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”.
- 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.
- 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.