i don't use a ton of beef stock, but it's necessary for french onion soup, which i make a lot of in winter, and it's useful in braising. while there are a couple of brands that i don't mind using off the shelf (pacific foods is one), i've been curious for a long time about homemade. i finally took the plunge last week.
it's easy, but unlike chicken stock, it takes forever. fooooreeeever. one full day of cooking, about 12 hours, and another hour the next day to skim, bag, and freeze. i'm hoping the results will be worth it-- i've tasted it, and it tastes great, but haven't tried cooking with it yet.
these lovely bones are from island grown farmers co-op. they were roasted with veggies and then simmered for about 11 hours. my yield was 6 cups plus 1 ice tray of stock.
homemade beef stock
3 lb meaty beef bones for soup
2 large carrots, chopped in big chunks
1-2 stalks celery with leaves, chopped in big chunks
1 medium onion, quartered, skin on
1 tsp peppercorns
lots of filtered water
preheat oven to 375 degrees. put bones in single layer in large roasting pan and roast uncovered 45 minutes. add carrots, onions, and celery to pan. roast another 45 minutes, uncovered. if bones or veggies begin to burn, remove from oven early.
remove veg and bones to large stock pot, about 12 quarts. cover with several quarts of filtered water-- i used around 6 quarts, i believe. use some of that water to deglaze the roasting pan, scraping up any browned bits, and pour the mixture into the stock pot. add the bay leaf and peppercorns and bring to an active simmer over medium heat. skim accumulated scum from the surface. reduce heat to low and cook, uncovered or partially covered, at a very low simmer (there should only be the occasional bubble coming up from the bottom of the pot) for 6-12 hours. skim fat and scum from the top every 30 minutes to 1 hour. do not stir.
start tasting at 3 hours cooking. it takes a long time to get a rich, beefy flavor, but it doesn't hurt to taste it every hour or so to see how it's going. at this point i started adding salt in small amounts, a teaspoon at a time, every hour. don't stir, but gently work salt in from the surface. (some recipes i've read do not call for salt, but i find it's easier to tell where i am flavor-wise if i add a bit if salt. don't add too much-- most salt will be added in the final recipe.)
if necessary, add water during cooking to keep bones covered.
when it is significantly reduced and tastes like what you want, remove from heat and pour through a cheesecloth-lined colander. let cool, and refrigerate over night.
as it cools the fat will rise to the top and solidify. underneath is a yummy, gelatinous, bronze stock. skim fat from the top and either use stock immediately or freeze.
cooking time varies depending on your desired result. it thickens and the flavor concentrates as it reduces. i learned a little too late that the bones (which i was absolutely pained to throw away-- they still looked so substantial!) can be reused to make a remouillage, a second, weaker stock that can be added to the next batch of beef stock instead of water, or can be used on it's own in soups. sigh. next time.
i'm happy with my first successful attempt. i'll let you know how it goes when i make my next onion soup!