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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Stock making, part 1

This was my first experience making real beef stock. I got the instructions out of the book "Cast Iron Cuisine: From Breakfast to Dessert."

Apparently there's a lot more to it than just boiling bones! This will be in 2 parts, since the stock needs to cool overnight.

First I saved the beef bones from the spare ribs* I made a few days ago. This morning I laid them out in a cast iron skillet, drizzled olive oil on them, seasoned with black pepper, and roasted for an hour at 400.**

*I've since learned that shanks, hocks and soup bones are better for making beef stock. My grocery store didn't have any of those, which is why I got the spare ribs... so I'll need to visit a local meat market next time.

**At first I thought that roasting at 400 was a mistake, since the bones came out charred. But per the instructions, that is normal.

Then I cut up the veggies: onions, celery and carrots*. You can also include leeks but I did not. On a cast iron pizza pan, olive oil, black pepper, and roasted for an hour at 300.

*I should have included garlic cloves too. Oh well, there's always next time.

About the pot: Normally stock is made in a "stock pot." But I wanted to use cast iron, and there are no "cast iron stock pots," per se. So I just used a dutch oven, uncovered.

Threw the bones and veggies in the dutch oven. The instructions said to deglaze both pans and add the liquid to the pot, but there was really nothing to deglaze. So I just added cold water*, bay leaves, black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, and dried onion flakes. Brought to a near boil, reduced the heat, simmer uncovered for several hours.

*I had not known that you're supposed to add cold water to stock, not hot. This makes for a clearer stock.

Apparently there are stock pots with spigots on them, to make the process easier. The absolute cheapest available is an 11.5 quart stainless steel, on, for $289 with free shipping. I don't have one, so I'm doing this the old fashioned way.

After it's simmered for several hours, turn off the heat and let it cool. Remove the veggies with a slotted spoon; You can use them to make a soup. Then remove the bones to a plate for the dog, if you have one.

Then I got a stainless steel pot, placed a strainer on top*, and slowly poured the liquid out of the dutch oven. I'm using stainless steel because the stock needs to be refrigerated overnight, and you can't store liquid in cast iron, for obvious reasons.

*The first time you strain the stock, you use a strainer. When you strain again the following day, you're supposed to use a chinois, also called a china cap, which is finer than a strainer. I don't have one right now, so I'm going to try the strainer with coffee filters.

In the morning, I plan to scoop the fat off the top of the refrigerated stock, and then continue this process.


  1. Matt has a response, but he's having trouble posting it. On his behalf, here it is:

    "An observation: the pot should be deglazed AFTER the bones come out of the container. Sparerib beef bones are good to use; however, soup bones, shanks, hocks, are all, in my opinion, better because they contribute gelatin, which makes for a thicker, more redolent stock. Also, you might want to throw in a whole hock or shank.

    Cold water should always be added. Even better is to throw in ice cubes. It will make it easier to clarify the stock.

    I don’t think the stock will go through a coffee filter. You might try several folds of cheesecloth in a strainer. I don’t see any reason why not to put cast iron in the refrigerator.

    After the stock comes out of the refrigerator, it should be a gelatin with the fat cap. Remove the fat cap and save for seasoning other dishes. It’s especially good when making hash browns."

    Posted for Matt Morehouse, coauthor Cast Iron Cuisine from Breakfast to Dessert

  2. Yeah, I was hoping to get some good beef bones, but my grocery store didn't carry them... so I had to get the ribs. I'm going to have to find a locally owned meat market.

    I was thinking you shouldn't leave liquid in cast iron for too long due to rust, but maybe overnight might not have been bad.

    I was surprised at how little fat there was on top, this morning; It was a gel, but not solid fat. I scraped it off with my skimmer, then ran it through my skimmer, which is finer than my strainer. It's back on the stove now. I'll see if I can get some cheesecloth and try that.

  3. Also, I'm not sure if you're supposed to dice the veggies or just cut them up... but I cut them in big chunks.