One of the best ways to make sure you are using every part of wild game you harvest is to make a stock. Stock is one of the easiest things you can make but it does take time and attention. There are a couple ways to make stock but the best way in our opinion is to make it on the stove top. But you can also make a stock in a pressure cooker or a crock pot. We'll give you a few tips for using these alternative methods as we describe the stove top method.
Stock vs Broth: The Key Differences
The terms stock and broth are used interchangeably even by professional chefs. The main difference is that stock is derived from bones while broth is made from meaty parts along with bones, vegetables, herbs, and spices. In general, a stock is not made salt, while a broth typically includes a substantial amount. We've got a neat blog that details the differences.
What are the Main Ingredients Used to Make a Stock?
Here is some great news. Stock only takes a small number of ingredients. The key things you'll need are bones, water, a little tomato paste, and some vinegar. Many recipes will include spices like peppercorns and celery, but these aren't necessary. A basic stock is more versatile when it doesn't include spices in the cooking process. You can always turn your stock into broth by adding flavor, salt, and other ingredients when you are ready to use it.
What is a Stock Used For?
In classical French cooking, you'll find hundreds of recipes that start with stock. From soups and stews, to savory roast dishes, a stock is one of the most important skills any cook can learn. A stock enables you to make a wide variety of savory sauces and is ideal for flavoring rice dishes.
What Bones Can Stock Be Made Of?
Stock is commonly made from beef, pork, chicken, and fish bones. Vegetable stock is actually a broth, but it is made with less ingredients (similarly to bone stock).
How to Make Your Own Venison Stock
The first thing you will need to do to make stock at home is gather some supplies. Here's what you'll need:
- a very large stock pot
- a roasting pan
- venison bones
- a slotted spoon
- a fine mesh strainer, cheesecloth, or paper towels
- cold water
- a small amount of tomato paste
- about two tablespoons of vinegar
Step 1: Roasting the Bones
Lightly grease the roasting pan and arrange the bones in a single layer. With a brush, spoon, or your hands, coat the deer bones in tomato paste evenly. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees and place the roasting pan in the oven. Bake for about 45 minutes until the bones are brown and roasted. This step helps to soften the gamey flavors, adds a certain amount of roastiness, and helps to begin the process of breaking down the tissues. You can split the bones when roasting to maximize the amount of marrow you will get into your stock.
Step 2: Starting the Stock
Place the roasted bones in the stock pot and cover with cold water. Add a small amount of water to the roasting pan to deglaze the remnants. Add this to your stock pot as well. It's a big bunch of delicious venison broth flavor you don't want to throw away. Two tablespoons of vinegar in the water will help break down the cartilage and other connective tissues in the bones, which helps speed up the formation of gelatin in the stock and creates a richer finished product.
Step 3: Cooking the Stock
Bring the water and bones in the large pot slowly to a gentle simmer over very low heat. The low heat allows the minerals and vitamins in the wild game bones and marrow to slowly break down and dissolve into the water. Don't allow the water to boil as this will ruin the stock. The longer you simmer bone stock, the more flavor you will extract.
How Long to Cook the Stock
Large bones like those you'll use for beef stock or venison stock will need to simmer for a very long time. Plan on a minimum of eight hours for two to three pounds of bones. We like to simmer large bones for 12 hours or longer until they are practically falling apart. Check the liquid level after several hours to make sure the liquid level stays above the bones. If you see scum floating on the surface, use a slotted spoon to swipe it off.
Step 4: Finishing the Stock
You can taste the stock periodically to make sure the flavors are good. When you are satisfied that you've extracted all the nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and flavor from the bones, you will want to rapidly cool the liquid. The first step is to remove the bones. We use heavy-duty tongs to lift the bones out and set them in a bowl to cool.
Step 5: Straining the Stock
Carefully pour the stock through a fine-mesh strainer to collect the solids. Place a square of cheesecloth in a sieve and slowly pour the stock through the cheesecloth. This will filter out impurities and help to make your stock more clear.
Step 6: Cooling the Stock
As quickly as possible, you'll want to reduce the temperature of your stock. Temperatures between about 40 and 140 degrees are prime for growing bacteria that can cause a wide range of really nasty illnesses. The best way to cool your stock quickly is to pour it into mason jars and immerse them in an ice bath. If your stock is particularly flavorful or if you want to make a weaker stock, you can add ice directly into the stock. We prefer to cool in an ice bath and keep our stock concentrated.
How to Store Venison Stock Correctly
Once your stock is cooled, you can keep it in the refrigerator if you are going to use it within a week. Freezing stock is a great idea and it'll keep for at least six months and maybe as long as one year that way. You can use a pressure canner or a home canning recipe to store it for even longer.
A neat trick to freeze liquids like stock is to pour them into a ziplock bag and lay them flat on a silicon mat or a baking sheet in the freezer. When the liquid has frozen, you can remove the tray and stack the frozen liquid. Don't forget to write on the bag what the contents are and the date they were made. That way, you use the oldest ingredients first.
Turning Stock into Broth
You can always use your deer bone stock to make broth. Simply place the stock in a large pot and simmer until it is hot. Add vegetables like celery and onions along with salt to taste and simmer until reduced. This will give you the perfect broth for chicken noodle soup, french onion soup, or whatever other recipe you choose to make.
Venison Gravy Recipe
This is a simple way to make a tasty gravy using your stock. This is a great way to add tons of flavor to your gravy. It's also gluten-free, so everyone can enjoy.
- 2 cups venison stock
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tbsp Bearded Butcher Blend Seasoning Original
- 1/4 cup cold water
- 3 tbsp cornstarch (check labels to make sure it's gluten-free and not processed in a facility that also uses wheat)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- In a saucepan, bring the broth to a slow boil. Add seasonings to the broth.
- Whisk the cornstarch and water until fully combined.
- Slowly add the cornstarch mixture to the broth, whisking constantly.
- Cook the gravy until it is thick and reduced.
- Add salt and pepper if needed to taste.
Stock is a Basic Building Block
Making a stock from the bones of your deer, bear, elk, or other wild game is a great way to use everything. Making stock is a time consuming process that requires paying attention to the pot, but it isn't hard and doesn't require a ton of skill or ingredients. It is also easy to store stock for use when you need it. Stock is the basic building block to all the best soups, stews, sauces, and gravies, and it only makes sense to take advantage of bones left over to make a high-quality, nutritious, and delicious stock.
A tasty homemade wild game stock makes a great gift and is something unique to share with friends and family. People who don't hunt will still love the flavors and a good wild game stock is something that most people will never have access to unless hunters share their bounty.
A few things to remember when you make a stock from bones: the more meat and fat you have on the bones, the more flavor, but you'll also need to remove the fat from the top. This is best done when the stock cools. You can scoop it off the surface with a spoon. It's best to throw it out when making wild game stock since the fat usually has an unpleasant flavor.
Have fun experimenting with the way different types of stock make flavor for your meals. You'll find that wild game stock makes a thick and delicious gravy and it'll take simple recipes like French Onion Soup to a whole new level.
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