Sunday, March 14, 2010

Beef Stock

I've never made beef stock before. I had some chain meat left over from one of my butchering odysseys and this being the week of St. Patty's Day, we wanted to make a good ole Irish Beef Stew. So I boiled the meat in water. But wait. Stock comes from bones. Crap. I put the meat water in the fridge for the night. Went to the store today to buy marrow bones. Behold:

Looks like a crime scene photo, no? So before I continue, I want to confess, I'm afraid of marrow. They serve it in fancy restaurants and people pay an arm and a leg for a $1.50 marrow bone just so they can scoop out the gelatinous iron-rich fat from the inside and spread it on crackers. It's literally the junk in the middle of the bone:

Do I have to say it? It does not appeal to me. I've been told it tastes like "beef jelly" and I don't really think that helped matters. But I got my marrow bones. And here we go....

  • Beef marrow bones (you can also include knuckles...ewh...and veal bones, oxtail, etc)
  • beef chunks or roast (preferably stew meat)
  • olive oil
  • onions, peeled & quartered
  • cut up carrots
  • handful of celery tops
  • garlic cloves
  • parsley
  • bay leaves
  • peppercorns
The amounts are up to you. There are exact recipes online if you wish, but who wants to paint by number? Add the things you like in the quantities you like.

Preheat oven to 400. Rub a little olive oil over stew meat pieces, carrots & onions. Place stock bones, stew meat or beef scraps, carrots & onions in a shallow roasting pan.
Roast in oven for about 45 minutes, turning the bones and meat once halfway through roasting, until nicely browned. If the bones begin to char, lower the heat. They should brown, not burn.
When the bones & meat are nicely browned, remove them & the veggies & place them in a large stock pot. Place the roasting pan on the stove top on low heat & deglaze with water or wine. Then, pour the water and browned bits into the pot.
Add the celery, garlic, parsley, bay leaves & peppercorns. Fill the pot with enough cold water so that it comes 1-2 inches over the top of the bones.
Put the heat on high, bring to a low simmer & then reduce the heat to low. Keep at a bare simmer, just barely bubbling. Cover loosely & let simmer for a minimum of 3 hours. 6-8 is better. The instructions I read said,
"Do not stir while stock is simmering - it will mix the fats with the stock and cloud up your stock."
Um. I'd never even thought to stress about my stock being cloudy. Ok, moving on. As the stock cooks, remove fat from the marrow at the top (now how do you do that without it stirring things up a bit?)
When the stock is ready, use tongs or a slotted spoon to gently remove bones and veggies from the pot. Then, it said,
"If there's any marrow left in the bones or floating on top, taste it - it's delicious!"
Fine. But I'm telling you it looked like booger soup with that marrow in there. Did it anyway. Scooped out just a little bit....and tasted it. Newsflash: it was god awful. Who are you people who like this stuff? I took another glob of the stuff and smeared it on a Triscuit and fed it to my husband saying, "here's something that a lot of people think is delicious". He ate it. Looked at me. No reaction. Apparently his cold has made it so he can't taste anything. Sigh. Oops, where was I?
Strain the broth through a fine sieve or cheesecloth. Cool to room temperature. Remove any excess fat from the top.
Now you have your own beef broth to store for all kinds of delicious things. Freeze it if you don't have any use for it immediately.
Oh, and give the bones to your dog. They go nuts for them. Just make sure you clean all the goo out first.

Delicious snack, or overpriced wad of bone fat? Let me know what you think.

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