Whether you choose beef, veal, lamb, pork or game, meat stocks are more flavorful when the bones and meat are browned before adding liquid. For a light stock, use bones that have some meat attached. For a richer stock, add a chunk of meat.
3 lbs. bones such as shin, shank, short rib, neck, knuckle, or oxtail, with some meat attached (saw large bones crosswise into 3-inch pieces)
2 lbs meat (optional)
2 large unpeeled yellow onions, thickly sliced
3 tbsp. vegetable oil
3 celery stalks, cut into 3-inch lengths
3 large unpeeled carrots, cut into 3-inch lengths
1 whole large leek, split lengthwise, rinsed, and cut into 3-inch lengths
2 large unpeeled parsnips, cut into 3-inch pieces
2 large turnips, quartered
4 or 5 sprigs fresh parsley, preferably the flat-leaf type
4 or 5 sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
1 tsp. black peppercorns
1/2 cup vinegar
4 quarts water
Preheat an oven to 450°.
Quickly rinse the bones and meat (if using) under cold running water. Place on a cutting surface and cut off and discard excess fat. Toss the bones, meat, and onions in the oil. Spread in a baking pan and roast in the oven, turning frequently, until lightly browned, about 50 minutes. Transfer to a stockpot.
Add enough cold water to the stockpot to cover the ingredients. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 6 minutes. Drain and discard the liquid and rise the bones, meat, and onions under running cold water. Drain again. Rinse the stockpot and add the drained bones, meat, and onions.
Add the remaining ingredients, including salt to taste. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, partially covered, until the stock is richly flavored, 5 to 8 hours. Use a slotted spoon or wire utensil to skim the surface to remove any foamy scum during the early stages of cooking; do not stir. During the last hour of cooking add salt to taste and remove the cover. Remove from heat and cool for a few minutes.
Strain the stock into a large bowl through a colander or sieve lined with several layers of dampened cheesecloth, pressing the vegetables to release all liquid. Discard the bones, meat, vegetables, and herbs. Refrigerate the warm stock, uncovered, until cold. Remove any fat that rises and solidifies on the surface. Reheat the stock and use immediately, or cover and refrigerate for up to 4 days, or freeze for up to 6 months. Reheat to boiling before using.
Makes about 2 to 3 quarts.