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09/23/2019

~ A Simpler Straightforward No-Nonsense Beef Stock ~

IMG_4612The case for making homemade beef stock is easy to make.  Store-bought beef stock, with the exception of one or two brands, all too often has a medicinal smell and taste.  That said, store-bought stock does have a place in my pantry and plays a part in recipes that don't rely on it as one of the main components.  For those "special" recipes, homemade beef stock is always on-hand in my freezer to insure I'm never in danger of compromising my end result.  This time-saving recipe is my all-purpose recipe.  In 5 minutes it's simmering on the stovetop and results in a full-bodied moderately-seasoned clear stock with a lot less muss and fuss than other recipes.      

A bit about stock:  By definition, a stock is a moderately seasoned, strained, clear liquid resulting from the simmering of water, bones and/or vegetables.  Stock is the basis for almost all soups and stews, and, when reduced, is the basis for many sauces and gravies. In order of versatility, beef, chicken and veal are the classic stocks, with seafood and vegetable coming in a close second and third, and, in my kitchen Thai-Asian chicken stock comes in very hand too.  The same basic guidelines apply to the preparation of all stocks: minimal boiling, maximum simmering and moderate seasoning.  The single goal of each and every stock is the same:  clarity.

The single goal of each & every stock is the same:  clarity.

IMG_4604Historically, the first recorded stocks were exclusively by-products of poached meat, poultry, fish and/or vegetables, and, a stock made with a large proportion of meat in it will have magnificent flavor.  Debate over the inclusion of meat (on bones) instead of just raw bones or roasted bones (in the case of brown stocks) exists.  The challenge for the restaurant chef, who requires large quantities of stock, is to get maximum flavor with minimum expense, so, their stocks are made using primarliy bones, which is quite practical because they have a lot of bones at their disposal. The challenge for the home cook, who uses lesser quantities of stock, is also to achieve maximum flavor with minimum expense, BUT, is problematic because we don't always have large quantities of bones at our disposal or available to us when we want or have a need to make stock (and, it can take months for them to accumulate in the freezer).  I justify the expense of using bone-in cuts of meat to make some of my stocks, because I put the meat to good use.

IMG_45635-6  pounds beef shanks, preferably large, meaty ones

6  quarts water

3/4-1  pound peeled yellow or sweet onion

12-16  ounces peeled carrots, whole or thick-coined

6-8  ounces celery stalks, whole or thick sliced

1  ounce fresh parsley (Note:  I like to take one bunch of parsley and cut it in half, using the lower leafy stems, which contain loads of flavor, to make the stock, and reserve the delicate leafy tops for garnishing other recipes.)

4-5  large bay leaves

1  tablespoon garlic powder

2  tablespoons sea salt

1 tablespoons coarse-grind black pepper

IMG_4566 IMG_4566 IMG_4566 IMG_4566 IMG_4566 IMG_4586~Step 1.  Place all ingredients in a 12-quart stockpot.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce heat to a simmer, and, using a skimmer, remove all of the white and brown foam as it collects on top.  This process will take about 10 minutes. After removing the foam, remove the parsley.  It will be limp and losing its bright green color.  This herb has done its job*.  The result will be a stock that is lightly and pleasantly flavored with it.

*Note:  Fresh herbs all loose their "flavoring power" after about 10-12 minutes of simmering.

IMG_4588 IMG_4588 IMG_4588 IMG_4588~Step 2.  Reduce heat to simmer gently, uncovered, for 3 hours. Stock will be reduced by about one-quarter and meat will be falling off the shank bones. Remove from heat, cover and allow to steep for 3 hours.  Steeping is important to stock making.  It allows all of the flavors to develop.  

IMG_4602 IMG_4604 IMG_4604 IMG_4604~Step 4. Ladle stock through a mesh strainer, into desired-sized food storage containers, leaving about 1/2" of headspace at the top of each (to allow for expansion if you're freezing the stock). Repeat this process until all stock has been strained.  Using a slotted spoon, remove meat from pot, using your fingertips to pull and discard the fat and bones, placing the meat on a plate as you work.  Remove the carrots and celery, placing them on a plate as well.  Refrigerate stock overnight and/or freeze.  Use stock, beef and vegetables as directed in specific recipes.

Old-Fashioned Beef Stew with Carrots & Potatoes:

IMG_4543My Mother-in-Law's Philly Hamburger Pepper Pot:

6a0120a8551282970b01bb09265b77970dDecadent & Divine Silky Shiitake Mushroom Soup

6a0120a8551282970b01bb07ebb4be970d

French Onion Soup (Soup a l'mignon) a la Mel:

6a0120a8551282970b01a3fb36aa03970bA Simpler Straightforward No-Nonsense Beef Stock:  Recipe yields 4 quarts stock.

Special Equipment List:  cutting board; chef's knife; vegetable peeler; 12-quart stockpot; mesh strainer; soup ladle; fat/lean separator; slotted spoon; desired-sized food storage containers, preferably glass

6a0120a8551282970b01b7c91bccc0970bCook's Note: As unappetizing as the two words chicken carcass sound, culinarily, those are the words that describe what's left of a boned chicken (what's left after the meat has been removed from the bones), and, truth told, whether the carcass is raw or has been roasted, there is a ton of flavor in those bones. There's more. Discarding a chicken carcass without extracting the flavor is such a waste it makes me sad. Here's ~ How to Make Roasted Chicken Carcass Soup Stock ~.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2019)

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