Beef stock is rich and dark in color. It will add a pleasant brown hue to any food, and a meaty richness. Use beef stock for dark soups, dark sauces, red wine reductions, to add depth to meatloaf, to braise rich meats and vegetables, as a supplement to pot roast, etc.
- Acquire 1-3 lbs of beef bones, preferably with a bit of fat on them and lots of marrow in them. If there are no bones for sale in the butcher section, ask the butcher. In many markets, bones are not displayed, and sometimes they are free.
- Dry roast the bones in a 400 degree oven for 1-6 hours, or until the bones are good and roasted looking. Put the bones in a suitably sized pot. Set aside the roasting pan, you will need it and the fat it contains. Cover the bones with cold water so that they are immersed a few inches below the surface. Bring the pot to a boil.
- Sometime between the time of starting the bones roasting and then bringing the pot to a boil, Prepare your mirepoix, dicing it into 1/2″ to 1″ chunks. How much mirepoix to prepare? Chop enough veggies so that you have a 1:3 or a 1:2 ratio of traditional mirepoix (carrots, celery, onions) to bones by volume.
- Toss the vegetables in the reserved fat in the roasting pan. Roast them until they are caramelized and cooked. Add olive oil as needed. Add the roasted veggies to the beef stock. Layer in more flavor with a sprig of fresh herbs (I favor flat leaf parsley), peppercorns, coriander, bay leaves, allspice. Avoid ground or finely textured herbs and spices for the best clarity in the final product.
- Simmer very slowly for 6-8 hours in an uncovered stockpot. Skim off any foam that forms on the surface. The slow simmering extracts all of the flavor and minerals locked away inside the bones and vegetables, and evaporates a bit of the water, which concentrates the flavors.
- Strain and finish. Line a collander or a strainer with a five or six layers of cheesecloth and pour the stock through it, which clarifies it and removes particles. Now your stock is ready!