Easy beef stock

  • 8–12 hours, nearly all unattended

Beef stock is really quite easy to make, but it takes hours of very gentle simmering to extract the flavor from the meat and bones. I use a slow cooker so I don’t have to tend it. I also use beef shank, which includes a good piece of bone but also a lot of flavorful meat, because the traditional French method of making stock from only bones has great body but not much flavor. If you want more gelatin in your stock, you can add some extra bones.

Stock will keep in the freezer for several months. If you plan to use it in small quantities, freeze it in ice cube trays, then break out the cubes into a freezer bag.

    • 2 thick (1-inch) slices beef shank
    • 1 tablespoon oil

    Heat a skillet (cast iron is good) over medium-high heat until quite hot. Brown the beef well on both sides.

    • 8 cups water

    Place the beef in a slow cooker and cover with the water. Bring to a bare simmer — you should see only occasional bubbles. If foam or scum rises to the surface, skim it off. Otherwise, let simmer, covered and undisturbed, for 8 hours. (The timing isn’t critical. Six would do in a pinch, and up to twelve is fine.)

    • 1 small onion, quartered
    • 1 carrot, in thick chunks
    • 1 rib celery, in several pieces
    • 1 tablespoon oil

    Brown the vegetables over medium-high heat and add to the stock for the last hour of simmering. You could also, at this point, add a bay leaf and a few peppercorns.