Last week, I finished my last week at my job in a French restaurant. It was an incredibly humbling and inspiring experience, and one that I won’t soon forget. I feel like honoring that experience today.
Working in places that are using such classic recipes and cuisine really hammered home how important it is to know basic recipes, inside and outside the professional kitchen. One of my favorite things to make is stock, that classic heavily–flavored liquid that can be used for anthing from soup making to risotto, and is necessary to have on hand to quickly loosen up a sauce or make rice on the fly. It really is impossible to name all the uses for stock, which is why its so important to have a good stock on hand in your home at all times. Otherwise you’d be cooking your food with water, and there’s usually a better option for that.
This recipe can be used for any type of bones, just know that cooking times will change. For fish and poultry, you can use less time. For beef, add another hour or two on there. Also, you could totally mix bones, like poultry, together. It will create a more interesting flavor. Just remember, mix bones that belong to animals with the same number of legs (i.e. duck and chicken, or lamb with some beef bones).
For my veggies: You can totally make a veg stock, just cut your simmer time down to one hour. Use any combination of veggies you desire! The best are the mirepoix veg (see below), also mushrooms, tomatoes, and herbs. I wouldn’t go straight for any veggies that have a fart-y smell when simmered, like radishes.
The first thing you’re gonna need is a stock pot, a large one. Mine is about 30 quarts. Trust me, if you like to cook at home, it’s worth the investment.
Then, its time to put some color on your bones. For purposes of these photos, I used lamb bones and trim, but you can use just about any bones to make a flavorful stock. You can get bones at any butcher shop, or even a larger grocery store with a meat counter. Just ask if they have any left over bones that you could buy at a fair price. Bones should be pretty cheap.
Roast your bones in an oven at about 450 until the color is nice and golden, or ice and crispy. You can sear the bones in the pot itself, which adds more flavor to the bottom of the pot, but can take more time as you have to do it in batches. I prefer to just put the bones on a sheet tray and roast them, scraping as many brown bits as I can into the pot from the bottom of the sheet tray.
While the bones are roasting, prepare the aromatics: Mirepoix, which is a mix of carrot, celery, and onion. In this mix, you want to use about 2 times the amount of onion as you do carrot and celery. Add some more flavoring ingredients: Garlic, thyme, parsley, bay, mushrooms. I even used a knob of ginger in this stock, since I found it in my fridge and wanted to use it to add a little more flavor.
Speaking of flavor– I used an onion brulee in this stock. This is a classic French technique of halving an onion crosswise and burning both halves, and adding this to stock for color and flavor. Very easy and adds so much intensity (in a good way). Just burn the heck out of both sides, there really is no way to mess this up.
Since this is a brown stock (using roasted bones), sweating down the mirepoix with some tomato paste only adds another layer of flavor and color. Add the herbs and garlic when the sweating is complete. I also added a bit of port that I had on hand, but you could add white or red wine that maybe has been sitting in the fridge, starting to go too bad to drink but definitely good to cook with, and uses up any leftovers hanging out around the house! Two for one.
Finally, add the bones, and cover with water until the bones are covered about 1 inch. Over time, the stock will cook down and expose the bones. For a deep, rich stock, I like to simmer my stock for at least 7 hours.
Strain through a cheesecloth and store, or use for another recipe. I like to put some in quarts and freeze, and keep some in my fridge to keep on hand at all times.
Approx. 5 lbs of bones, roasted
1/2 lb mirepoix (1/4 lb onion, 1/8 lb each carrot and celery)
1/2 lb mushroom
1 tbs. tomato paste
1 onion brulee
1 head garlic, cut in half, 1/3 bunch each thyme and parsley, 3 bay leaves.
8 quarts water