I love making stock.
So much so that I’m currently banned from making any more as I’ve run out of room. I tend to have a fairly decent stash of various types in the “overflow” freezer. Lamb, Beef, Pork, LOTS of chicken, duck, fish, and of course a nice stash of demi glace. That is something I can’t be without now, demiglace transforms lacklustre sauces into something else entirely, adding lots of depth of flavour. It’s a silver bullet for sauces and gravy. That, and butter of course. It’s probably why restaurant sauces taste so good compared to home cooked versions, even if you follow the recipe to the letter.
But it takes a long time to make demi glace, and lots of room, and patience. I make it about twice a year. I like having something cooking slowly all weekend, plus it makes the house smell great. Nice and Beefy.
I got this recipe from Anthony Bourdain’s Les Halles cookbook. You will need some BIG stockpots for this. I bought a huge one precisely for this purpose from a shop in Leicester (Melton road to be precise) – it’s like an Aladdin’s cave – go down the stairs and it’s full of all sorts of wonderful stuff. More on that another time.
- I order veal shin (or marrow bones) from JTBeedham butchers in Sherwood, Nottingham. I’ll call up a few days beforehand and ask him to keep some aside for me when he breaks down the cows. I get him to saw them up into more manageable pieces for me too.
- Then I buy a shedload of carrots, onions and celery. And some tomato puree.
- I smear the bones in tomato puree, sprinkle on some flour and swizz them all about to cover them in it.
- Then I peel the veg, which totals about 30% volume of the bones, made up of 50% white onion, 25% carrot and 25% celery.
- Roast the bones in a 180C (ish) oven, jiggle them about from time to time to get them nicely covered. Don’t burn them otherwise you’ve lost.
- Pop the chopped and peeled veg into another oiled roasting pan (or two). Roast that lot until it’s nicely browned on the edges, but not burnt.
- Once that’s done – your house should smell very beefy. Nice. Put everything into a huge stockpot (or two) and fill it with cold water. Add some Thyme sprigs, black peppercorns and a few bay leaves. Bring that lot up to a simmer, but DON’T LET IT BOIL.
- Simmer it as slowly as you can lot for 10 or so hours. TEN HOURS. Occasionally skim off any scum from the top.
- Then strain it all through a chinois, or through some muslin in a seive, as many times as you can be bothered. The more the better. Let it cool down. You now have a basic brown beef (or veal) stock. I tend to keep some of this back and freeze it. You never know when you need some beef stock. Mmm, beefy.
- Then put red wine equal to about a quarter of the volume of stock there is into another stockpot, add a few finely chopped shallots and reduce it over high heat by half. Then add the stock you have left to it. bring it up to a simmer, again – don’t boil it!
- Let that reduce down slowly for a few hours, until it’s super-reduced, but not really sticky. It’s normally Sunday afternoon by this point for me, if I start on a Saturday morning.
- Once it’s nice and reduced, take it off the heat and run it through the chinois (or muslin) again a few times. Then store it. I put it into ice cube bags and freeze it. That way I can pop a beefy ice cube out of the freezer at any time.
I know it takes a while to make, but this stuff is great.
Here’s what I end up with after a weekend’s worth of reduction. Essence of beef. All those bones and veg (less about a pint or so of “normal stock” I pinched for the freezer) got me a litre of demi. Totally worth it.