Making stock at home will definitely amp up the flavor in your dishes. I'm not going to lie. It's a bit of a pain in the keister, and it takes time. Today I want to go over the process I use to make brown stock.
The first step is to acquire some beef or veal bones. Ask your butcher for bones with more cartilage such as knuckle and neck bones. Veal bones will yield a richer stock than beef bones because younger animals have more cartilage. You will want a little over 5 pounds of bones per gallon of stock. Lay the bones out on rimmed baking sheets and roast them at 400 degrees for at least an hour.
While the bones are roasting, you can prepare the other components for your stock. This is a combination of vegetables (called mire poix) and your spices and herbs. Roughly cut carrots, onions, celery with tops, peelings, skins, etc on in the following proportion. 2 parts onion to 1 part carrot and 1 part celery (2:1:1). You will need a pound of mire poix per gallon of stock. As far as herbs and spices go, here is what I use per gallon of stock: ~ 3 bay leaves, ~ 3 sprigs of fresh thyme, ~ 1 tablespoon of peppercorns, and a small bunch of parsley stems. (Just a note: I keep a bag in my freezer full of parsley stems and celery tops which I save for stock versus throwing them out when preparing these ingredients for other dishes.)
You can place your roasted bones in the bottom of your stockpot (I use two pots) making sure there is no grease or dried blood. Fill the stockpot with COLD water (warm water will produce an unattractive cloudy stock). Your bones do not have to be completely submerged. You will want more than a gallon of water per gallon of stock as there will be a lot of evaporation which occurs as the pot simmers. Bring the water to a simmer. You do not want a rolling boil - this will make your stock cloudy. Skim any fat that rises. You can also pour off any fat from the roasting pan and then deglaze the pan with a little water from your stock pot, scraping up the fond. Add this to your pot. Continue to simmer and skim. Add your mire poix and your spices and herbs as well as 2 tablespoons of tomato paste per gallon of stock. Keep your pot simmering for 8-12 hours. Add water as necessary to counter evaporation.
Now this next part is very important. Once your stock is done cooking, you must cool it quickly. First remove the bones and large vegetable pieces. Then pour the liquid through a sieve or cheesecloth into a large vessel. You will want to fill your sink with ice and water and place your vessel with the filtered stock in it. Stir the stock to cool and keep adding ice as needed. You never want to place a hot pan in the refrigerator to cool as the heat from it will spoil any other food you have in the fridge. Once your stock has cooled, refrigerate it. It will keep 2-3 days in the refrigerator or several month in the freezer.
I refrigerate the stock overnight and then in the morning I measure out 2 cup portions into freezer bags. If you made your stock well, it will be somewhat gelatinous after it is refrigerated. I also fill ice cube trays with the stock. The 2 cup portions are nice for making sauces and soups. The ice cubes are great when you need to thin something out a little or add a little flavor to something but you don't need 2 cups worth of liquid.