To make the richest beef stock, don't rely on the slender bones left over from last night's ribs. Instead, pick up marrow bones from your butcher. These large, tubular-shaped bones are filled with the tender, flavorful tissue known as marrow. Roasting marrow bones before you make your stock gives it a greater depth of flavor, an extra step that pays off in heartier stews and gravies.
Things You'll Need
Tongs or spatula
Vegetable peeler and chef's knife
Vegetables (e.g., carrots, onions, celery)
Aromatics (e.g., bay leaves, peppercorns, fresh parsley, thyme)
Slotted spoon or fat skimmer
Plastic containers and lids
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit and set the bones in the roasting pan.
Roast the marrow bones for about 30 minutes, or until they begin to turn brown. During this period, turn the bones once or twice.
Peel and chop the vegetables into chunks. The proportions are up to you, but in total, you want a few handfuls' worth of veggies to toss into the pan.
Add the vegetables to the roasting pan. Leave the vegetables to roast with the bones for another 30 minutes or so, or until they begin to turn brown. Stir the contents of the pan occasionally during this second roasting period.
Remove the contents of the roasting pan from the oven and transfer them to the stockpot. Pour several quarts of water into the stockpot -- enough to cover the bones and vegetables.
Add the aromatics to the stockpot. About 1 cup of fresh herbs is enough to flavor the stock, along with a spoonful of peppercorns and 2 dried bay leaves.
Turn the burner to medium-high until the stock boils; then reduce the heat to medium-low. Once the stock settles to a simmer, leave it for at least 4 hours, stirring occasionally. During this time, bits of fat and marrow will rise to the surface, which you can skim off.
Set your colander over a large bowl and carefully pour the hot stock into the bowl. Remove any fat that gets through the strainer before putting the stock into freezer containers. Alternatively, chill the stock, if you plan to use it for a recipe in the next day or two. Peel and spoon the fat off the stock's surface before adding the liquid to the dish you're making.
To fill two or three 1-quart freezer containers, pick up about 5 pounds of marrow bones at the butcher's. This amount is about right for a single layer in a roasting pan.
Use caution when making this stock. The spattering fat during the roasting process can be harazardous, so make sure to use a potholders and long-handled utensils to turn the bones and vegetables.
Secure your colander and bowl in a sink or with a coiled dish towel when you're straining the hot stock.