Friday, 13 March 2009

The joys of homemade stock – beef stock recipe

I take back any reservations I had about my chicken stock, particularly the part about reducing it too much.

I used it last weekend to make risotto and it was the best risotto I’ve ever made (thanks to the stock!). My stock has never tasted that good before, I think perhaps I’ve not reduced it enough in the past.

‘It tastes like it has bits of real meat in it’, was the surprised comment that I received. We both agreed that the intensity of the flavour of the chicken meant that we could have quite happily eaten just the risotto without any other ingredients, in this instance: roasted peppers and feta, and sun-dried tomatoes. Inspired by the success of the chicken stock, I decided to try making beef stock. I’ve not attempted this before because we rarely have a joint of beef, let-alone one with bones in!

While I was in the butchers yesterday I plucked up the courage and asked the lady serving me if they had any beef bones for stock. I still can’t quite get used to the idea that what you see on display in a butchers is often just the tip of the iceberg. To me it seems rude to ask for something that means them having to go ‘through to the back’ to get it. But I think this is just my hyper-sensitive mindset – they seem quite used to it.

My confidence crumbled slightly when the lady who had originally served me said, ‘He’s just gone to look. We do sell our own stock you know’.

Where was that big hole in the ground when I needed it?

I managed to reply “Ooohh, I’ll remember that for the future. I like to make my own though, thanks”, with a big smile on my face.

I was very glad I had asked, because not only did the butcher return with a big bag of bones – but they were free!

Beef Stock Recipe:

  • Beef bones (I had about 1.3 kg)
  • 3 small carrots (bendy)
  • 2 parsnips (bendy)
  • 1 stick of celery (although I’ve just found it on the counter so I must have forgotten to put it in!)
  • the top of a leek from the other day
  • 2 onions
  • 10 peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 250 ml of red wine
  • a pinch of salt
  • a pinch of dried thyme or a sprig of fresh thyme
  • water

P3130055 Preheat the oven to 200 degrees (Celsius).

Cut the veg into 2cm chunks and the onions in half (or quarters if large). (I used vegetable I had lying around, I don’t think the quantities really matter hugely as long as there are at least carrots and onions in there somewhere.)

Put the meat, veg and peppercorns in the a roasting tin.

Pop this in the oven for 30 mins. P3130057

When the veg and the meat have started to go crispy around the edges, remove the tray from the oven.

Put the meat and veg in a large pot. Add the salt and thyme. 

Add the wine to the baking tray, and whilst it is still warm use the liquid to release any bits that have stuck to the bottom or sides. Then pour the liquid and bits into the pan. 

P3130062 P3130071

Bring to the boil, remove and scum that may have developed (I found that very little had formed), reduce the temperature so that it barely simmers and cover the pot. My largest pot is without a lid at the moment, it must have been packed away in the move by mistake, so I just covered mine with a double layer of tin foil.

(Be prepared for the whole house to take on the aroma of akin to a rich gravy for most of the day!)

After about 7 hours (I got a bit carried-away with writing!), strain the liquid and then boil for about 20 mins. This allows it to reduce and therefore intensifies the flavour. Also, it goes a really nice caramel colour.P3140087

Allow it to cool completely. Remove the solidified fat from the top and discard it. Put the stock into containers and store in the fridge or freezer.

This made just under a 1 3/4 pints (about 800ml) of stock.


  1. I love the reward of making stock - but it sure seems an aweful lot of effort at first. I cannot think of a better dish to showcase the results than a good risotto. I look forward to trying your stock recipe.

  2. Homemade stock is very special and I know it makes such a difference for cooking fabulous dishes.

  3. This made me laugh bc I never ask for anything at the butcher either.

  4. I know! I'm sure why I've never done it before, but I hadn't!


I'd love to know any comments you might have.