As you already know, I prefer to make my own stocks. There is such an enormous difference in the taste of a homemade stock compared to the salty water sold in stores.
After making some chicken stock recently, I decided to make some beef stock as well since we're in the heart of winter and soup season. I stopped by the Super Oriental Market and picked up about 5 lbs of meaty beef bones for stock. These are actually really hard to find here in Birmingham; I have been to several butcher shops and searched several stores to no avail. Luckily, these bones freeze very well.
The marrow is what gives beef stock its flavor.
Much better than storebought....
With beef stock, roasting the bones beforehand yields a richer, meatier flavor. I also prefer to roast my vegetables as well. And, as with any stock, low and slow is the way to go; do NOT allow your stock to boil, or else it will become cloudy and scummy.
5 lbs beef marrow bones
2 onions, cut into wedges
3 stalks celery, cut into chunks
3 carrots, cut into chunks
2 tsp tomato paste
10 black peppercorns
2 bay leaves
If the bones are frozen, let them thaw first. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and place the bones in a roasting pan or baking dish.
Roast the bones for 45 minutes. In the meantime, prep your vegetables.
After roasting the bones for 45 minutes, add the onion, celery and carrot to the roasting dish and drizzle with a small amount of oil. Roast for 45 minutes.
This is after the first 45 minutes of roasting; I forgot to take a picture of the pan after the vegetables were cooked. Picture this same photograph but with browned veggies.
At this point, the bones should be nicely browned. Transfer the bones and the vegetables to a large stockpot. Add 4 quarts of water. Stir in the tomato paste, peppercorns and bay leaves.
Deglaze the roasting pan with another quart of water, scraping up any browned bits, and add to the stockpot.
Bring the stock to a simmer over medium heat, then reduce the heat to low to maintain just a bare simmer. At this point, the stock will need to simmer for 8-12 hours to extract all of its flavor from the roasted bones.
Skim off any scum or fat occasionally; only stir the stock GENTLY every few hours. I let my stock simmer for about 10 hours, and only stirred it three times.
Strain all of the solids from the stock through a fine mesh sieve into a large bowl or clean stockpot. Let the stock cool to room temperature, then chill completely in the refrigerator (do NOT place the stock in the refrigerator while still hot). Once the stock is cold, the fat on top will have solidified and can be easily skimmed off.
Beef stock, strained.
Beef stock, chilled.
Once the stock has been chilled and the fat removed, it can be transferred into smaller containers to be chilled or frozen. My yield was 4 pints and 1 quart.
This stock can be refrigerated for about a week or so, or frozen for months. If freezing in glass, be sure to leave extra headspace to keep the containers from breaking (I prefer to only use plastic when freezing).