Friday, August 27th, 2010

How To Make Beef Stock

PANSY PEPPERCORNSIt's come to my attention that you've not been taught to make beef stock. I suppose if someone hadn't been so busy finding innovative ways to tag blog posts with "doody" and googling images of women in sports bras, you'd not have this egregious hole in your education, but alas. No website can be perfect-although, now it is.

If you want to know how to make traditional, French Culinary Institute-style beef stock here are a few recipes to check out. But honestly? None of you are really gonna make FCI-style beef stock, are you? Me neither. Which is swell for all of us because I've got a totally-unorthodox-but-great-for-people-who-have-lives method to share! (I mean you have lives. This is the highlight of my week. Regarding making traditional beef stock: I'm just lazy.)

To start, you'll need some bones. Bones! The bones can come from anywhere, really. OH MY GOD NO! THEY CANNOT COME FROM YOUR NEIGHBOR'S DOG, NO! Cow bones! We're talking about cattle bones here. So, let's say that you maybe made a fucking steak for yourself after a particularly hard Tuesday at the race track? (When are we going to talk about your gambling problem? The kids don't have shoes.) Save the t-bone and make stock of it!

But also if you ever go for a nice steak dinner I don't think there's any shame in asking for the bones to go. Look, you don't know that waiter, don't even worry about what he thinks of you for it. He's already judged you for your wine order, let's be honest here. After a birthday dinner at Peter Luger's once, I asked the waiter to doggy bag the bones for me. While wearing a fanciful paper crown on my head. Have no shame.

If your bones are on the small side you can stash them in the freezer until you've built up enough of a reserve-maybe 2 or 3 small bones?-to actually get some flavor out of the deal. Or heck, just make a teeny tiny batch! You can probably get 4ish cups of stock out of a weenie t-bone. (I want you to know it is taking all my strength not to make an erection joke here.)

Okay! We've got bones! Let's put them in a large-ish pot. One that has room for 12-ish cups of water. (Yes, ish: just breathe into it.) Along with the bones, you'll want to add a few aromatics, which is a fusty, cooking-person term for things that smell. Seriously, cooking people? Are so totally full of it. And the ones who aren't wear Hawaiian shirts, so basically you shouldn't listen to any of them at all.

Aromatics, in this case, refer first to vegetables. One of the cool things about stock-making is that it's sort of like the compost pile of the cooking world: You can basically throw in whatever veggies you have lying around the house, even the ends of things that you would normally toss in the garbage. Well wait, not "whatever"-I mean, let's not be using broccoli to make our stock. I mean the flavorful root-type items: Carrots, celery, onion. You know, rootie things. Oh and old garlic! I almost always have a sprouting halfbulb of garlic lounging indolently in my crisper drawer, and nothing makes me happier than making that little fucker work for it during the last hours of his life. There'll be no tranquil trashheap for you!

Now then, if you don't have any of this stuff in the house don't fret. I don't want you fretting!

While you're concentrating on not fretting and breathing into your ish-es, scamper out to the closest market and grab one big onion. You have my permission to skip the carrot and celery, as long as you promise to use an onion. And the sprouting garlic, but you're going to do that anyway because now you're imagining hurling your own set of insults at it. Quarter the onion and put it in the pot. Drop in a few whole-peeled, please!-garlic cloves. I dunno, three? Five? If you're using carrots and celery (one, two, three-ish each?) give them a rough chop and toss them in. They should be fairly large sized pieces since you're gonna boil the tar out of them and you're not looking to make carrot and celery soup. 1-3 inches should do it. (Heh.)

There's one last (solid) thing that needs to go into the pot: peppercorns. Whole peppercorns. Of any variety, but may I ask that you lie to me and tell me you've used what's popularly known as a "peppermill blend"? Because peppermill blends have pink & green peppercorns, and pink & green peppercorns thrill my little soul.

Over this whole mess, and my God will it ever look like a mess, you're going to pour your water. Somewhere between 8 and 12 cups will be good. Turn the burner on high and bring the whole rank collection of castoff foodstuffs to a boil. This will take quite a while! Like, a half hour-ish (mm hmm). Once it's boiled, reduce the heat to low, let the boil reduce for a minute or two and then cover the pot. Set your kitchen timer or cell phone alarm or ask the crow who sits on your sundial to caw at you in one hour.

When the hour is up, assess your day: Do you have another half hour to lie about your house reading the Internet? Super! Leave it on the heat for 30 more minutes. Do you have important drinking to do? WELL WHY HAVEN'T YOU INVITED ME? Turn off the heat and go on about your day. But not for too long, okay, because after two or so hours you'll want to get that pot into the refrigerator.

And this is where my trick comes in: The actual cook time on this stock is 2 hours, max. And since the prep time is virtually nil, you can toss this together and let it go about it's business during Sunday coffee-in-bed-while-moaning time and still be gussied and out of the house for brunch. The important thing is to put the entire thing-the bones and those pretentious aromatics and the sloth-like garlic and my beloved preppy peppercorns-in the fridge overnight.

Basically you're steeping the stock and I swear if you ever tell anyone with an ounce of cooking cred I told you to do this I will hunt you down and filet you with my pink chef's knife.

When you're ready to transfer your stock (your homemade stock! Take a moment to beam with pride!) to smaller containers for freezing, pull out the pot and prepare yourself for some major fun, because now is the time on Sprockets when we skim! You're gonna be psyched about this part because it provides almost the same thrill as picking at a scab without any of the pick-your-nose-and-eat-it connotations. Skimming refers to the removal of the layer of congealed fat, which you should immediately hurl it into the rubbish bin, because, eww. A slotted metal spoon works best for this, but beef fat is hardy enough that you'll be able to lift it using the side of a knife if that's all you've got. Pro tip: The top layer of fat will crack into large glaciers if you sort of tap on it.

Underneath that fat you're going to find the saddest looking collection of bones and cloves and stalks. You need to strain that stuff out. I like to place a splatter guard over the top of the pot and pour the liquid out into a large bowl, but you can use a traditional colander placed over a bowl.

Whatever works for you, my friend. I mean, who am I to question a person who makes their own stock?!

And welcome to our secret special club.

Jolie Kerr would love to provide you with content while paying you for it.

60 Comments / Post A Comment

David Cho (#3)


I thought this meant something more Korean and I was like, that's sort of a racist joke targeted towards me, but realized that it was just a normal joke and use of caps. Oops.

jolie (#16)

Ha! Did you think it said "OH MY GOD CHO"??? (And isn't that just like a millennial, thinking eeeeeverything is about them.)

boyofdestiny (#1,243)

Seems like a good enough recipe, although only two instances of "fuck." That's low for a Half Baked.

For single persons: fill an ice tray with some of the stock. You will then have small portions for individual meals.

HiredGoons (#603)

add tears to salt for flavor?

ejcsanfran (#489)

Isn't "fanciful paper crown" redundant?

ejcsanfran (#489)

For single persons: feed any leftovers to cats… Our many, many cats…

Some of us are happily single and child free by choice.

garge (#736)

Obviously this Jolie Kerr person is going to record the audiobook edition of the cookbook, right? Because that lady has an innate tempo.

jolie (#16)

Since my friends told me I sound like Julia Allison with a lisp I think I'll pass on the offer of having my voice immortalized in audiobook form.

Related: I'm in the market for new friends.

Tuna Surprise (#573)

If you're in the market for new friends let's meet back here at 9 after everyone has had a chance to drink a bottle of wine. I need some girlfriends to chat over the following problem: I met a guy – he's cute, funny, etc., etc., but he's a vegetarian. I feel sooo conflicted over this. I never comtemplated I would like a dude that didn't like meat.

cherrispryte (#444)

Can I come too? Also, if we had an Awl girls' sleepover, it would possibly be the best thing ever.

garge (#736)

Tuna, do you know why he is a vegetarian? Some vegetarians have just done it for so long, that it is the longest they've done anything, and are waiting until they can be certain about something–anything!–in their lives. Something concrete, like a closet full of Chanel, that s/he can gaze upon and think, I know who I am. Those kinds of vegetarians already know how to cook a fucking steak, and even how to make beef stock from scratch, and are just waiting for their moment (i.e., totally dateable).

Maybe we can lease the apartoffice on weekends for the stitch-n-balk group, and do lock-ins?

Anyway, I'll see you ladies after 9; I have a nice vihno verde chilling.

Tuna I dated a vegetarian and when we broke up the first thing I did was make and eat a big t-bone steak.

C_Webb (#855)

Tuna, how adamant/vocal is he about the fact that YOU eat it? If it's just his nutrition choice, then roll with it and hope that smelling enough bacon will eventually break him. On the other hand, if he's leaving PETA flyers around the house and critiquing every delicious meaty mouthful you eat … put on your leatheriest boots and kick him to the curb.

Tuna Surprise (#573)

@garge: clearly something traumatic happened in his past. It probably involves a raw pork tenderloin, a bottle of stale pepper flakes, and a turkey bad.

@Kitten: I did that after a long vacation to India. A big steak and bottle of red wine.

cherrispryte (#444)

Okay, so as other people mentioned, his motivations for not eating meat and how zealous he is about it are clearly important. But also – do you require manliness from your men? If so, is he suitably butch in other ways?

Tuna Surprise (#573)

@cherri: I think this is why I need more girlfriends. The problem is that he is super-nice (too nice?) plus a vegetarian. Makes me question his manliness.

Why can't he be an asshole? I know those guys. I can handle them. This guy is a mystery, wrapped in an enigma, wrapped in a nice suit.

cherrispryte (#444)

Asshole guys are easier to deal with because you know what you're getting. But that is depressing in and of itself (see: all of my relationships.)
I guess figure out if he could be worth investing the time and energy to dig through his layers? It's always something of a gamble.

HiredGoons (#603)

I was under the impression that Julia Allison sounded like Julia Allison with a lisp…

jolie (#16)

I think "Awl Girls Sleepover" should be the name of the new Ladies Issues vertical. Do you think we can convince them to make the Stitch'n'Balk (alkfhslkfhslk) a real thing??? WE CAN MAKE WEE CROCHETED AWLS AND SELL THEM FOR PROFIT!

@C_Webb: Well, bacon IS the gateway meat.

garge (#736)

@jolie: My nimble little fingers are just waiting to become awl essential workers! And when the time comes to unionize, I already know all of the words to the Newsies soundtrack.

cherrispryte (#444)

@garge: Sweet. I'll start on the choreography and sourcing turn of the century costumes.

HiredGoons (#603)

One traditionally drinks red wine with beef, which brings up the touchy subject of pairing and how one consumes chardonny avec ice while preparing?

Quite a Pandora's Box(ed wine) for a Friday afternoon!

Add some cassis and have a kir.

HiredGoons (#603)

*call me

C_Webb (#855)

Bravo! May I add that if you ever find yourself with a hangover so bad that you're showing signs of anemia AND scurvy, you might consider shaking up your Bloody Mary with beef stock ice cubes. (Which you should then remove and serve with regular ice cubes because, like the lady said, eww.)

C_Webb (#855)

P.S. I'm kidding about the breaking (although from what former veggies tell me, it IS often the bacon). I just mean that, if he respects your choices, you can respect his, and probably find some sort of happy homecooking medium.

C_Webb (#855)

This was to Tuna. Blerg.

karion (#11)

This is my kind of poetry.

Neopythia (#353)

I always feel inspired after reading these, then I arrive home exhausted after a day of reading the internet, order take-out and drift away in alcoholic haze.

Sylvia (#7,141)

Mmm, tasty and detailed. Could a beef stock post get any better than this? I doubt it very much. Will my husband be happy tonight? Without a doubt, yes!

cherrispryte (#444)

Anyone else suspicious of this?

Whyever should we be suspicious of a brand-new commenting account that links "beef stock" to a British "party directory"? Is it intended as a social commentary on British physiques?

Also, belatedly to Tuna, speaking as (a male) someone who recently married a vegetarian, it's not so bad. Life is too short–and too long–to rule out people based purely on dietary choices.

Re: the bones. If you find yourself in need of soup bones and haven't had a fancy steak dinner lately, just go to the supermarket and and ask the butcher. They should usually have them in the back leftover from cutting up the meat they sell. They may not even charge you for them (although I'm not sure about that – it's been a while since I've needed any).

Wait, I missed the part where you add the canned beef stock?

deepomega (#1,720)

That's what you're supposed to do with old garlic? I feel like a rube.

(PS: I don't think I mentioned that I made Lemon Squares for the LA Awl Bawl and they came out TASTY. I ate like half of a 9×13 all by my self)

cherrispryte (#444)

Ooooh, well done you!

wb (#2,214)

Fuck. Another reason to be bummed I missed it.

I am so excited to fool everyone into thinking that I know what I am doing!

Annie K. (#3,563)

A related issue: Julia (you know which one)has a recipe for chicken stock that's much like Jolie's here, aromatics, chicken bones, water, but no peppercorns. And if after you've done all that refrigerator and colander business, you quickly cook some carrots and spring onions and fresh peas in that stock, you'll have made a gentle, tender chicken soup that induces the sweetest sleep.

roboloki (#1,724)

i once witnessed that julia anal fisting a turkey carcass. that's when i hit close tab.

wb (#2,214)

I make chicken stock, with bones from whole birds I buy every week. Put it on at night, just before going to bed, on the lowest flame your stove can manage, and wake up to a perfectly clear, rich stock.

My aromatics approach wholly mirrors Jolie's: whatever is lying around and starting to not look so hot gets thrown in. One great discovery I've made from this near-garbage aromatics approach? Corn cobs. They make stock taste amazing.

theGoldenAss (#4,853)

You can also make it from the bones from roast chicken. It's basically making food with trash, and I find it even better than with fresh chicken bones.

Sean Peters (#6,014)

Me too. In fact, I make it out of the carcass of a chicken roasted whole ON THE GRILL. Which is so delicious I'm getting a little turned on just thinking about it.

wb (#2,214)

The bones must always be roasted!

HiredGoons (#603)

The thought of leaving my stove on overnight fills me with terror.

egad (#1,355)

I am so happy that The Awl is now complete. Thanks Jolie. With the addition of the cooking channel to my subscription I'll never need to go to another site.

Also, the semi-anonymity of the internets mean I can now share cooking tips and still be a 20-something man who goes to gigs and drinks beer.

egad (#1,355)

And yes, my freezer always contains single person sized portions of home-made stock and tomato sauce. With either of those, and damn scrap in the refrigerator is a meal and faster than take away.

egad (#1,355)

ugh… *any* damn scrap…

I thought the specific reason to go to the track was because baby needs a new pair of shoes.

Also, nice murder soup, hope you enjoy your steaming bowl of murder, etc.

cherrispryte (#444)

Delicious, delicious murder.

Clare (#516)

What about salt?

You salt the food in which you use the broth.

Pandemic Endemic (#3,825)

Add some lemon juice, whiskey and club soda and hoooo doggy!

wallsdonotfall (#6,378)

Add some old Parmesan rinds (you know, the hard edges that are left after you grate the rest of the wedge) and you are fucking golden, my friends.

The Franks advise making an actual cheese stock like this using old rinds. (Of any cheese, really.)

melis (#1,854)

And how does that translate to the green can?

Sean Peters (#6,014)

Any a you people don't put a bay leaf and some thyme in there, I'm personally coming over there to kick your ass.

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