Beef (well, and chicken as well, but beef is on my mind).
I’ve tried the whole roasting the bones first, roasting the veggies (onion / carrot / celery), simmering for hours, etc., and have NEVER gotten anything that turned any kind of rich brown color or had any significant real flavor that would stand on its own in other recipes.
Now, the main thing I use it for is homemade veggie beef soup (instructions below for those interested) so its lack of flavor hasn’t been a huge issue, but still… it SHOULD be possible to make tasty stock from scratch.
What I do: Add bones - the kind with a bit of meat clinging to it (preferably roasted in the oven first to get nice and brown), 3-4 onions, 3-4 carrots, a few stalks of celery, a handful of peppercorns, a couple of bay leaves - to a large soup pot, fill 2/3 full with water, bring to a simmer, and let that go as many hours as possible. Strain, cool, and defat.
When making soup (i.e. always), after the straining step I add cut up stewing beef with most of the visible fat removed (sometimes I’ll simmer that separately, then pour the resulting liquid into the pot while discarding the solid fatty chunks). Then I’ll put that into the fridge overnight to cool so I can remove virtually all the fat.
But even with that, the liquid has no great taste.
What am I doing wrong? Do I need to dump a lot of salt into it or something? (not that I like doing THAT for a number of reasons)…
As far as the veggie beef soup itself goes:
Couple of soup bones
Onions / carrots / celery
1 teaspoon (roughly, i don’t measure carefully) whole peppercorns
2 bay leaves
2-3 pounds not-too-fatty stew beef (or other beef if the store is out which they seem to be most of the time), cut into soup-able chunks.
1/4 to 1/2 head of cabbage, chopped into soup-able chunks or shredded.
2 1-pound bags of frozen veggies of whatever sort please you (I usually get one bag “ranchero fiesta” and one bag generic peas/carrots/corn/lima/green beans). For something like this it’s silly to go through the trouble of chopping a lot of fresh veggies.
A cup or so of uncooked barley depending on how thick you like your soup (I like mine thick enough that even a sinner could walk on it).
2-3 29-ounce cans of tomatoes: whole or diced.
Make stock as described above, with beef, then chill overnight and defat it.
Put into your biggest soup pot, add cabbage and simmer for a couple hours until cabbage is soft.
Add tomatoes and simmer for an hour or so.
Add frozen veggies and simmer for an hour or so.
Add barley (I don’t measure, just usually throw in a handful or so til it looks right) and simmer until barley is soft.
Taste, and add salt as needed (usually a teaspoon or so).
This is basically my mother’s recipe, though she wasn’t as diligent about the defatting and she sometimes threw in a couple of bouillon cubes for extra flavor.