Beef stock is at the heart of many comfort foods. I’m thinking of minestrone and french onion soup as starters, and heading onward to ossobuco, which is what prompted my obsession with meat broth this weekend. I couldn’t wait to make a perfectly tender veal shankand off off to market I went. I came home with beautiful marrow bones from a sustainable, local farmer, a few bones from Whole Foods,i including a veal bone.
I was so pleased with my chicken broth recipe from Ad Hoc at Home, by Thomas Keller, that I consulted the book again. The main differences are that the bones are roasted, most of the grease isrendered before it hits the water and the simmer time is more than five times longer, a full five hours. Your smoke alarms may go off, but your house will smell incredible. Add to this, a pan full of roasted, caramelized vegetables, and you know this is not the canned broth you pick up at the store.
Ten Tips for Making Beef Stock
1. Ask your healthy local farmers for meat bones and strike marrow gold.
2. Roast the bones until the smoke alarms go off. Drain grease periodically.
3. Start your broth with COLD water, bringing the heat up SLOWLY.
4. Use salt from the beginning, but carefully, as stock concentrates, so does the salt.**
5. Never abandon your broth in the first hour of simmering as you need to skim the scum repeatedly. However, with roasted bones, you will not see a lot of fat.
6. Never boil your broth (it will turn cloudy); only bring to a simmer.
7. Be prepared for a good five hours of simmering.
8. Caramelize your vegetables by roasting them first.
9. Never pour your broth when straining; ladle to avoid bottom sediment.
10. Don’t squeeze vegetables for broth; may turn broth cloudy.
**Note: there were a few comments about salt and the concern for over salting. It’s a good point and care must be taken to consider the reduction. I still like to salt from the beginning, at least a touch. Due to this caution, I tend to make an under-salted stock.
Eleven bones purchased from local farmer and Whole Foods.
Roast bones, draining grease every 15 minutes. Watch out for your smoke alarm.
I ended up with a lot more broth than I needed for my recipe, and way more than my one silicone cupcake pan would hold for freezing. Improvising, I took a baking pan, placed it in the freezer and used plastic sundae dishes and plastic glasses to freeze the stock. The next day, I simply rested the bottoms in hot water for a few minutes and they slipped right out and into plastic bags. I’m not going to make stock for five hours if I don’t get at least three special meals from it. This makes “made from scratch” sensible.
- 5-6 pounds of beef, veal bones
- tin can at the ready to drain grease.
- 4 quarts cold water
- 2 Spanish onions quartered, divided (1½ chopped, ½ charred)
- 3 bay leafs
- 1 leek, sliced lengthwise, cut in one-inch pieces
- 2 large carrots, peeled, cut into 1 inch pieces
- several sprigs, fresh thyme
- ¼ cup peppercorns (my addition)
- sea salt, pepper
- Rinse soup bones thoroughly. Some bones may have meat attached, and you may want to make a vegetable beef soup, reserving that meat.
- Roast in hot oven at 425 on flat baking sheet. Roast until all the fat is rendered, meat is cooked. Discard rendered fat.
- Put roasted bones in large pot, cover with cold water, just enough to cover the bones. Add one small onion, that has been charred in frying pan. Bring to strong simmer, skim any fat that may appear. Simmer for five hours.
- Caramelize leeks, remaining onions, carrots by roasting at 400 for 20-30 minutes.
- Add to broth, simmer for 40 minutes. Turn off heat, rest for 10 minutes.
- Strain broth. Set in ice bath to cool. Refrigerate for up to 3 days. Freeze for up to two months.
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