What Is Beef Stock?

Angie Bates

Similar to broth, beef stock is a beef flavored liquid used in many dishes, most often stews and soups. Beef stock is normally stronger and more richly flavored than its counterpart, broth, and though it can be found commercially, is more often homemade. Using beef bones and scraps, as well as vegetables and other seasonings, beef stock is created through a long baking and boiling process.

Seasoning, like peppercorns, is often added to make beef stock.
Seasoning, like peppercorns, is often added to make beef stock.

Beef bones are nearly always used in beef stock. Trimmings resulting from other beef dishes or beef stew pieces bought commercially can also be used. They can be fresh or frozen. In fact, some cooks save their trimmings over time, and only make stock once they obtain enough trimming from their natural daily cooking routine. Beef fat should not be retained whenever possible, however.

Stews can be made with beef stock.
Stews can be made with beef stock.

In addition to beef parts, carrots, celery, onions, and often tomatoes, are used in beef stock. Parsnips or potatoes may also be used, and garlic is a frequent addition. The vegetables can be fresh and crisp, or they can be slightly overripe or parts that would not normally be eaten, such as the ends of a bunch of celery stalks. They should not be rotted or considerably overripe, however.

Spices are also essential to beef stock. Fresh spices or herbs may be bundled together in a cheesecloth bag, but more often they are left free in the liquid. Peppercorns, thyme, and salt are common spices. Parsley sprigs and bay leaves are also often used.

To make beef stock, the bones and meat trimmings are first placed in a broiler pan and baked. The vegetables are often baked with the meat and bones, but can be simmered and caramelized instead. The baking process usually lasts about an hour, and the beef, and vegetables if included, should be nicely browned.

The contents of the broiling pan are then placed in a stock pot. If the vegetables are caramelized rather than browned, they are usually caramelized in the stock pot. Afterward, the broiler pan is deglazed using water or wine. Deglazing involves heating the pan and removing the stuck on bits with a liquid, and liquid and bits are then poured into the pot. Any excess fat should be removed before the deglazing process begins.

Afterward, any additional seasoning are added and the beef stock is simmered between five and eight hours. Any foam or fat that rises to the surface should be skimmed off as the stock simmers. Then, it can be strained through a fine sieve or cheesecloth, and used immediately, refrigerated, or frozen.

Celery is a fundamental ingredient of the vegetable base in beef stock.
Celery is a fundamental ingredient of the vegetable base in beef stock.

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