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Over the weekend I attempted a brown beef stock for the first time.

I roasted (from frozen) a couple of kilos of beef bones in the oven for an hour or so until they were a deep brown colour all over.

I drained off the fat that had collected in the oven dish, deglazed with water and added this and the bones into a stockpot with an additional 2 litres of water, roughly chopped onions, carrots and celery, a few sprigs of thyme, a couple of bay leaves and a few black peppercorns.

The stock was brought to the boil and then left to simmer for 3 hours over a low heat. When I strained the stock, it was a yellowy tan colour and not the dark brown that I had been hoping for.

What did I do wrong?

  • See the answer below for the 'brown' issue, but for the yellow -- carrots can do it, but so can onions (especially the dried outer layers). It's more noticable in ligher colored stocks, though. – Joe Jul 10 '18 at 18:06
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The brown color of the stock comes from the cooking method, not the kind of bones, a chicken stock cooked in the "brown stock" method can be as dark as what we expect beef stock to be.

Roasting the bones was a good start; but you also need to brown the vegetables, either with the bones for the last half hour or in a pan on the stovetop.

One of the most important parts of brown stock is to add tomato to the vegetable mix, either finely diced or more often tomato paste. Cooking the tomato to a dark brick red will round out the components needed to make a very dark stock.

Whether you roast all the ingredients together in the oven or separate the vegetables to the stove; deglazing everything as you did helps the flavor, color, and of course makes cleaning the pans easier :)

  • Well tomato paste is a new one for me. I assume this is the same as what we call tomato purée in the UK? Thanks for all your advice. I'll be trying this again on Saturday! – Sam Hastings Nov 27 '12 at 13:16
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    Giorgio Locatelli recommends smearing tomato puree on the bones before roasting for his stocks, which should intensify the sweetness. – Gary Nov 27 '12 at 13:59
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Simmer the stock for 6 hrs not 3! This is crucial in order to achieve a dark brown stock with 2 liters of water. Add tomato paste, as it will brown the stock. If nothing else works, just put it on mid - high heat for 30 mins or until demi-glaze is made. Demi-glaze is the only way to salvage it

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