Although brown stock is typically beef or veal, it can be made from just about any animal bones. That’s because the term brown stock refers to the cooking process more than the type of bones used. In Stock vs Broth, I briefly mentioned that for brown stock, you caramelize the bones and the vegetables before simmering. That’s the procedure we’ll use for making a brown stock today. Beef, veal, and game stocks are the most common brown stocks because roasting their bones intensifies their wonderful natural flavors and gives them deep, rich color.

Escoffier’s brown stock is significantly different than today’s brown stock. Even in culinary school, we used a more modern version. Since the required classical dish for an ACF competition called for brown stock (and that means Escoffier’s brown stock), I had to make it. I stayed after school to prepare it and I found it interesting that several of the instructors had never even seen it made so they stuck around to watch me. We all came to the conclusion that it was light years better than today’s typical brown stock but there’s no question that it’s significantly more expensive and much more time consuming to make. Even with that warning, I’m sure at least a few of you are up for the challenge (or at least curious) so I typed up instructions for both Brown Stock and Escoffier’s Brown Stock, which I’ll refer to as Estouffade (as it’s listed in Le Guide Culinaire). Because of the length of the post with both, we’ll do brown stock today and I’ll post estouffade tomorrow.

Now, for brown stock.

Equipment

  • Roasting pan (preferably) or something similar for cooking the bones
  • Tongs
  • Wooden spoon
  • Stock Pot (at least 8 qt for this recipe)
  • Cutting board
  • Chef’s knife
  • Cheesecloth
  • Kitchen twine
  • Shears

Ingredients

  • 5 lbs beef or veal bones (for veal, knuckles are the best; for beef, use bones from the shin or shank)
  • 10 oz mirepoix (5 oz onions, 2.5 oz carrots, 2.5 oz celery), large dice
  • 3 oz tomato paste (Ounces, not fluid ounces. Read about the difference here.)
  • Sachet:
    • 1 bay leaf
    • 2 fresh thyme sprigs (whole) or 1/4 tsp dried
    • 4 black peppercorns (whole)
    • 3 parsley sprigs (leaves and stems)
  • 1 gallon cold water (Why cold water? Read this.)

Procedures

Preheat your oven to 375ºF. Place the bones in a roasting pan in a single layer. If your bones won’t fit in a single layer, use two pans instead of cramming them into one. Place the pan(s) in the oven. Your goal here is to brown the bones evenly and it’ll take about an hour to do it. In order for them to brown evenly, they’ll need to be turned periodically. When they’ve been in the oven 10 minutes, remove the pan from the oven and turn each bone over using a pair of tongs. Return to the oven and repeat this process for the remainder of the hour. While I turn them every 10-ish minutes, your oven temperature could vary from mine so keep an eye on them and turn them as needed. When roasting bones, remember: brown is good, black is bad. Don’t burn the bones or you’ll have to throw them away and start over.
Once the bones are roasted, remove them to the stock pot. Drain the fat from the pan and reserve. Deglaze the roasting pan by pouring some of the reserved gallon of water into your pan and scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Once all the bits (known as fond) are removed, pour the deglazing liquid into the stock pot with the bones. Add the remaining gallon of water and bring the pan to a simmer over medium heat. Add more water if it doesn’t fully cover the bones.
Meanwhile, sauté the mirepoix in the reserved fat until browned. Do this in a single layer; you want all the vegetables to touch the bottom of the pan. If they don’t, cook them in batches. 

Timeout: let’s talk about this procedure for a second. If you tried to cook too many vegetables at once, you would create multiple layers of vegetables in the pan. The vegetables on bottom will sauté because they have direct contact with the pan. The vegetables in the middle and top, however, will steam. That’s because all vegetables have a high water content and that water is released during cooking. Since the vegetables in the middle and on top don’t have contact with the cooking surface, they’re being cooked by the hot vapors instead of by the pan. This creates a completely different result, like the difference between a pan-seared piece of chicken versus a steamed piece of chicken. 

Add the sautéed mirepoix to the stock pot, along with the sachet and tomato paste and gently simmer. Skim the stuff off the top every 15 minutes or so for the first hour and every 30 minutes for the next hour then periodically, as needed, for the remaining 4 to 6 hours of cooking time. That means it will cook for a total of 6 to 8 hours.

Follow the same procedures for straining, cooling, degreasing, and storing as for chicken stock.

Estouffade tomorrow! It’s stupid delicious.

Printable Beef Stock Recipe (or use the print icon in the footer to print extended instructions)

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