For several years now, whenever I would roast a chicken, I would either stash the carcass away in my freezer, or deposit it directly into my soup pot. Last Thanksgiving, the turkey bones were turned into stock for my parents, and just last week, the leftover carcass from a turkey breast became stock (same recipe as chicken stock).
And yet, I’d never made beef stock before. So, I picked up some marrow bones and beef soup bones from the butcher (these are seriously inexpensive), waited for a cool day (it froze this weekend! Twice!), and got to work.
First, I have to admit, that I’m not sure I want to do this again. Don’t get me wrong, it’s incredibly easy to make your own stock, but whereas chicken stock smells divine, beef stock…does not. It kind of reminded me of McDonald’s, minus the fries. And since I’m the “one” in four whose first job was at McDonald’s, I can attest that the smell isn’t all that pleasant (I had to shower after every shift to get the grease smell out).
So with my condo smelling like a fast food restaurant, I lit a candle in each room and simmered a pot of water with a teabag of mulling spices.
The next day, convinced I would never make beef stock again, I pulled my bowl out of the fridge to divide the stock among containers. As soon as I lifted the fat off (in one scoop! – much quicker than poultry stock) and saw the beef stock jiggle, I immediately changed my mind. I LOVE when I get a nice gelatinous stock, because that means that the healthful gelatin in the bones was extracted. Plus, the addition of the vinegar helps to pull calcium out of the bones and into the stock. Store-bought stock just can’t compare.
I guess I’ll keep making beef stock, after all.
But I might have to get another freezer for all of my stocks and soups…
3 beef marrow bones (femur bones, each cut about 4 inches long)
1-2 pounds beef soup bones
2 carrots, cut into 3-inch pieces
2 stalks celery, cut into 3-inch pieces
1 large yellow onion (or 2 medium), cut in half (no need to peel)
1 bulb garlic, cut in half horizontally
a few sprigs of thyme
several sprigs of parsley
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
salt to taste
1 large pot or Dutch oven
roasting pan or large ovenproof sauté pan
Preheat oven to 425*F.
Spread bones out in pan and roast for 40 minutes until well-browned, flipping halfway through. Remove bones to pot, set aside. Add about a half cup of water to your roasting pan and deglaze the pan on medium heat, scraping up the brown bits with a heat-proof spatula, add the water mixture to the soup pot.
Add carrots, celery, onion, garlic, prunes, thyme, parsley, and bay leaves to soup pot. Fill the pot with water to about an inch or so above the bones (in my case, I filled it pretty much to the top). Add peppercorns and heat over very low temperature so it’s just at a simmer. You’ll see a couple of stray bubbles; do NOT let the stock come to a boil, or the finished stock will be cloudy. Cook for 12-14 hours, adding water if needed partway through. Periodically skim the scum and fat off the top into a bowl (refrigerate the fat while making the stock – it will make cleanup easier in the end).
You’ll want to finish with your pot slightly more than half full. (Adjust salt to your taste.) Remove from heat and allow to cool. Using a slotted spoon, remove the bones and as many of the solids as you can. (Tip: use a double plastic grocery/discount store bag to put the solids and refrigerated fat into for easy cleanup – just tie the bag tightly and throw it in the garbage.) Pour the stock through a sieve into a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight.
The next day, remove the layer of fat on the top of the stock (you can save the fat, if you wish, for cooking or seasoning a cast iron pan). Transfer stock to containers or mason jars to refrigerate up to 4 days or freeze.