Hunters are always looking for creative ways to get the most out of the game they harvest. Processing the meat is straight forward, but what do you do with the bones? Most of us leave the bones out bleaching in the sun but there is more you can do. Making your own game stock will take your cooking to a whole new level! Animal bones are a great source of vital nutrients and when prepared properly homemade stock will enhance any dish. On the surface making stock seems simple, but there are a few rules you need to follow.
We have all stood in the soup isle at the grocery store and wondered, “what is the difference between stock and broth?” By definition stock is a flavorful unseasoned liquid and broth is a flavorful seasoned liquid. In this instance seasoned refers to salt; stock has no salt added and broth does.
Now that we know the difference between stock and broth, we need to discuss what bones to use. Not all bones are good bones for stock. When making stock you want to use the large round bones and knuckle bones. These bones have a lot of marrow and connective tissue that will cook down and add a lot of flavor and collagen to the stock. Bones to avoid are the shoulder blade, ribs and spine. The spinal column should be avoided because of potential diseases, such as CWD. It also contains a fluid what will make your stock cloudy and visually unappealing.
Prepping your bones for stock is a straightforward process. I like to brush the bones with tomato sauce and roast them at 375 degrees for 45 minutes. The acid in the tomato sauce opens up the pours in the bones and allows them to render more of the flavors and nutrients. After my bones have roasted, I place them into a large stock pot and return the empty sheet pan to the oven until hot again. In doing this you are cooking any leftover bits on the pan. Once sheet pan is hot, I remove from oven and immediately pour a half cup of white wine on the pan. I use high temp spatula to scrape up any of the brown bits that are stuck to the pan. When all the brown bits are lifted from the pan, I add mixture to the stock pot with the bones. This step will add flavor.
Adding vegetables to your stock will impart more flavor. This step is a quick easy way to clean out the crisper drawer. When making stock there is no need for pretty vegetables. Older vegetables are great but do not use vegetables that show sighs of rot. I often use vegetable scraps from other recipes, I even keep a bag in my refrigerator where I save scraps from onions, carrots, mushroom stems and celery. Don’t be afraid to use the peels, stems and tops, they still have flavor to give. I avoid using vegetables such as eggplant, squash and bell peppers, they could leave bitter flavors and cloud your stock.
Using herbs are important to flavor your stock. I like to use thyme, rosemary, parsley stems and one or two bay leaves. With the addition of herbs, the stock will be packed with flavor. Follow the recipe below
Recipe by Chef Lance Lewis
- 4 to 5 pounds roasted bones
- 1 onion rough cut into quarters
- 3 to 4 carrots rough cut in 3rds
- 3 to 4 stalks of celery rough cut in 3rds (include the leafy part))
- Mushroom stems (not required)
- 3 stems of rosemary
- 3 stems of thyme
- Small bunch of parsley (stems and all)
- 2 to 3 bay leaves
- One gallon of water or enough to cover bones
- Place all ingredients into large stockpot. Add enough water to cover the bones and bring to a low simmer. It is important to keep stock at simmer and not a hard boil. Bringing stock to a hard boil will result in a cloudy stock.
- Stocks take little effort but a lot of time. Allow stock to simmer for a minimum of 8 hours, the longer you can go the better. Because stock takes so long it is perfectly ok to leave on stove with low heat over night. If you do, however, be sure to check water level and add more water if needed
- As stock simmers, remove any bits or foam that forms on top.
- After stock has simmered and the bones have rendered out all that they have to give, filter stock through a fine mesh strainer
- Allow to cool and store in refrigerator or freeze
- If you are storing stock in refrigerator re boil once a week for at least 5 minutes. This step can be done up to 3 times before stock will need to be frozen.