Thursday, October 24, 2013

How to Make Nutrient-Dense Homemade Beef Stock

How to Make Nutrient-Dense Beef Stock

When I started my real food cooking journey, the most indispensable technique I learned was how to make stocks and soup from scraps. Not only does it save you lots of money (boxed stocks and soups are $2+ a pop), but there is monumentally more flavor and nutrition when you make it from scratch. 

There's really no substitution for homemade stocks. Store brands are flavorless and often have a ton of sodium or added ingredients. To compensate, I always have to throw in a ton of seasonings to recipes using packaged stocks, which adds up after awhile in the winter months when I fix soups frequently.

But properly prepared meat and vegetable stocks? They're on a whole different level. Both are loaded with vitamins, minerals, gelatin and healthy fats, plus a rich flavor that serves to enhance and deepen the taste of cooked dishes.

Anytime a savory recipe calls for water, use b instead for a way tastier dish. My favorites are rice, beans, pastas and chili. I like to make a large batch of stock that simmers overnight, then cool it and portion into 2 cup servings in the freezer. That way they're in small enough servings that I can thaw them quickly in some cool water or the fridge.

Beef stock is especially delicious used in beef stew, pot roast, cottage pie, Shepard's pie, chili...and the list goes on.   

How to Make Homemade Beef Stock
Learn how to make a nutrient-dense homemade beef stock that will add extra flavor, vitamins and minerals to cooked dishes while also saving you money when compared to the bland and sodium-laden store-bought versions.
Adapted from Emeril Lagasse's Beef Stock recipe via 
Yield: approximately 8 cups of jelled stock (after refrigerating)

3 lbs of assorted beef bones with bits of beef stuck to them, roasted*
1/4 cup of organic apple cider vinegar (I recommend this brand)
purified water
2 whole onions**
2 large carrots
2 celery stalks 
3-4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2 bay leaves
1-2 teaspoons of whole peppercorns
1/2-1 cup of chopped stew meat (optional, but adds extra beef flavor)

*If you already have cooked beef bones leftover from other dishes, you can use these instead and skip the roasting step.

**If you've saved assorted veggie scraps in the freezer you can sub 2-4 cups of those instead of the fresh onion, carrots and celery. (That's what I usually do.)

Recommended Equipment
large rimmed baking sheet (these are the work horses of my kitchen)
Stainless Steel Stock Pot, enameled cast-iron dutch oven or Slow-Cooker
Colander/Strainer (this one is collapsible silicone)

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. Spread the beef bones out on a large rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan (make sure it has a rim). Bake for 30 minutes, then flip the bones and bake for another 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool completely. 

When the bones are cool, place them in the bottom of a heavy bottomed stock pot or dutch oven. Pour the apple cider vinegar onto the baking sheet and scrap up all the roasted beefy bits (called fond) on the bottom of the sheet. Pour the fond into the pot and then fill 3/4 (or a little higher) with purified water. Let the bones sit in the water (don't turn on the heat) for 60 minutes. This allows the vinegar to pull minerals from the bones into the water. This is very important step! Read more about it here.

After soaking, turn on the heat and bring the water to a simmer. Scrape off any initial scum that rises and then add in the chopped veggies (or veggie scraps), peppercorns, bay leaves and chopped beef.

Cover with a lid and cook on low (avoid letting it come to a rolling boil) for 12-48 hours. I usually cook mine for 24-36 hours, but the longer you cook it the more nutrient-dense the broth becomes. 

Strain the broth through a colander and/or cheesecloth and cool. Portion into smaller servings and freeze for later use in soups, sauces, stews, cottage pie, pastas, rices, beans and other assorted dishes.

Notes & Tips
If may depend on what type of bones you use, but beef stock typically gels up once it's cold. Once my stock has cooled, I stick it in the fridge overnight and scrape off the top layer of fat and the rest is gel. This will, of course, turn back mineral rich liquid once it's heated. 

You can usually ask the butcher for beef bones (they should be fairly inexpensive), or they may be in the frozen meat section. If you can, get a mix of beef bones and try to nab a few with exposed marrow for extra nutritional benefits.

You can use the same bones to make a second or even third batch of bone broth. Each subsequent batch is weaker; however it still has nutrients in it. I recommend discarding the veggies and starting with fresh (or frozen scraps) each time.

Recipe Ideas Using Homemade Beef Stock:

Question for Discussion: What's your favorite dish to cook with beef stock?

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