Tuesday, October 11, 2011

How-To Tuesday! Beef Stock

There is just no way to tell you that making your own stock is easier than using the store bought stuff.  It just isn't. Making stock takes about 5 hours...BUT!  if you are going to be around the house anyway, it is worth the time, and it can save you money too.

To save money, every time you eat beef with a bone, keep it.  Put it in a freezer storage bag and into the freezer. I'm talking steak bones, short ribs, beef ribs, what ever.  We just happened to have some oxtail lounging around in our freezer so that is what we used.  (It's good, trust me!)

Few ingredients are involved in making a good stock, just a large pot and a lot of time.  In the end, though, you've got a great base for a great soup.  In our case French Onion Soup....YUM.

Beef Stock
olive oil
5-6 lbs of beef bones
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 large carrots, chopped
2 yellow onions, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
6 sprigs of thyme
2 bay leaves
6 quarts of water

To begin your stock you first need to roast your bones.  Preheat the oven to 425 F.  Put in your dutch oven so it preheats as well.  Once heated, carefully remove the dutch oven and add a few tablespoons of olive oil to it, then the bones.  Return the pan to the oven and allow the bones to roast for about 45 minutes.

While the bones are happily roasting, melt the butter in a large pan and saute  your onions, carrots, garlic and herbs over medium heat until softened.  Around 5-7 minutes.

Once the bones are done in the oven remove the pan and deglaze it with water over medium high heat.  A cup of water should do it.  Now pour the contents into a large stock pot and add about 6 quarts of water.  Bring the pot to a boil then turn down the heat and allow it to simmer for 4 hours.

Once the four hours are  up, strain the stock through a sieve to remove all the solid bits.  Viola!  Beef Stock! About 4 quarts.  Use it or freeze it for later.  We used it.....

Onion Soup, adapted from Thomas Keller, from the Bouchon cookbook
5 lbs yellow onions
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp all-purpose flour
4 quarts Beef Stock (see above)
freshly ground pepper
sherry wine vinegar
1 baguette
extra virgin olive oil
sliced Emmentaler cheese (or swiss)
1 cup grated Emmentaler cheese (or swiss)

Get ready for a few tears.  The hardest part about this recipe is chopping the onions.  Cut the tops and bottoms off and then slice them in half lengthwise.  Remove the tough outer peel.  Now slice each onion lengthwise in 1/4 inch slices.

Are you done?  OK then, let's move on.  Melt the butter in a large heavy pot or dutch oven over low heat.  Dump in the onions and sprinkle over a tablespoon of kosher salt and toss the onions around.   Cook them for about an hour on low heat stirring every 15 minutes or so.  Once they've "sweated" out the liquid, turn the heat up but only slightly.  Maybe a 2 or 3, you do not want to burn them. Now allow them to cook for 5 hours.  5 HOURS! yeah.  Believe me, these will be the best caramelized onions you have ever tasted.

To make the croutons that go in the soup preheat the broiler and slice the baguette into about 10- 1/2 inch slices. Lay them on a baking tray and brush both sides with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.  Broil them until nicely toasted.

Once the onions are golden brown and absolutely delicious, add the flour and saute them for another minute.  Now add them to the completed beef stock. Bring to a simmer and allow the soup to reduce by about a third, around 1 hour.  Taste the soup and add salt and pepper if needed and a teaspoon or two of the sherry vinegar.

Now place your oven-proof soup bowls on a baking sheet, preheat the broiler, and fill the bowls with the soup.  (This makes about 4 large bowls) Add enough croutons to cover the mouth of the bowl, just rest them on top of the soup.  Cover each bowl with the sliced cheese.  You want to leave about 1/2 inch overhang. Top with the grated cheese.

Put them in the broiler for about 2-3 minutes.  Watch them, and pull them out when they look nice and golden brown.

This soup is awesome.  6 hours may seem like a long time but most of it is just downtime.  If you are having a lazy Sunday, try it out.  It really is worth it!

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