Every amazing dish has some secret in it of how it was made. Maybe for a slice of good meat, it was playing with temperatures. Or perhaps for stunning vegetables, it was a special seasoning. But for stew, soup, or sauce, the secret is a homemade brown stock (depends on the dish).
Whether brown or white, the stock is very time consuming; it takes more than 12 hours, depending on how much you are making. But if you are doing it with love, patience & no rush, it turns out amazing.
This recipe is ancient (more than 100 years). Or I should say that the technique of how to make it is old.
It was created by one of the greatest cooks, Auguste Escoffier. In the kitchen, everything we do was first structured and wrote by him.
12 steps to make Homemade brown stock classic
2.5kg of veal or pork bones (ask for a butcher)
1 large onion
1 large carrot
a bunch of parsley stalks
a bunch of thyme
4 cloves of garlic
1kg of beef without bones
2 tbsp of butter
- Preheat the oven to 200°C.
- In a tray that is just enough to seat all the bones in one layer, place the bones. Don’t use any baking paper or aluminum foil. We will work with everything that will stick to the bottom.
- Roast the bones without any seasoning for about 30 minutes. Then turn the bones over and roast for an additional 30 minutes. Add carrots (cut in cubes), onion, and roast for 15 minutes more.
- Take the baking sheet out of the oven and place everything in a large pot.
- Don’t wash the tin! Heat some water and pour it into a tray. Everything stuck to that baking sheet bottom has tons of flavor, and the water will deglaze it. So take the spatula, boiling water, and do some work. Then pour that flavored water in a pot where the bones are waiting.
- Fill that pot with additional water, just enough to cover the bones (if you pour more water, nothing wrong happens). Add bay leaves (3-4 is enough for 4 liters), parsley stalks, thyme, and garlic, and bring it to a boil.
- When you notice that it came to a boil, lower the heat so it could gently simmer. Simmer for 5-6 hours with a lid on. DO NOT BRING IT TO A BOIL AGAIN! Strain this broth off and go to the next step.
- Now we will work only with the broth that we made, butter, and beef without bones. Cut that beef into chunks.
- Place a medium-size pot on the stove, melt the butter, and make it pretty hot. Add beef chunks and sear until golden-brown on each side. You will notice that the beef released some water, which stops the browning, but let it steam, and we will get what we want.
- When they all are golden brown, and you got some browning on the bottom, the Maillard reaction has happened. Pour a quarter of the broth over the meat (just enough to cover it) and reduce till the glaze stage. It will look like a caramel only made from meat and water. Don’t forget to use high heat.
- Pour another quarter of the broth on the beef just enough to cover it one more time. Reduce till glaze. Now pour the remaining broth on the meat and leave it for 1 hour on medium heat to gently simmer.
- Strain everything off very well and place it in smaller containers. You can freeze it or use it within a few days.
And that’s basically it. If you freeze it, don’t do it while still warm; cool it down completely.
You know that you made an excellent brown stock if, after cooling down, it looks like a jelly, has a deep color, meaty smell, and flavor. My stock was tasty even though it didn’t have any salt. That’s amazing!
I know that those 12 hours or more sounds so long, but it’s worth it. I assure you.
Since every stock has a significant impact on almost every dish, I assume you want it to be pretty perfect. Merely reading and making the recipe doesn’t make that perfection.
To do that, you have to search for more information, test some theories, and deeply understand every single step.
Yep, that’s a lot of work, so let’s get to it.
First of all, why is it called homemade brown stock at all?
Two factors are super related to each other.
Firstly, that’s because of the color; it doesn’t look white, right?
Secondly, that’s because of the roasting technique.
Why do we use separate parts of the animal (first, bones, and then, the meat)?
It is Auguste Escoffier’s recipe. At that time, the restaurants bought not the parts but the whole animal. And they had their own butchers. So, a lot of bones had to be used.
Meanwhile, as a cook, you try to get the maximum flavor from everything you have and as perfect as it possibly can be. Super minimum waste and a massive amount of flavor. And that didn’t change during the last century.
We may not find as much flavor from the bones as from the meat, but we get a lot of collagen, which becomes gelatin at a specific temperature. That gelatin helps to thicken up our products and makes them look and taste richer.
The meat has much more flavor, especially when it’s been roasted in the pot. But it doesn’t have that much collagen.
Why do we use parsley STALKS instead of LEAVES in homemade brown stock?
I do not EVER recommend using any fresh herb leaves when cooking for longer than an hour (or even less, depending on the herb) because they CAN NOT STAND THE HEAT.
Plus, you won’t get that much flavor from it because it will break down immediately.
Talking about parsley parts, stalks have more flavor, and they can stand the heat longer. If we would talk about plating, of course, leaves are in the first place. But not this time.
Try it in your stock. I’m 100% sure you’ll notice the difference.
Why do we roast bones and meat for the homemade brown stock?
In this recipe, we are roasting two times. First, the bones in the oven, and second, the meat in the pot with butter.
And there happens Maillard’s reaction.
It means that amino acids & sugars, which are in the meat, react at high temperatures and create fantastic complex flavors.
There comes the aroma, deep golden brown color, rich taste, and our satisfaction. That’s super tasty!
And all of that will reflect in your stock.
If you eat only that golden crust without any seasoning on it, you would be mesmerized by how delicious it is. So we want that, don’t miss this part.
In the first roasting, we don’t use any foil or fat. The fat will come from the meat. But. After roasting, there will be a lot of browning stuck to the bottom of your baking sheet.
And now you think that you’ll never scrape this off, that everything is ruined. But it is way better than you imagine.
That browning has so much flavor!
If you pour some boiling water on it and gently scrape it with a silicone spatula, it will come off without effort. Pour it in the pot with bones.
So there are no cons, only pros. Your baking sheet is saved, and you pour maximum flavor in the pot for your stock.
Why can’t you boil the homemade brown stock? Why does it take 5-6 hours?
Well, I’ve read a lot about it, and finally, I got the answer. The thing is that boiling makes the bones & vegetables release proteins, which emulsify with the fat into stock and make it look muddy.
So it’s more just fancy stuff for restaurants so they could make a bright, uncloudy stock, and later, an even lighter consume.
Some say that boiling can inhibit the flavor and aroma because of those proteins. They think that it can cause even bitterness. But I haven’t found anything like that.
What actually can cause you bitterness and bacteria is leaving the bones with meat in the liquid after boiling. That can happen if you forget sometimes. I hope it won’t happen to you.
We are simmering the stock for so long because we are working with the bones at this stage. They don’t have as much flavor as meat. So the time allows us to take everything we can.
Why do I use the meat without bones later? Why do we have to golden-brown the meat and let it stick to the bottom of the pot?
The meat without bones has more flavor.
‘When they all are golden brown, and you got some browning on the bottom, the Maillard reaction has happened.‘ I said that in the directions of homemade brown stock.
The Maillard reaction means that the amino acids and sugar reacted at high temperatures and released complex compounds, which give us a fantastic aroma and flavor. That browning is super tasty.
Let it stick to the bottom and brown; nothing terrible will happen unless it’s burned. We will deglaze it with the broth, and all the flavor will enrich the stock.
Why are we reducing homemade brown stock a few times? Why are we waiting for the glaze stage?
We are making a high concentration of flavor.
Every time we are reducing it, the water evaporates, and the flavor stays. The more we do that, the more taste we get.
The glaze stage means that at that time, you evaporated everything you could. It looks like bubbling caramel; only it has a meaty flavor.
I brought my mom a teaspoon to taste that glaze. And I agree with her; it was delicious. And it didn’t contain any salt!
Auguste Escoffier repeated this stage at least 4 times. So don’t be lazy to do it at least 2 times.
Why do we have to simmer the homemade brown stock for one more hour?
Again, maximum flavor. Auguste Escoffier simmered the homemade brown stock until you wouldn’t be able to use the meat for anything except to feed the bin.
As you can imagine, it would take even more than 12 hours to make the actual way he used to do it.
Why does homemade brown stock become a jelly?
Remember that gelatin that we got from the bones? Well, it hasn’t disappeared.
When water was evaporating, the gelatin was concentrating. And now, after the homemade brown stock cooled down in the fridge, we have a jelly stock.
At high temperature, it melts down, so everything is fine.
And that is all I wanted to share with you about the homemade brown stock today. I know that each cook has its own way of making it, developing stronger or milder flavors, but for now, this one works fantastic for me.
I always cook a lot of homemade brown stock to freeze it and not worry about running out of it fast. Freezing doesn’t impact the flavor and aroma, so we’re good.
As always, if you have some questions, even the dumbest ones, I’m happy to answer.
Have a delicious day!