beef stock

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My wife said that she wanted some onion soup this weekend so I said okay (as if I had a whole lot of choice), but I said it would have to be Tuesday night instead since I already had meat out of the freezer for beef stroganoff, plus there are still some enchiladas left for Monday night, and besides I do not have any beef stock left in the freezer - but I do have what I need to make some more.

So here is the start of our favourite onion soup - the beef stock.

Preparation Time:
Prep: 1 hour / Cook: 12 to 24 hours
Tools
  • cutting board & knife
  • large sheet pan
  • large stock pot & lid
  • slotted spoon
  • fine strainer and cheese cloth
  • ice chest
  • 14 lbs. ice
  • medium stock pot & lid
  • 1/2 c. rock salt

Ingredients

  • 10 lbs. beef bones (shanks, necks, tails, & knees)
  • 2 sweet potatoes, quartered
  • 2 large onions, halved
  • 4 carrots, snapped in 3 pieces
  • 2 T. peanut oil
  • 1 T. kosher salt
  • 2 celery ribs, snapped in 3 pieces
  • 8 garlic cloves, bruised
  • 1/2 lb. mushroom stems
  • 2 new mexico chiles, dried, seeds removed
  • 4 bay leaves, whole
  • 2 t. black peppercorns, cracked
  • 10 qt. cold water
  • additional hot water
Cooking Instructions
  • Place a rack in the top third of your oven and turn the broiler on to high.
  • Place as much of the beef bones, sweet potatoes, onions, and carrots as you can fit in one layer onto a baking sheet.
  • Lightly oil the bones and vegetables and sprinkle with a little bit of kosher salt.
  • Place the baking sheet into the oven and check every 5 minutes. You want the bones and vegetables to brown but not burn.
  • When browned, flip everything over and brown the other side.
  • Dump all the browned items into the stock pot and repeat until all of the items are browned.
  • Put the celery, garlic, mushroom stems, chiles, bay leaves, and peppercorns into the pot.
  • Poor all of the cold water into the pot. Put on the lid and set the heat to high.
  • When it starts to boil, turn it down to a bare simmer. Place the lid mostly on the pot to retain heat and reduce steam loss.
  • Check every 15 minutes for the first two hours and skim off any foam/scum on the surface.
  • Add additional hot water every 6 to 8 hours to keep everything submerged.
  • You will have a decent stock after 12 hours and a really good stock after 24.
  • Remove and squeeze out all of the large vegetable pieces.
  • Remove and throw out all of the large bones you can find.
  • Strain the stock through a fine strainer and a couple layers of cheesecloth into the medium stock pot. You want to have an almost clear, medium to dark amber, liquid when you are done.
  • Place 1/2 of the ice into the ice chest. Place the stock pot onto the ice.
  • Dump the rest of the ice around the stock pot and pour the rock salt over the ice.
  • Stir the stock every 15 minutes with a clean spoon.
  • Drain off excess water from the ice chest as needed.
  • When the temperature stops dropping rapidly, start packing up the stock for the refridgerator.
  • You can transfer it to the freezer after scraping off the congealed fat from the surface in about 30 minutes.
Notes
This recipe makes a large quantity of hot stock. Do not put it directly into your refridgerator or freezer or you will ruin your food and grow unhealthy critters in your stock.

If you use the quantities in this recipe, definitely use the Alton Brown ice chest method to cool the stock down to as close to 40F as you can quickly get it before transfering the stock into the refridgerator. (I add the rock salt to the ice since that tends to shave an extra 10 to 15 minutes off of my total cooling time.)

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I find the trickling cold

I find the trickling cold water trick works as well as the ice chest version, at least in the winter when the cold water comes out of the tap really cold. I fill the sink with cold water so that it is near the level of the stock in the pot. I set the drain to a slow leak and put the pot over the drain. Then I set the faucet so it trickles cold water in as far from the drain as possible.

I'll have to set up an experiment sometime to see which works best,

There is no doubt that the rock salt and ice will get it to a colder temperature, but I think the trickling water gets it down to a working temperature faster.

Of course we could always drop chunks of dry ice into the stock and let it off-gas the CO2.

But this way I end up with a

But this way I end up with a bunch of salted ice that I get to transfer to my ice creame maker. I have to keep that left arm strength up so I can play the bagpipes. As exercises go, I much prefer spending 30 minutes on the floor cranking the White Mountain freezer than an equal amount of time moving weights around.