Homemade Lamb or Beef Stock

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I have to give it to you straight on this one.

Making stock isn’t the prettiest job.

There are bones and/or carcasses to deal with.  And skimming scum (ugh, that word is especially not pretty…but that’s really what it’s called!) off the top of a simmering pot of liquid that is best described as looking like murky pond water.  And the fun continues into the next day with skimming the fat off the top of the cold gelatinous stock.

It’s not pleasant, not in the slightest.But it is so worth it in the end for this liquid gold.  The flavor of homemade stock is unparalleled by anything you can buy at the grocery store (at least in my experience!)…try it and see for yourself.  Plus it’s so good for you.  If you’re interested in reading about the benefits of bone broth, this article on Nourished Kitchen is fantastic.

And I’ll let you in on a little trick.  See that gorgeous deep gold color?  The onion peel is one of the biggest reasons for that deep shade.  Add a few extra peels if you have them on hand.

A Note on Salt:  2 tablespoons of salt might sound like a lot, but this makes a lot of stock and an under-seasoned stock is really not good.  (Wasn’t it Ina Garten who compared under-seasoned stock to dirty dishwater?  That lady is brilliant.)  This amount of salt yields a moderately salty stock, which I think is perfect for use in most recipes.  To adjust the saltiness to suit your preference, once the stock is finished cooking, you can taste it and add more salt if the stock isn’t salty enough or add more water if the stock is too salty…either way, it’s an easy fix!

Lamb or Beef Stock

Yields about 6 quarts

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 large (about 3-4 lbs) raw lamb or beef bones (with or without meat)*

9 quarts cold water

4 large carrots, washed, unpeeled and halved

2 large onions, unpeeled and quartered

A couple extra onion peels, if available

1 heart of celery (including stalks and leafy tops), washed and halved

1 leek, chopped and rinsed to remove any grit

1 head garlic, unpeeled and halved cross-wise

1/2 bunch parsley (leaves and stems), rinsed

1 bunch thyme (about 15-20 sprigs), rinsed

2 tablespoons coarse salt

1 1/2 tablespoons whole peppercorns

8 juniper berries (or 2 sprigs rosemary, rinsed)

5 bay leaves

3 whole cloves

3 whole pods cardamom, cracked

*Mike and I buy our meat at a halal butcher; if possible, try to use organic grass-fed lamb or beef.

Add the oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat; add the bones and brown on all sides, about 5 minutes.  Add the bones (along with any juices in the skillet) to a large stock pot along with the water; bring to a full boil over high heat, skimming off any foam or scum that rises to the top.  Once boiling, turn heat down and simmer 1 hour with the lid on but slightly ajar, skimming off any scum from the top.

Add all remaining ingredients, turn heat up to high, and bring to a boil again; turn heat down and simmer uncovered 4 hours.  Cool and strain through a cheesecloth-lined colander placed over a large pot to catch the stock, squeezing the cheesecloth to extract as much stock as possible; discard the solids.  If the bones had meat on them, pull the meat off and use it in whatever you want.

Pour the stock into freezer-safe storage containers, cool to room temperature, and then refrigerate overnight.  The next day, skim the fat off the top; keep the stock in the fridge for up to 3 days or in the freezer 6 months or longer.

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  1. says

    You got that right sister! It may be a little bit of work but the best things are always worth it. Am I crazy, but I don’t mind working with carcasses and bones? lol. I love the color of this stock – great tip about the onion peel.

  2. says

    Funny you posted this Faith. I was just thinking this week after an outing to a ramen place how I always make chicken stock but rarely beef or lamb. I got nice marrow filled bones sitting in the freezer. The ramen place made deep broths with pork which we don’t eat so we had the vegetarian version.

  3. Brandi B. says

    I ALWAYS have various kinds of stock on hand (these including chicken and pork, as well). My tip to anyone and everyone is save all those kitchen scraps in your freezer — as soon as you have bones to boil, grab those scraps from your freezer and you’re ready to go. Cuts way down on waste (I personally go as far as pulling off any meat scraps for the animals). It’s so much better for the planet, your body, and you get more bang for your buck!

  4. says

    Thanks for sharing this—I’ve only made chicken stock, but I wanna try beef!! I have some bones for it (unfortunately they are in a different state than I’m in right now, but I’ll find a way to make that work!)…

  5. says

    Now that I keep a few backyard hens we no longer eat chicken but when we did I used to save up the carcasses in the freezer.Lots of them, just for stock making. I was always worried someone would take a peek in the freezer and think I was some kind of weirdo, or worse. Homemade stock is a beautiful thing but I must admit in the UK we can get some fabulous fresh stock in the delis and even some supermarkets so many people don’t bother. But it is a wholesome bit of upcycling, for sure. Timely post for autumn soup and risotto making :D

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