperature depends on if something else is in the oven, higher temperatures seem to produce better results for me but I’ll use a lower temperature if there’s already something in there at the lower temperature) to roast the meat, onions, and garlic. This develops the flavor of all three so the stock will taste better; unbrowned bones make poor stock, and boiled meat that hasn’t been roasted tastes similarly bland.
Remove the dutch oven from the oven, add a few quarts of water, the peppercorn, bay leaf, and whatever else you have handy. Put on the stove to simmer for a few hours, until the meat softens and the stock turns dark.
Remove from the heat, strain (keep the runny part! I’ve had a lot of people tell me stories about putting the strainer over the sink, dumping the stock pot into it, then realizing that unlike pasta or vegetables, it’s not the stuff that gets caught in the strainer that you want to keep) into another container.
Let the stock cool; I usually put it into the fridge so it will gel. Once it’s cooled and gelled, any fat remaining (grass-fed beef is really lean) will have risen to the top and be easily removed. This is much, much easier than trying to skim it earlier.
Take the meaty bits from earlier (ribs and ox tail) and separate. I throw any fat out, and the meat just separates in my hands. Save that for use in soup or the like later.
Really, really easy to do, and it makes for a tasty stock for later use. A quick and simple lunch: quarter head of cauliflower, chopped up, some finely-chopped carrot, a bit of onion, some bell pepper. Heat it with some beef stock, ginger, and a small bit of salt. Great stuff.