Meat Stock

I like to have a couple of containers of meat stock in the freezer to add to soups and stews, or to cook beans or lentils.

It’s often the simplest stock of all.

  • In a large pot, gently sweat a chopped onion, a couple of fine diced carrots, and a couple of fine sliced sticks of celery in some of the fat skimmed from yesterday’s gravy.
  • When the vegetables are softened, chuck in the bones and a few cloves of garlic, cover with boiling/hot water. Add perhaps a bay leaf.
  • But don’t add salt, pepper, or any other herbs or spices – I want my stock to add “meatiness” to another dish, as an addition to whatever spices or herbs the final dish might use.
  • Bring back to the boil, then reduce the heat. Leave on a gentle simmer for a good hour or two. The longer, the better.
  • When the stock has “done its simmer” …
    • Remove the bones, and strip all the fine bits of meat and soft chewy bits; set aside.
    • Strain the stock through a sieve, and taste. Your call – if it is not as strong a flavour as you were hoping for, return the stock to the pot, and boil to reduce and concentrate the flavour.
    • Allow to cool, return the scavenged meat bits, pour into containers, and freeze for later use.

Yup – it’s the simplest. But it’s also … let’s just say, “mild”. Adds a welcome and useful meaty note to soups, beans, lentils, or stews. But … it IS “mild”.

With a little more time, effort, and foresight, it’s easy enough to prepare a much richer meat stock, one with considerably more “oomph”.

Ingredients

  • Meat bones – lots of. I can get beef, lamb, or sheep bones from my butcher. On occasion, I’ve bought a couple of kilos of beef short ribs, and separated them into two piles – meaty chunks for a casserole or stew, and bony chunks for the stock pot.
  • Meat scraps and trimmings – if I were really well organised, I’d have a container in the freezer to which I’d add as and when, ready for the next stock session. I am not often that organised, sadly.
  • Tomato puree.
  • A large onion.
  • A couple of large leeks.
  • Several sticks of celery.
  • 3-4 carrots.
  • A couple of sprigs of fresh thyme.
  • A bunch of parsley.
  • A bulb of garlic.

Method

  • Put the meat bones and scraps in a roasting tin, and smear generously with tomato puree. Roast in a hot oven (220°C, 425°F, Gas Mark 7) for about 45 minutes. You want them very well-roasted, very well-caramelised … in layman’s language, “burnt”.
  • After perhaps 30 minutes, put some dripping or oil in a large cooking pot, on a gentle heat.
    • Chop, and add the onion – let it sweat gently.
    • Slice, and add the leeks, “tough” green bits and all.
    • Slice, and add the celery, leaves and all.
    • Slice, and add the carrots.
    • Add the parsley, stalks and all, the thyme, and maybe a bayleaf or two.
    • Break the garlic into cloves, and add – without peeling.
    • And allow veg to sweat gently, for 5-10 minutes.
  • Take roasted bones/scraps from the oven, and add to the pot.
  • Put the roasting pan on a hot ring, and swill some hot water around to catch all the flavoursome burnt-and-sticky bits … add to the pot.
  • Cover veg and meat with water, and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to the lowest heat possible, and leave to cook gently. 4 hours? 5 hours? Overnight? For as long as you can!
  • When you’re done, remove the pot from the heat and allow to cool for a bit; strain through a sieve. Allow to cool completely, so that any excess fat floats to the top and congeals, for easy removal.
  • Again … no salt, pepper, spices, or herbs? Yup – there’s a reason for that! The stock is for “meatiness” in your end dish – you’ll add spices, seasoning, and/or herbs to suit the end dish.
  • Rich, dark, and very substantial. The stock will keep in the fridge for a couple of days, or for 2-3 months in the freezer.
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