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Grilled Beef and Bones for Stock???

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There I was, at my beach house (the one without a real oven), with about 10 pounds of beef shin and a 14-qt copper stocker. A nasty day outside, one meant for making stock. What to do?

Luckily, there was also a raincoat, a fresh bag of charcoal, and a Texas pity smoker outside, so I thought: Why not roast the bones and meat in the pit before loading the stocker? After breaking the bones and dropping a grate directly over the fire, a few minutes was all it took to get a good browning on both. Then I relocated the food to a roaster in the indirect part of the pit and worked the fire up to about 325F. After about 90 minutes, into the stocker with aromatics as usual, for a 12-hour process.

Three days later, I made French Onion Soup according to Thomas Keller's now-famous recipe. While the onions were caramelizing, I reduced the stock by half, and finished per instructions.

This was one of the best FOSs I've ever made. So I'm wondering... Does anyone else have a "trick" for using the BBQ/grill as a start for stocks? This stock was SO much better than the same stuff roasted in a conventional oven, the contrast was amazing. Someone, please explain.

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  1. I do this with my gas BBQ and my wood fire oven as time allows. I think beef has a natural affinity for the open fire. I also roast my chicken bones and veg in the wood fire oven for stock making too. I prefer the flavor that the wood coals impart (without tasting Smokey) and I really do think it makes superior stock.

    1. Probably the flavor difference is due to the hotter initial roasting with the grill. Oven roasting doesn't get as hot. There may also have been a difference in the amount of meat in your stock. Making beef stock requires a lot more meat than does a comparable volume of chicken stock. Perhaps you had more meat and bones than usual?

      1 Reply
      1. re: greygarious

        greygarious: No, the meat and bones were in the normal proportion (for me) to the water, about 10 lbs of bones with meat and about a 6-lb roast for extra. And with the aromatics and everything inside the stocker, the total starting volume was about 4G. At the finished end, I got exactly 1G of stock.

        My fire was just charcoal. I omitted my usual fruitwood for fear of bitterness. As it was, a very slight "sourness" could be tasted up to the time of first straining, then dissipated. I associated this with the smoke. As the onions were caramelizing, I reduced 3 pints of the stock by another 1/3. It threw another scum, and the sourness was completely gone after skimming. While the FOS was simmering, the remainder of the stock was reduced to a glaze for later this week.

        I think you might be right about the heat. Never got close to a char in the oven before. Next batch I'll try broiling the meat and bones to near black and see how it compares to the pit..