Before he retired to Florida, my husband’s father was a successful automobile dealer. As an active member of the National Automobile Dealer’s Association, his travels took him both to Detroit and Washington, D.C. Upon his return, we’d be treated to stories of his adventures; dignitaries and celebrities he’d met on perfectly manicured golf courses, plush hotels with elaborate lobbies, and mouth-watering meals.
Of course, a profession that involves a lot of traveling can become quite grueling, and the accommodation and food are not always so grand. His one piece of advice when checking out a new place to dine was to try the soup.
“A delicious soup comes from a well-made broth” he’d say. “If the soup is terrible, so will be the food.”
Whenever I go to make a soup, I still remember these words. Preparing a broth, or stock, is one of the trademarks of a well-run kitchen. It’s your personal stamp and mark of identity. I liken it to the terroir, of a fine wine.
Plus, a homemade broth is more nutritious. Mass-produced stocks are usually laced with sodium and high in fat. One cup of your kitchen’s bouillon comes in at about 20 calories; a great pick-me-up, or the delicious start to a savory sauce.
The recipe for Brown Meat Stock is a merely a guide, and uses the classic French aromatics of onions, carrots, celery and garlic. Be creative, and clean out your vegetable bins.
Preparing any good broth is easy, but it takes time, a good day really. It’s the perfect project for snow days or gale warnings when the long simmering can be done on the wood stove. Once done, strain your stock, label your jars, and enjoy the trademark of your kitchen.
Brown Meat Stock
- 4 pounds or more of meaty raw bones, chopped into pieces
- 4 pounds or more of aromatics: carrots, celery or celeriac, onions, leeks, garlic, shallots
- Whole lemon
- bay leaves
- whole peppercorns
- Rosemary and thyme sprigs
- 1 cup tomato, fresh or canned (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Grease a roasting pan and arrange the chopped meat bones in the pan. Roast, tending and turning as needed, until the fat has completely cooked away from the bones, and the meat is brown and crispy. Remove the bones to a large stockpot. Pour the juice over the bones.
- Add some hot water to the roasting pan and scrape up all the bits of browned meat. Pour this into the stockpot. Add the vegetables, herbs, lemon and tomato.
- Bring the mixture to a boil and simmer. Continue to cook and simmer, stirring for about 4 to 5 hours. As the bones cook, the marrow will start to soften and become part of the stock. As Julia Child writes, “Simmer until the bones have given their all.”
- Remove the pot from the heat and let cool. Scoop out the cooked material and strain the liquid into a glass or metal container. Cool until the fat hardens on top. Remove the fat.
- Reheat the stock gently and portion into pint or quart jars.