Homemade Beef Stock

I totally get it... making your own beef stock sounds like a huge task. And if I’m being honest, it can be. Though, if you are a serious home cook, I really do recommend trying to make your own. I always have so much fun trying to make everything from scratch, at least once, if only just to learn the technique and really get an appreciation for that homemade taste.

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I totally get it… making your own beef stock sounds like a huge task. And if I’m being honest, it can be. Though, if you are a serious home cook, I really do recommend trying to make your own. I always have so much fun trying to make everything from scratch, at least once, if only just to learn the technique and really get an appreciation for that homemade taste.

Is it always worth the hassle? No. If your recipe calls for a ½ cup of beef stock, you will be just fine using a good-quality stock from the grocery store. Making a big batch of French onion soup? Homemade is the way to go, and you will definitely notice the difference.

Homemade beef stock can be made with just beef soup bones, but I like to add in a few meaty bones — like beef oxtail and short ribs — for extra flavor. You can store leftover beef bones in the freezer until you feel you have enough to make a big batch of stock. Alternatively, you can sometimes find beef bones (both fresh and frozen) in the grocery store or by asking the butcher at your local meat market. Recently, I have been super lucky at finding packages of very inexpensive frozen beef bones at our local grocery store and they work marvellously!

This recipe is actually for a brown beef stock — because the soup bones and meaty bones are browned in the oven or skillet before they go into the stock pot. This gives the stock that dark brown color and an extra-rich flavor.

You then simmer the bones and meaty bits in water with different root vegetables and herbs. I usually simmer stock for around 8 hours to really extract all of the flavor. A slow and low simmer is important here — around 180°F or 190°F. You should just see small bubbles occasionally rise to the surface. Boiling the stock can cause any fat, protein, and other particles to emulsify into the liquid, giving the stock a cloudy and less-appetizing appearance and impacting the overall flavor of the finished product.

After the stock has been strained and has cooled slightly, I like to portion it out into large 32-ounce containers and place them uncovered in the fridge for a few hours. After completely cooled, I lid them and throw them in the freezer, and voilà we have homemade beef stock ready to go!

First, preheat your oven to 450ºF.

Stock requires a lot of veggies, all washed, peeled, and roughly chopped. I like to get all that work out of the way at the beginning, along with measuring out my herbs and spices.

Then, comes the browning.

I like to roast my beef bones in the oven (at 450ºF) for about 30 to 45 minutes, until they are evenly browned. There’s no right way of doing this — just flip them and baste them (in their own juices) regularly until you are happy with the color. When done, remove the pan from the oven and drain away the fat.

Meanwhile, on the stovetop, I like to sear my meaty bones in butter and olive oil for about 5 to 10 minutes, until they are a nice, dark brown color.

Transfer all of the browned bones and meat into a large stock pot. Pour a small amount of water into each pan (while they are still hot) and scrape up all the brown bits. This is called “deglazing”, and adding these little bits to the stock gives it even more flavor and color.

Then, add enough cold water to just cover the browned meat and bones by about 1 inch. Set the stock pot over moderate heat and, with a spoon, scrape off the “scum” that begins to appear at the surface of the water for a good 5 minutes or so.

Add in all your vegetables, herbs, and spices to the stock pot and pour in more water until all of the ingredients are, again, covered by about 1 inch. As the stock comes back to a simmer, continue to scrape off any “scum” using a spoon.

Okay, the hard part is over! Reduce the heat to between low and very low, and slowly simmer the stock for several hours — I recommend at least 8 hours. You don’t want your liquid to boil, so I suggest watching it for the first little bit and using the lowest setting on your stovetop, if necessary.

Otherwise, you can leave it alone for much of those 8 hours, checking in once in a while to scrape off any fat or scum that has accumulated at the surface.

Towards the end of the 8 hours, start tasting your stock to make sure it is perfectly seasoned. Once you are convinced that you have extracted the most out of your ingredients — and, for me, it’s always way too late for me to still be awake — you can turn off the stove and start removing the bones and large vegetable pieces from the stock with a spoon.

Then, pour the stock through a mesh wire strainer or sieve to remove the small particles from the stock. I like to strain the stock once more through some kitchen paper towel — in my experience, the thinner the better. Alternatively, you can just use the kitchen paper towel to blot up any remaining fat or scum from the surface of the stock.

Finally, pour your finished stock into individual food storage containers and allow it to cool. Feel free to use whatever Tupperware you have, but I like to have some larger 24-ounce or 32-ounce containers on hand for this recipe.

Allow it all to cool, transferring it into the fridge (uncovered) after a half-hour or so. When completely cool, lid the containers and refrigerate or freeze.

Homemade Beef Stock

I totally get it… making your own beef stock sounds like a huge task. And if I’m being honest, it can be. Though, if you are a serious home cook, I really do recommend trying to make your own. I always have so much fun trying to make everything from scratch, at least once, if only just to learn the technique and really get an appreciation for that homemade taste.
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 40 mins
Cook Time 8 hrs
Total Time 8 hrs 40 mins
Servings 5 quarts
Category Basics

Ingredients
  

Beef

  • Approx. 3½–4 kg beef soup bones
  • Approx. 1–1½ kg meaty bones (e.g., beef oxtail, short ribs)

For Cooking

  • 1–2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Approx. 5 quarts water

Vegetables

  • 3 medium onions, peeled and halved
  • 3 medium carrots, washed, peeled, and roughly chopped into thirds
  • 3 leeks, washed and roughly chopped into thirds
  • 3 stalks of celery, washed and roughly chopped into thirds
  • 1 head of garlic, halved crosswise

Herbs

  • 2 bay leaves, whole
  • 3 sprigs of fresh thyme, whole
  • 10 sprigs of fresh parsley (about ⅓ of the package), whole

Spices

  • 2 Tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp whole black peppercorns

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 450ºF.
  • Wash and chop all vegetables. Prepare all herbs and spices.
  • Arrange the beef soup bones onto a sheet pan or roasting pan and place onto the middle rack of the oven. Turn the bones regularly and cook until browned evenly (about 30 to 45 minutes). Remove from the oven and drain fat.
    Approx. 3½–4 kg beef soup bones
  • Meanwhile, in a skillet or stovetop frying pan, heat butter and oil until foaming subsides. Arrange the meaty bones in the skillet or pan and sear them in butter until evenly browned (about 5 to 10 minutes).
    Approx. 1–1½ kg meaty bones
    1–2 Tbsp unsalted butter
    1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Transfer the browned soup bones and meaty bones into a large stock pot. Deglaze both pans by pouring water into them, while still hot, and scraping up all brown bits. Pour the juices into the stock pot.
  • Add enough cold water to cover the browned meat and bones by about 1 inch.
    Approx. 5 quarts water
  • Set over moderate heat. As the liquid begins to simmer, scum will accumulate at the surface. Using a spoon, scrape off the scum until it ceases to accumulate (about 5 minutes).
  • Add onions, carrots, leaks, celery, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, parsley, salt, and pepper to the stock pot. Add more cold water to cover all ingredients by about 1 inch.
    3 medium onions, peeled and halved
    3 medium carrots, washed, peeled, and roughly chopped into thirds
    3 leeks, washed and roughly chopped into thirds
    3 stalks of celery, washed and roughly chopped into thirds
    1 head of garlic, halved crosswise
    2 bay leaves, whole
    3 sprigs of fresh thyme, whole
    10 sprigs of fresh parsley (about ⅓ of the package), whole
    2 Tbsp kosher salt
    1 Tbsp whole black peppercorns
  • As the liquid begins to simmer again, continue to scrape off any scum using a spoon.
  • Reduce heat to between low and very low (if necessary, use the lowest setting on your stovetop) and slowly simmer for at least 8 hours (see notes, below).
  • As necessary and from time to time, use a spoon to scrape off any fat or scum that has accumulated at the surface.
  • Taste stock and check for proper seasoning. Continue simmering until convinced that you have extracted the most out of your ingredients.
  • Using a slotted spoon or strainer spoon (or any kitchen utensil with holes), remove all meat, bones, vegetables, and herbs from the stock.
  • Pour stock through a mesh wire strainer or sieve to remove small particles from the stock. Repeat as necessary, using kitchen paper towel to help blot up any remaining fat or scum from the stock.
  • Pour into 24-ounce or 32-ounce individual food storage containers and allow to cool. When cool, fit with airtight lids and refrigerate or freeze.

Notes

  1. A well-made beef stock should simmer for at least 8 hours to extract the most flavor out of your beef bones and vegetables. The simmering stock can be left relatively alone for much of those 8 hours, so don’t feel the need to stand over the stove for the whole time watching it.
  2. It may be tempting to add more than 5 quarts of water to stretch out the stock even more. However, in my experience, adding more than 5 quarts of water (to a stock with the proportions of ingredients above) results in a beef stock that is lighter in color and less rich in flavor.
  3. Never allow the liquid to boil. Fat and scum will incorporate themselves into the stock and will make it cloudy.
  4. Never cover the kettle airtight, unless its contents have cooled completely. Otherwise, the stock can sour.
  5. Cold stock should be gelatinous — this is a good thing! It will loosen when reheated.

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