Venison stock is great. It puts oft-cast aside bones, connective tissues, and small scraps to use and it boosts the moisture and flavor of wild game dishes without overpowering them the way beef or chicken stock can. Stock isn’t an exact science, sniff and sample it often while it cooks and feel free to tinker with these ingredients. Wildwood Grilling’s smoking pellet blend of maple, cherry, and hickory is perfect for browning up venison bones for this darker, richer stock that can be used in lieu of beef broth, e.g., for French onion soup.
Total Time: 6+ hours (cook time variable; minimum 5 hours)
Prep Time: 2 hours (1/2 hour prep, 1.5 hours clarifying and canning)
Cook Time: 4+ hours
Servings: 16 pints (2 gallons)
- 7 lb Venison Bones
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Coarse Kosher Salt
- 2 large Onions, quartered (optional: skins on)
- 2 red Shallots, halved (optional: skins on)
- 2 Leeks, dark green ends removed, halved
- 4-5 stalks Celery, halved
- 3 large Carrots (or ~36 baby carrots), peeled and halved
- 4 Garlic Cloves, peeled
- 8-10 sprigs fresh Thyme
- 4-6 Bay Leaves
- 5 Tbsp Tomato Paste
- Cracked Black Pepper, to taste
- Grey Salt (optional)
- Wood pellet-fired grill
- Wildwood Grilling Hardwood Pellets
- Large baking sheet
- Cutting board
- Twine (optional)
- Large stock pot with lid
- Fine mesh strainer
- Pyrex measuring cup
- Quart and/or pint-sized canning jars
Pronghorn has a strong – but delicious – flavor, which is why I decided to use this year’s pronghorn bones in this more flavorful stock. My whitetail deer bones went into a lighter, sweeter stock. Grey salt is ideal for post-simmer salt additions. It’s a little bit briny but not too strong and dissolves quickly.
- Start up your pellet-fired grill, with Wildwood Grilling pellets (maple, cherry, hickory blend) in the hopper. Let it run on the “smoke” setting for 5-10 minutes, then move it up to 375°F-425°F.
- Rinse the bones well with cool water and rinse off any residual plant matter, dirt, hair, etc. Place them on a baking sheet, and pour olive oil over the bones, using your hands to spread it over the entire surface. Sprinkle salt liberally on one side. Place the bones on the grill, avoiding overlap if possible. Let cook until the bones appear well browned, which should take 45-75 minutes.
- While the bones are browning, prep your vegetables by cleaning them and for larger items such as the onions, cutting them into halves or quarters.
- For an extra smoky flavor, you can set the vegetables on the grill for 10-15 minutes. I grill my leeks and carrots for about 10 minutes.
- Remove the items from the grill and transfer the bones to your stockpot, set veggies aside. Fill the pot with cold water until the bones are completely covered, and then an additional 1” or so of water.
- Bring the water to a low boil over medium-high to high heat. When a foamy layer accumulates on the water’s surface, skim it. Then reduce the heat to the lowest setting possible. Put the lid on when the liquid has calmed down and let bones simmer for at least 3-4 hours.
- If you plan to simmer the bones for 4 hours or less, you can add the vegetables and herbs right away. Bundle them in cheesecloth and tie the bundle up with natural twine; set the bundle directly in the water and let it all cook together. However, if you plan to cook them for longer – I simmer my bones overnight – you’re better off waiting until the last 2-3 hours of cooking before adding the greenery. Otherwise, it breaks down too much.
- After the bones and greenery have simmered together for at least 2 hours, turn off the stovetop heat. Use tongs to remove larger pieces – bones, vegetable chunks, etc. – then set your mesh strainer on top of your Pyrex measuring cup, and place a piece of cheesecloth on top of the strainer. Use the ladle to pour the liquid through the strainer and cheesecloth.
- If you want to add grey salt to your stock, add it to Pyrex measuring cup, to taste. Pour the strained, salted stock into lidded glass jars, leaving space at the top. Use immediately or freeze for several months.
*Keep a spray bottle of water handy in case of flare-ups.