A good beef stock is a wonderful thing to have on hand. There’s nothing like a good beef stock to provide that beefy, hearty flavor in soups and casseroles. I also find that I get much more gelatin from my beef stock than I do from my chicken stock.
It’s always a good idea to use a variety of different bones/parts to make your stock. I like to use bones and meaty parts (beef shank or oxtail are my favorites). The bones provide most of the minerals, whereas the meaty parts give the stock a more full-bodied flavor. For the meaty parts, I use tough cuts of meat that require slow cooking, such as beef shank or oxtail. These cuts tend to have a lot of connective tissue, which provides the gelatin to make your stock gel! Marrow bones also help the stock to gel.
If you can get hold of some good meaty bones, then you’ve got it covered! But the bones I get are quite bony 🙂 so I always add either a piece of beef shank or a couple pieces of oxtail to provide the meaty flavor and the gelatin.
These are my bones!…well they’re not MY bones…but you know what I mean 🙂 I keep the bones in the freezer and then add them directly into the stock pot (no need to defrost them first). The top left bone has a nice chunk of marrow in it but no meat to speak of, whereas the other two bones have a little meat. All up, these bones weighed a little over 3 pounds. I then added a piece of beef shank that weighed about a pound. If you’re local to Sonoma County in California, I get my bones from Backyard CSA. They are a great resource for local, humanely raised food.
3-4 pounds beef bones (preferably from grass-fed, naturally raised cows)
1 pound beef shank or oxtail (optional, but good if your bones aren’t very meaty)
1 strip kelp/kombu (optional)*
1 piece of ginger (optional)**
3-4 tablespoons vinegar***
Selection of vegetables (I usually add celery and any other vegetable ends – carrot, onion, broccoli stalks etc are good)
*I always add a strip of kombu for the extra highly beneficial minerals that it provides (particularly iodine, which is helpful for the thyroid). By a strip, I mean a piece that is an inch or 2 wide and about 5-6 inches long.
**Ginger is great for digestion, so I add it to all of my stocks. I cut off a piece about an inch long, and slice a few cuts in it to allow more of the ginger to leach out. But don’t worry, it doesn’t make the stock taste like ginger!
***I use apple cider vinegar, but any kind of vinegar will do. I estimate that I use 3-4 tablespoons. The vinegar helps to leach the minerals out of the bones.
1) Place all stock ingredients in your slow cooker (needs to be at least 6 qt). I don’t bother roasting the bones in the oven first, but you could do this if you wanted to. Browning the bones is supposed to provide additional flavor.
Because beef stock can be simmered for a long time (up to 72 hours), I always use my crock pot so that I can safely leave it on through the night. Note: important to use a lead-free slow cooker, otherwise you might get lead leaching into your stock. The Hamilton Beach slow cookers (at least the one I have) are lead free.
2) Add enough cold filtered water to cover the bones, leaving an inch or so of space from the top of the bowl.
3) I set it for anywhere between 8-10 hours on LOW (keeping in mind what time it will finish – for example if I start it late in the day, I don’t want it to finish in the middle of the night!)
4) Once the first 8-10 hours is up, I then set it for another 8-10 hours, and so on. Beef stock can be simmered for up to 78 hours, although I typically do about 48 hours. Because the beef bones are so large and dense, a long cooking time is needed to break down the bones and leach out the minerals.
5) After the first 8-10 hours, remove any meat from the bones if you want to use that meat in other dishes. If the meat stays in too long it will become overcooked and tasteless. I throw the bones back in after I’ve removed the meat.
6) Once the cooking time is up, using tongs, remove all bones from the pot, then strain the stock through a fine mesh strainer into a large bowl. Be careful if the stock is still hot! If you’re lucky enough to have some marrow bones, the marrow with be the wobbly, jelly-like mass inside the bone that is just about falling out. Don’t throw it out! The marrow is incredibly nutritious and healing (especially for your gut) and I think it also tastes delicious! I always save it and add it to the soups I make.
7) At this point you may want to transfer the stock into storage containers for fridge/freezer, but I prefer to let the stock cool off and then I put the whole bowl in the fridge. I throw away the bones and vegetable scraps.
8. As you can see, my stock completely gelled! This means it is a very gelatin-rich stock. My stock also has a thick layer of fat. I throw most of the fat away because I don’t like the oiliness when I use the stock to make soup. But sometimes I’ll freeze some of the fat (tallow) to use for cooking.
What to do with you delicious beef stock?
1) I like to warm it up, add a little sea salt and drink it as my morning drink!
2) Use it in casseroles/stews instead of water (adds better flavor and better nutrition than water)
3) Use it to make soup of course! Here are some of my soups that use beef stock:
Thai Beef Coconut Soup
Tomato, Beef and Vegetable Soup
Asian Dumpling Soup
I hope you enjoy your beef stock!
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