Good stock is the basis for great meals, or so I have heard. I think I make pretty good chicken stock (thank you Zuni Café). Usually I make a double batch and make a demi out of half of it, which I freeze into ice cubes.
My original intention was to make the Beeton Strong Rich Stock and Zuni’s Beef Stock as a comparison. The downside to that is that in order to make the Zuni beef stock you first have to make chicken stock and I just couldn’t see making three stocks on a Saturday. So I stuck to just Beeton.
Now, interestingly, Beeton only has different kinds of meat stock – no chicken, veg or fish stock: Rich Strong Stock, Medium Stock, and Economical Stock. Economical comes closest to chicken stock in that she doesn’t specify a beef joint (although, I would say it is implied). Otherwise the other stocks definitely call for beef. In fact, the Rich Stock calls for beef, veal, ham, and poultry trimmings. A multi-animal broth, if you will.
Ingredients–4 lbs of shin of beef (every butcher I talked to said this was likely beef shank, which looks remarkably like lamb shank but smaller), 4 lbs of knuckle of veal (question by butcher, “Which knuckle? We just have veal bones, will that do?”), 3/4 lb of good lean ham; any poultry trimmings (the Zuni chicken stock uses extra wings for their glycerin content, therefore I looked for wings. My local store was out of chicken wings but had a honkin’ turkey wing, so I used that.); 3 small onions, 3 small carrots, 3 turnips, 1 head of celery (I just realized at this moment that I completely forgot this item – oops), a few chopped mushrooms, 1 tomato (during the winter I chose to use a tomato from some home canned tomatoes), a bunch of savoury herbs, not forgetting parsley; 1 1/2 oz of salt, 12 white peppercorns (I hate white peppercorns and used black), 6 cloves, 3 small blades of mace (everything I could find was ground and so I omitted this item), 4 quarts of water.
Mode–Line a delicately clean stewpan with the ham cut in thin, broad slices, carefully trimming off all its rusty fat; cut up the beef and veal in pieces about 3 inches square (my veal bones had no meat, so I only cut up the beef shank meat), and lay them on the ham, set it on the stove, and draw it down and stir frequently. When the meat is equally browned, put in the beef and veal bones, the poultry trimmings, and pour in the cold water. Skim well, and occasionally add a little cold water, to stop its boiling, until it becomes quite clear.
I am not a good skimmer. I hate it, which is why I tend to like the Zuni stocks because they are anti-skim. So, skimming until the broth is clear pretty much means skimming off the cooked blood until the liquid is golden and not red. A good tip, while the bones and such cook, right before skimming give a good hearty stir to the bones to get any impurities up to the top of the water. Skimming adds an extra 20 or 30 minutes to the recipe but perhaps I am just a crappy skimmer.
Then put in all the other ingredients and simmer very slowly for 5 hours. Do not let it come to a brisk boil, that the stock be not wasted, and that its colour may be preserved.
Strain through a very fine sieve, or tammy (or a regular strainer and cheesecloth), and it will be fit to use.
This is the first beef stock and one of few stocks of any variety that doesn’t call for the browning of the bones before the cooking. That was the hardest thing to resist changing. I had to buck up and really follow the recipe and have faith that all would come out fine. Then the addition of cloves (and mace – next time I will wait to get the un-ground article, it was very clear that it was blades and the ground stuff seemed like it would make too much of a profile so I avoided it) that gave me real room for pause, especially as it was cooking and I could smell the cloves. Plus, turnips? Weird. Now I wish I had double checked on the cabbage. Oh well, still not a perfect Victorian recipe.
Wings of any variety add so much glycerin I was very happy to add turkey wing to the recipe. The more glycerin, the more weight and silk your stock has, therefore the better it is.
As I first cooked it, the stock smelled so strongly of ham, I kept thinking what a mistake it was to have it. As the hours went by the more it smelled of pure beef. I wonder if the ham served as the replacement for vegetable oil, as I used none. Also, that whole non-browning of the bones! Another thing to resist, we are told over and over to brown our bones before making stock. I tasted the stock every hour, or so and at first it was so pale and weak. I was sure I messed it up by not adding that important caramelization (is that a word?). By the end it had that nice black tea color.
After straining, I split it evenly into containers for the fridge. It still came out to 4 quarts – so the 5 hours of slow simmer paid off, all I boiled out was the liquid from the meat, herbs, and veg. One trick I stole from Zuni Café was to swirl a little cold water in the empty pot at the end and then pour over the strained bones to get any last glycerin or good stock.
At the end of the evening, I tasted the stock. It left my mouth feeling coated with silk and there was a definite beefiness to it. In fact, the clove added a subtle, elegant EXTRA to it. I know that I have to add clove to my stock from now on. It doesn’t take over, it adds that undefinable quality. The best thing? The next morning in the fridge, the stock when jiggled acted like jello. A very firm set. I am super excited about what to make with this luxury item. Any ideas?