Long before I discovered the Weston A Price folks, a friend had told me about the health benefits of broth stock. I listened, looked at various sites on the internet and decided it was just too much trouble. Well, that's not the total truth, I was scared. I didn't understand what they meant when they said bones had to be browned. All I could see was trying to brown bones in a frying pan -- and that vision never came out well. Bones weren't flat or even - how did you get them to brown. It didn't occur to me that you could just put them in the oven and they would brown -- all by themselves. Also, I wasn't sure which ones needed to be browned. Now, I know - you brown the bones that have meat on them or any other meat you are putting in the stock.
Like most things we are afraid we'll screw up, beef broth was one of those things I put off, avoided, bought when I needed it.
Then I began to explore nutrient dense cooking and realized that the stocks I'd bought in the store were probably on the low nutrient dense scale, while what I could make at home was at the top of the real food nutrition charts with respect to health benefits.
Here's what Sally Fallon Morell says about stocks in her Nourishing Traditions cookbook. (If you don't have this book and want the "cooking bible" for nutrient dense cooking, this is it.) You can order it from Powells by clicking on the graphic to the right of this post (and yes I receive a small percentage of the order if you click through my site. It's one of the ways I am financing my blog.)
Properly prepared, meat stocks are extremely nutritious, containing the minerals of bone, cartilage, marrow and vegetables as electrolytes, a form that is easy to assimilate. Acidic wine or vinegar added during the cooking helps to draw minerals, particularly calcium, magnesium and potassium, into the broth. Dr. Francis Pottenger, author of the famous cat studies as well as articles on the benefits of gelatin in broth, taught that the stockpot was the most important piece of equipment to have in one's kitchen. Nourishing Traditions, Sally Fallon Morrell
So, I bought bones - knuckle bones, neck bones with meat on them, ligaments, and even some osso bucco to use for meaty bones, too. I bought them frozen from Dey Dey Beef and knew that these bones came from cows that had been raised 100% on pasture. When I came home I was determined to make stock. I put the bones in the freezer and that's where they stayed. Every time I looked at the bones, the whole task was daunting, so I put it off.
About a month and a half ago, I got up my courage to make chicken stock. I think I cooked it too long. (Chicken stock probably should be cooked about 24 hours, while beef broth stock probably can go about 36 or more hours.) And it was tasty, however, making chicken broth will be the subject of another post.) The good news about these broths is that it's hard to mess them up.
In the last week, I summoned all my courage, and armed with a new 5 gallon stainless steel stock pot which I needed to devirginize, so to speak, I began my adventure with beef bone broth.
As a student and intern and sometimes consultant (writing, web site and blog oriented) to Culture Club 101, I have had the benefit of watching Elaina make stock several times. By the way, she has delicious beef, chicken and sometimes fish stock available for her members so if you are in the Southern California area, and you don't have the time or inclination to make your own stock, you might want to check her out. She's so patient with her interns and students and all of our questions. Seems like I always have a new question to ask and she always seems to have the answer.
Enough of my tangents, here's my step by step recipe for beef stock?
Step 1. Obtain ingredients - bones, veggies if you want them.
Bones include knuckle bones, neck bones, ligaments and beefy bones like osso bucco or beef ribs. You can also put in beef stew meat for more flavor. Remember, look for grass fed beef and grass-finished beef.
Veggies. Celery, parsley, onions, carrots ....
Spices. Thyme, crushed peppercorns
Apple Cider Vinegar - (you want unfiltered vinegar with mother in it -- Bragg is one of the best)
Step 2. Put the knuckle bones and ligaments in cold water and about 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar and soak for an hour or so.
Step 3. Put the meaty bones (neck bones, bones with any meat on them, and beef stew meat) in a roasting pan in the oven at 350 degrees. If for any reason you don't have a roasting pan, I put mine in the oven in a very large cast iron frying pan. Let brown for about an hour.
Step 4. Pour fat off the meaty bones and add them to the stockpot. You can also put some water in the roasting pan and bring to a boil to loosen the browned goodies and put that in the stockpot as well.
Step 5. Pour in cold water to within 1-2 inches of the top of your pot (keeping in mind the amount of bones that you have) and bring to a boil. Let boil for a few minutes till scum forms on the top.
Step 6. Skim the scum that forms on the top of the stock. Lots of recipes tell you to add the veggies at this point. Elaina recommends that you wait till you've gotten all the scum skimmed away and then add the veggies. Makes this step much easier.
Step 7. Add veggies and spices. Except parsley. That goes in at the end. Chop the celery, onions, and carrots into chunks (no fine chopping needed here).
Step 8. Allow the stock to simmer for 12 to up to 72 hours. I let mine go about 36. Sally Fallon says it can go up to 72. Add Parsley during the last 10 minutes.
Step 9. Let it cool some.
Step 10. Stain all the bones and veggies out of it and refrigerate.
Step 11. Remove the fat and freeze to keep for longer than a week. In the refrigerator the fat will solidify and come to the top. Remove that - you can use it for other things. Freeze that which you will not use within the next week. I have started freezing in mason jars, but remember that you if you freeze in glass you need expansion room.
Step 12. Make soup or just drink the heated broth as a winter warm-up.
Later I was at Elaina's making beef stock and took these photos of the different kinds of bones for those of us who aren't sure which ones are which. For example, there are many different looks to knuckle bones -- as you might imagine. Here are 3 different shots of knuckle bones.
And then there are marrow bones -- these are thin sliced and give a very good view of both the bone and the marrow inside.
Meaty Bones. The ones below are rib bones. Neck bones are also considered meaty bones as is Osso Bucco.