When is the optimal time to add vegetables to a meat stock?

A great deal of recipes for making meat stocks recommend adding vegetables in the last hour of cooking. An even greater deal of recipes adds them at the beginning, together with the meat. I have done it both ways and find that latter approach produces more concentrated flavors. But I have also read arguments stating that the aroma of the vegetables is at the peak about one hour into cooking. Which school of thought do you belong to? Why? Would love to hear your observations.

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9 Comments

Meaghan F. April 30, 2015
It never even occurred to me not to add them at the beginning... I am trying HLA's half n' half method this weekend since my freezer "stock bags" are at capacity anyways. It sounds perfect.
 
Meaghan F. May 5, 2015
Tried it this weekend and it definitely produced a fresher flavor!! Did everything I usually do except I removed most of the cooked vegetables with one hour left and added fresh. I have a tendency to add too much salt to my stock, trying to compensate for the "musty" taste (for lack of a better word) of overcooked vegetables, but found I only needed a sprinkle for this batch. Great tip - thanks!!!
 
AntoniaJames April 28, 2015
Ruhlman says that the vegetables start to absorb the stock after 45 minutes, so he recommends - or at least at one point did - removing them then. If I have the time, I simmer the bones only for several hours, and then add the vegetables and herbs, putting the timer on for 45 minutes. I have found when making vegetable stocks that if you let them simmer for much longer than that, the stock can be somewhat bitter, so that's another reason for limiting the total time that the vegetables are in the stock. ;o)
 
QueenSashy April 28, 2015
I think it was the Ratio, need to check it out... He recommends between 45 minutes and an hour, and I get the logic, except that I am not sure that the flavor is equally strong as when you cook the veggies from the beginning. So I go back and forth between the two methods. Now that I asked the question, I see how what HLA practices makes a lot of sense...
 
Nancy April 28, 2015
agree with HLA practice. More notes:
1) good to bring bones (and meat, if using) to boil, skim froth, then add first vegetables.
2) when you think first vegetables are cooked out, strain broth and set veggies aside, return broth to pot, add new veggies. why? these veggies will have given their flavor & texture to the broth, and will have little visual/taste appeal. or use could puree them for use in soups/stews.
3) add more vegetables for second cooking. these will not collapse so much, and may be served with the broth, or set aside and served with other foods.
 
LE B. April 28, 2015
I think this is brilliant but I confess that I don't take the time to do this. I roast all my veggies (I follow Jacques Pepin's stock lessons), add them w/ the roasted bones; skim an hour or so before adding herbs/spices. keep skimming all the way through the ~ 2 day process. I make stock>> demiglace once a year, in large quantities (20-30 lb bones) which eventually gets chilled (big stockpots on the back porch in the winter at under 30 degrees days and nights)
de-fatted and cooked down to small amounts of demiglace, which take up much less precious freezer space and easily reconstitute to stock.
 
Susan W. April 28, 2015
I do exactly what HLA does. I make mine in a slow cooker and I always add two beef marrow bones in with my chicken backs and necks. I let it cook on low for 24 or more hours. I put half in with the bones and the other half 4-6 hours before the stock is finished along with thyme sprigs and a fresh bay leaf. It makes for a lovely gelatinous stock.
 
hardlikearmour April 28, 2015
I like a combination of both techniques (a bit over half in with the meat/bones and a bit under half in the last 45-60 minutes). My impression is you get a richer yet fresher result, if that makes sense.
 
QueenSashy April 28, 2015
It does make a lot of sense... I actually read about folks taking out the old veggies and adding new ones. But never tried it. Look forward to giving it a try!
 
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