I had a free Sunday (deliberately left clear after Saturday was dedicated to whisky) recently and some beef bones in the freezer thanks to Morrisons so I decided to spend the time making beef stock for the first time.
As usual I did a bit of research first. Checked some tips online and looked up beef stock in my copy of Leiths Cookery Bible. It seemed straightforward enough – brown the bones and veg then boil them gently for at least 3 hours. Nae bother.
I defrosted the bones and threw them into a roasting tray with some oil and filled another tray with the onions, carrots and celery. Both trays went into the oven for about forty minutes until I decided they were brown enough and took them out. The whole lot went into a large pot filled with cold water, some herbs and peppercorns then placed on the heat to bring it to the boil. Then I left it simmering for at least 3 hours.
Now and then I checked on it to skim off some of the fat and scum from the top. After which I made a mental note to buy a proper tool for skimming fat and scum off stock. A soup spoon doesn’t work very well.
Basically that was it. You just chuck it all in a pot and boil it for a few hours. At the end I strained it into a jug and some plastic tubs to freeze. I had a light brown liquid of beefy goodness. It probably could have been a little darker, but I think that’s down to not roasting the meat and veg for long enough. I was wary of burning them and tainting the flavour of the stock.
Now I had some stock there was only one thing to do. Stew.
I dug out some beef, carrots, chestnuts and mushrooms. A couple of hours of cooking in the stock resulted in an awesome stew with really great flavour. OK, on paper I spent the best part of 8 hours cooking but really the bones were roasting on their own for an hour, the stock boiled for 3 hours without interference and the stew was a couple of hours untouched as well. Easy cooking with great results.
2 onions, peeled and quartered
2 carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
2 celery sticks, cut into chunks
Whole black peppercorns.
Preheat an oven to 180C.
Put the bones and veg into a couple of roasting tins and drizzle over some oil.
Roast the bones and veg in the oven for around an hour, turning regularly, until golden brown.
Take the bones and veg out and place them in a large pot.
Pour water into the pot until two-thirds full.
Add some parsley, thyme, a teaspoonful of peppercorns and a couple of bay leaves.
Put the pot on the heat and bring to the boil.
Cover and simmer for at least 3 hours.
Check the pot every hour and skim off any scum or fat that rises to the surface.
Pass the stock through a sieve into a jug for use immediately or freeze it in plastic containers.
You can also boil it aggressively to concentrate the stock before freezing in small batches. Then when required you can add a small amount to some warm water ready for use.