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Homemade Beef Stock from Soup Bones

Amount depends on reduction

I remember when my mother used to buy inexpensive but gorgeous, meaty beef bones from the butcher to use in her beef and vegetable soup. Unfortunately, I never see them where I buy meat. So, for years I was using beef ribs when they went on sale. The problem was that, besides being expensive, it seemed to be such a waste of good meat when I just wanted a broth or stock. Much to my surprise, I eventually found beef soup bones in the freezer section. Since they were not very expensive, I bought two bags and gave it a try. When prepared properly, as in this recipe, they make a very flavorful broth or stock. Making any homemade stock takes a long time, but most of the preparation is hands off, and the results are so good. I find it especially rewarding with beef stock because the store-bought varieties are either way too salty or have little flavor. So, when you have a day or weekend to spend at home, give this a try and freeze until needed for your favorite recipes. See the notes below for usage and storage suggestions.

Ingredients

Preheat oven to 450° F. Place bones in a roasting pan large enough to hold them in one layer. Roast for 45 minutes. Add the onions, carrots, celery and garlic. Roast for another 45 minutes, stirring once or twice.

Using a slotted spoon or tongs, transfer the bones and vegetables to a large stock or soup pot. Pour the grease out of the roasting pan and discard. Place the pan over medium-high heat. Add the tomato paste and stir, about one minute, being careful not to burn. Add the wine and 2 cups of the water. Bring to a boil and stir to scrape up all of the browned bits in the bottom of the pan. Pour into the soup pot. Add the remaining water, enough to just cover the bones, bay leaves and thyme. Add pepper and a little salt. (As the stock cooks down, the salt intensifies, so go easy. You can always add more at the end, or when you use the stock in a recipe.) Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to low, cover, and simmer for 2 hours, adjusting heat as needed to maintain a slow simmer. Remove the lid and continue to simmer over low heat for another 2 hours. Remove the bones and vegetables from the pot and strain the stock through a fine sieve. (At this point, I usually chill the stock overnight so I can easily remove the fat that forms on top. If you want to use it the same day, you can skim the fat off the top using a spoon or paper towels.) Taste for seasoning and, if desired, and depending on how you will use the stock, adjust the salt and pepper.

Notes: The stock can be used immediately or packaged in desired portions and frozen for up to six months. Alternately, it may be further reduced as desired to save space in the freezer, which further intensifies the flavor. You can even reduce it until it is very thick and gelatinous, like a demiglace, freeze in ice cube trays, then place in freezer bags to use in sauces. It might seem like you started with a lot and ended up with very little, but the flavor is so concentrated that you do not need many cubes in one recipe. Even if you use the reduction as a stock or broth, add some water, taste for seasoning, and adjust as needed. See the beef broth in the similar and related recipes links for a version made with meaty beef or short ribs.