Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Beef Stock - Tradition with Cooking

A while back I did a post on how to make chicken broth and I had meant to also soon after do a post on beef broth/stock, but time has gotten away from me and other posts snuck their way in instead.

One thing I thought I should mention is the difference between broth and stock. The base for both broth and stock are the same, which is water, carrots, celery and onions along with any herbs you may wish to add. For stock you are going to add a large portion of bones and some meat and allow the stock to simmer for a min. of 12 hours up to about 3 days (at least in the case of beef stock). The long cooking time allows for all of the gelatin in the bones to disintegrate and add a lot of extra flavor to your stock. In the case of broth, you are going to add a greater portion of meat, like in the case of chicken broth you add a whole chicken. Broth can cook for much less time, although if you can allow it to simmer up to 12-24 hours, do so, again for the extra flavor and nutrition.

In the home kitchen, broth and stock are often considered interchangeable and that's how I treat them in my kitchen. Frankly for me it comes down to what I have on hand. I don't tend to keep both around because of lack of space in my deep freeze. A chef at a restaurant may argue with you that you can't interchange them and perhaps in the case of a restaurant that would be true, but how many of us are running restaurants out of our kitchens? (-:

When making beef stock, get the best bones you can, preferably from organic grass-fed cows. I was talking to my meat farmer and she was telling me how her sister always had to skim her stock once it started simmering to get all of the scum off of the top. She never understood this because when she made stock there was no scum or at least very little. Then one day she made stock with meat and bones from a supermarket cow. She said her stock had over 2" of scum on top!!! YUCK! Then she understood what her sister was talking about. With that in mind, I'm not sure I'll ever use non-organic meat/bones for broth, but I've always had a bit of a hard time using that type of meat anyways. Have you ever seen what they do to animals at large meat farms? All I'll say is it's very, very sad the way people take care of animals. Of course not all mega farms are bad, but enough are.

Now on to the recipe... This stock recipe is from Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon and can be found on page 122. I'd like to mention that as you read this recipe you'll see that you are supposed to brown the meaty bones in the oven. I have to say that I don't normally do this, one I don't always have time and two I buy a bag of bones from my meat farmer and what's in it, is what's in it. Rarely is there real meaty bones. The benefit of using meatier bones and browning them is they impart more flavor to the stock. I also don't usually add fresh thyme, unless it's summer and I have it growing in my herb garden. When I'm on a really tight budget, I don't want to spend the extra $3-$4 dollars to buy it. The same goes for the meatier bones, they cost more and I can't always justify the expense. What I most care about is getting a healthy stock and even with omitting some of the ingredients it still tastes wonderful.

What You'll Need:
  • About 4lbs beef marrow and knuckle bones
  • 1 calves foot, cut into pieces (optional)
  • 3 pounds meaty rib or neck bones
  • 4 or more quarts of cold filtered water
  • 1/2 cups vinegar
  • 3 onions, coarsely chopped
  • 3 celery sticks, coarsely chopped
  • several sprigs of fresh thyme, tied together
  • 1 tsp. dried green peppercorns, crushed
  • 1 bunch of parsley
  • Large stock pot - 6 quarts or larger
  • Mesh strainer
  • Roasting pan
  • Wooden spoon
  • Large bowl to hold all stock in
  • Storage containers

Getting Started

1. Place your marrow and knuckle bones into your stock pot along with the vinegar and cover with water. Allow to sit for about an hour.

2. While your marrow and knuckle bones are soaking, place your meaty rib and neck bones in the roasting pan and roast them at 350 degrees until they've browned.

3. Add the browned bones to the stock pot along with your carrots, onions and celery.

4. Remove the excess fat from the roasting pan than add a couple cups of cold water to the roasting pan. Set roasting pan over high heat on the stove and bring water to a boil. Using a wooden spoon loosen up everything that may have stuck to the bottom of the pan then add this liquid to your stock pot.

5. Over high heat, bring liquid in stock pot to a boil. Using a spoon, skim off any scum that may come to the top, then reduce your heat to low and add your thyme and crushed peppercorns.
6. Simmer stock for at least 12 hours and as long as 72 hours. Add the parsley 10 minutes before your stock is done. This will impart extra minerals.

Note: If you can, always try to simmer the stock for 72 hours. I'm always amazed at how much more flavorful the stock is the longer it simmers.

7. Allow the stock to cool then pour through a mesh strainer into a large bowl. This step filters out all of the small pieces of meat, veggies, etc.

8. Place the bowl of stock in the fridge until it's cold, then remove the congealed fat from the top. Once the stock is cool you'll notice that it is gelatinous – this is perfect and means the gelatin came out of the bones. Gelatin is very good for you.

The picture below shows what the fat in the stock looks like after it's been refrigerated. If you left all of that fat in your stock it would make whatever food you use your stock in very greasy and frankly this type of fat isn't very enjoyable to eat when it's in rice or soup. It kind of coats your mouth.

Now you're done and you have an excellent stock to use as you wish. Store what you won't use in a couple of days in your freezer.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.