Friday, December 5, 2008

Beef Stock

3 to 3 1/2 lbs. beef shank, center-cut
3 medium onions, quartered
2 bay leaves, imported
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves

Optional: 3-4 unpeeled smashed garlic cloves, two unpeeled and quartered carrots, a chopped tomato, mushroom stems

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Place the beef shank and onions in a shallow roasting pan and roast, turning once, 45-55 minutes, or until the meat and onions are nicely browned. Transfer to a large stockpot.

Pour off any fat from the roasting pan. Pour 2 cups of water into the pan, set over moderately high heat, and bring to a boil, scraping up all the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Pour into the stockpot.

Add 4 1/2 to 5 more quarts of water to the stockpot and bring to a boil, skimming off any foam that rises to the top. Add the bay leaves and thyme, reduce the heat to moderately low and simmer, partially covered, 3 1/2 to 4 hours.

Strain the stock. If there is more than 3 1/2 to 4 quarts, boil to reduce. Skim the fat off the top. If you have time, it's easier to let it cool, then cover and refrigerate overnight; the next day, scrape the congealed fat off the top.

Store in a tightly closed container. This stock will keep well for up to 3 days in the refrigerator or up to 6 months in the freezer. To make usage simple, divide it into 2- and 4-cup container so that you can defrost just what you need to use for one dish.


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