I’ve told you before, I’m a bit nuts about making broth. I wasn’t always that way but just kind of evolved, as I shared in my chicken stock post. I am just as nuts about beef stock as I am about chicken, except maybe a bit more even since it took me longer to be successful making the beef broth. When I was dating my husband, he had me over to his house and made us a wonderful T-bone steak dinner. To his surprise, I objected to him throwing away those meaty T-bones when we were done with them. He found it quite odd, actually (this would be the first time of many), I don’t think anyone else he’d dated had ever cared about the beef bones. This is the man that still believes that Beef = Love!
A few posts ago I made chicken stock, and this week I made beef stock. Beef stock is not hard to make either, but has an extra step in it and can take longer to make. It is not actively time consuming though, although it could be sitting on your stove for a few days. However you can make it in a large crock pot / slow cooker to make the process even easier.
Homemade vs Store Bought? No Contest!
I would say that it’s very worth making your own beef stock. There is such a huge difference between the beef stock that you can buy, and the stock that you make, it’s not even funny. And when you cook it for a few days, some of the bones end up soft and all of those minerals go into the broth. It can be intensely satisfying to drink just a cup of broth, especially if your body is low on minerals. Times when I’ve felt run down especially in the winter I’ve made beef stock instead of taking vitamins. I’ve found that my body seems to respond to ‘food vitamins’ better, which I guess makes sense since that’s how we were made to take in our vitamins. Beef broth is a great way to manage afternoon hunger between lunch and dinner and a great alternative to coffee if you’re trying to kick the caffeine habit.
People that don’t typically eat a lot of beef will potentially do really well with a bit of meat in beef stock, or just beef broth alone. All of the minerals and gelatin in the stock help the body digest meat more efficiently. It’s a great thing for those that are vegetarians that are trying to start back on an omnivore’s diet.
General Tips for Making Beef Broth
The first time I made beef stock, it wasn’t very good and didn’t become brown enough, but was an insipid beige color. The second time I made it, it didn’t gell, but it tasted good. It’s amazing that I tried again, but I guess it made success all the more sweet. Here are some tips to increase your success.
- Try to use several types of bones. These can be bought from your butcher pretty cheaply. Grass-fed beef is better, but don’t stress too much about it, better to get the basics down first.
- always brown your meaty bones really well on both sides before putting them into the pot. This step is the most important.
- throw any leftover meat in the pot, or save to cut up and put in soup. If you cook it into the stock, you won’t be able to eat it in the soup, because all of the flavor will be simmered out of it. I guess some recipes it could work ok using the meat, say in something highly spiced like enchiladas.
- Save bits of meat in a bag in the freezer to add to the stockpot. Label your bag though so you know what it is for!
- My husband hates this one, but don’t give your dogs your beef bones until you’re done making broth out of them. Only give the dogs the bones that are still hard when they come out of the broth, none of the really soft ones.
- Do NOT skip the vinegar step, it draws the minerals out of the bones
- Freeze your carrot, garlic, onion and celery trimmings in a bag, and add to the pot
- Let the pot sit for longer than you think is possible, it will be fine over 2 or even 3 days. Turn the stove off at night if you want and then turn it back on in the morning. If you don’t lift the lid, it will still be at a good temperature in the morning unless your house gets really cold at night (under 60 degrees).
- If you don’t like the flavor of your broth, don’t worry, just simmer it longer, maybe leaving the lid off if it’s too pale. Once it reduces, you can see what the flavor is really like and then add some celtic sea salt to bring out the flavors.
Tips for Making Beef Stock in a Crock Pot / Slow Cooker
- Crock Pot / Slow Cooker broth is often a great way to make beef broth since it takes so long to cook. Use the biggest crock pot you have… I have a 8 1/2 quart crock pot and use about 3 pounds of bones.
- Don’t overfill crock pot with water since it won’t evaporate as quickly as with a stockpot. Make sure the lid is weighted down and that simmering can’t move the lid around or you will have water everywhere.
- Put the crock pot on high until it gets going then low is fine. You could even have multiple crock pots going with broth.
- Make sure to put a variety of beef bones in each crock pot (roasted meaty and non meaty). When I make beef broth in the crock pot sometimes I only put in bones, and no other ingredients (carrot, onion).
- Optional: After 2-3 days drain off the stock (strain it), throw in a few more roasted bones (for color) and water, and reuse your ‘hard’ bones.
Grass-Fed Beef Stock
Rating: 4 forks (key)
Even my husband who dislikes soups and stews eats this broth in things and likes it, especially gravy
Moderate – takes practice and patience
Page in NT: 122
- Chef’s Knife
- Fine strainer
- Stockpot or Crock Pot / Slow Cooker
- Quart size mason jars
- Large jelly roll sheet (it must have sides) or roasting pan
- 4 pounds of beef marrow, knuckle bones, bits of leftover beef
- 3 pounds meaty rib or neck bones
- 4 or more quarts cold water
- 1/4 cup vinegar (See Resources)
- 3 onions, coarsely chopped (or your bag of collected frozen onion parts)
- 3 carrots coarsely chopped (I omit this sometimes)
- 3 celery sticks, coarsely chopped (I omit this if I don’t have celery)
- celtic sea salt – optional – only after broth is completed (See Resources)
- Place all of your bones that have meaty bits on them on a large cookie sheet (with sides) or roasting pan and brown in the oven at 350 degrees until well-browned (30-60 minutes usually).
- Meanwhile, throw all of your non-meaty marrow bones into a stockpot, add the water, vinegar and vegetables. Let sit while the other bones are browning.
- Add the browned bones to the pot, deglaze your roasting pan with hot water and get up all of the brown bits, pour this liquid into the pot. Add additional water if needed to cover the bones.
- Bring to a boil and remove the scum/foam that rises to the top. No need to remove the floating fat. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for at least 12 hours and as long as 72 hours. The longer you cook the stock, the more rich and flavorful it will be.
- After a 2-3 hours you will want to ‘rescue’ any of the meat you need for recipes or marrow that you’d like to eat. Using tongs find your marrow bones, pop out the marrow with a small knife and return the bone to the pot.
- After you simmer for 12-72 hours, Sally Fallon now says this in the recipe in Nourishing Traditions which I love because it’s so true:
“You will now have a pot of rather repulsive-looking brown liquid containing globs of gelantinous and fatty material. It doesn’t even smell particularly good. But don’t despair. After straining you will have a delicious and nourishing clear broth that forms the basis for many other recipes in this book.“
Remove the bones with a slotted spoon and/or tongs. Strain the stock into a large bowl, then ladle into wide mouth mason jars. Let the jars sit until they are pretty cool, then freeze or refrigerate. You can remove the congealed fat after refrigerating or even freezing, if you want to reduce it a step.
NOTE: Don’t forget to save the marrow from the bones too for a few recipes in the book!
Variation: this same technique can be used to prepare lamb or venison stock.
Photo courtesy of islandvittles on Flickr
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