Preparing A Simple Meat Stock

Close up shop of a pot of rich meat stock with a ladle.
Copyright: movingmoment

The meat stock or fonds de cuisine simple is a broth which is made from a variety of bones and other meat scraps. Some cuts are not used such as lamb or ham because they are too rich. The best are usually from cattle, poultry and pig. A stock is ideal for braising a wide range of meats and vegetables and for producing meat sauces such as gravy. Soups also benefit from its employment and is sometimes used instead of wine to deglazing the roasting tin after it has been used.

The simplest stock will come from the boiling of just the meat bones but a better type will also include some added meat. Julia Childs used to have half and half which produced a good rich meat stock that went onto so many other dishes. You can of course buy stocks which are ready made. They have real convenience because they are often dried and then reconstituted in water. There is no shame in it!

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Equipment:

For 3 or 4 pints;

Ingredients:

  • Take as many pieces of meat and bone which are chopped into 2 inch or 3 inch pieces. Select beef and veal bones along with poultry carcasses, any scraps and giblets. A chicken stock would just have chicken and the same when it came to beef. If you have about 5 pints – that’s brilliant.
  • 2 medium-sized carrots
  • 2 peeled onions
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 6 parsley sprigs
  • 2-3 unpeeled garlic cloves
  • a couple of leeks if available
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tsp. salt

Preparation:

The meat and bones are placed in a large saucepan with cold water added,  to cover the bones by 2 inches. 

Heat enough to see the water shimmering. As the stock starts to simmer just before a true boil, scum which is fat and other material will rise to the surface. Remove with a spoon or ladle and do this as the scum keeps forming. It will take bout 5 minutes but finish when no more scum is forming.

Add the remaining ingredients including all the vegetables, herbs and salt. Just add water to cover and by a full inch.

Let the stock simmer sway and just skim when necessary.

Partially cover the pan so that steam can escape through the gap. The liquid needs to simmer gently with the odd bubble. Ideally a good simmering will take at least 4 or 5 hours and even more. Just check for scum and remove accordingly.

Add boiling water from a kettle if needs be as it will evaporate off. Do not let the stock boil though at any time because any fat and scum just gets incorporated into the body of the stock and it is then very cloudy. The intention is to produce a good clear stock.

Taste to check the flavour. 

When it feels ready after that long time, just strain through a large sieve into a large bowl.

Degreasing the saucepan:

Finish boiling and let the stock settle for 5 minutes. Remove the fat with a ladle or spoon and even draw the remaining scraps off the surface with some absorbent paper.

The other way is to refrigerate the stock uncovered and let any fat harden. This is more easily removed and can be scraped away.

Finishing Off The Stock:

Taste the stock for strength. If it has a weak flavour then boil it down so that the content is reduced and the flavour becomes more concentrated.  Add seasoning just to improve the overall mouthfeel.

To store stock just allow it to cool at room temperature  and then refrigerate it. It can stored in a bottle but must be used in a few days. The other is to deep-freeze as portions in plastic containers which are two thirds full to allow for expansion of the bottle. Nothing worse than a bottle splitting. A number of chefs stored in the fridge for 3 days and then reboil to stop it spoiling but I would suggest the quality will have started to fade by then.

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