Basic Beef Stock

Beef stock is another basic building block of every cook's pantry. Because beef tends to the full-bodied, I adjusted the mirepoix by decreasing carrots by half, thereby reducing the sweetness thereof. And to counter the "heavy" taste of beef, I added leek and increased the amount of celery, keeping it fresh and light. 

To help draw out the minerals in the bones, an acidic element is is required for flavour. That's why tomato paste is sometimes called for in some recipes. There's ascorbic acid in tomato paste. But I feel it makes the stock a little too "tomatoey" which distracts from the beefy flavour. I find that white vinegar is a little more neutral than tomato paste. There's ethanoic acid in vinegar which works just as well as ascorbic acid.

Another tip in making stock, is to ensure that the water is cold when you add it to the browned bones and mirepoix (step 9 below), before bringing it to a boil. Cold water helps the scum rise to the top.

Ingredients (makes 8 L stock):
2kg beef bones, cut into 3" long chunks (get the butcher to chop them up)
1 large yellow onion, diced roughly
3 shallots, sliced
4 cloves garlic, smashed whole
2 leeks, sliced
1 large carrot, sliced
3 stalks celery, sliced
3 bay leaves
1/2 cup white vinegar
8L water
2 tbsp olive oil for frying

1) Brown bones in olive oil  Do this in batches if necessary, to avoid overcrowding in a pan. Transfer to a stock pot and set aside.

2) Leaving behind 3 tbsp beef oil drippings, fry onions until translucent, about 2 minutes.

3) Add shallots and fry another 1 minute.

4) Add garlic, and fry till fragrant, about 2 minutes.

5) Add leek and fry another 2 minutes.

6) Add carrots and fry till softened, about 2 minutes.

7) Add celery and fry till just softened, about 1 minute.

8) Add the mirepoix to the beef bones in the stock pot.

9) Add cold water to the pot, vinegar and bay leaves, and bring to a boil before lowering to a simmer for at least 8 hours, or if possible, overnight for at least 20 hours. Check on the stock every half hour or so, to skim the grey-ish scum that floats to the top. Top up the water if necessary.

10) Strain before use. The resultant stock should colour a rich brown and possess an unmistakeable beef scent. For use up to a week later, store in fridge, in containers of varying volumes.  This way, you can just use the amount you need, without touching the rest of the stock.

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