Meat stock has long been a staple of the human diet. It’s a constant in the kitchens of peasants and top chefs alike, acting in a thousands-of-years-old partnership with these culinary explorers as a nutritious, flavorful base for soups, sauces and braising liquids.
Slow cook your beef stock ingredients for hours to get a rich, meaty broth good for soups, stews and braising.
Meat stock fits into the Ski Bum Kitchen pantry list for its nutritional value and affordability. The salubrious punch that homemade stock packs for its dollar proves an undeniably high return. Bones from the grocery store average around $2.50 per pound, and it takes about four pounds of bones to produce 3 quarts of concentrated stock. If you’re a hunter, or have friends who are, your stock bones clock in at an even lower rate. If you’re an ambitious local food junkie, you’ll likely find it easy to connect to a butcher who will probably be able to supply you with your needed ingredients cheaply.
Ask your butcher (or a friend who hunts) for good bones. They are the basis for a rich beef stock.
Stock is best made from raw bones and connective tissues. Raw bones and the marrow they contain are packed with calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and trace minerals. If you choose to and can afford to make your stock with a little brisket, knuckle bones, feet and other collagen and gelatin-rich connective tissue powerhouses, you’ll add a whole slew of nourishing, muscle-building and detoxifying amino acids to your cooking.
So, where’s the beef? Food-derived vitamins are easy for your body to absorb, so forget those store-bought, laboratory-manufactured mineral supplements, and focus on nurturing your body through its evolutionary resource — food. The collagen and gelatin present in a homemade beef stock will make your skin, hair, nails and cellulite look better as said nutrients also nourish your joints to best health, performance and capacity.
Char the onions and other vegetables for a rich, deep flavor.
As for its culinary uses, drink a cup of stock to supplement you on a baseline level while in the trenches of a horrible stomach virus. If you’re in the middle of a liquid cleanse, enjoy a cup to keep your energy levels from crashing. Use stock to flavor slow cooks of meat, to create delicious accompanying sauces to any dish, or as a base for affordable soups, from split pea and bean chili to Vietnamese pho.
I’ve been on a big Vietnamese kick lately, so I chose a to make a Vietnamese-style beef stock. The subtlety of flavors translates beautifully into brothy, rice noodle soups, one of my go-to, easy and satisfying post ski tour meals.
Ginger and lemongrass add an Asian flavor to homemade stock.
I made the following recipe with raw beef bones from the Jackson Whole Grocer. My ski bum budget finds me pretty lacking in funds per my recently completed off-season travels, so I chose not to make this stock with any oxtail, knuckle bones, brisket or tenderloin. If you can afford those ingredients, however, I encourage you to purchase them, as they are full of nourishing, glycine-filled connective tissue that will dissolve into your stock, keeping you and your family’s bodies healthy and happy.
Ski Bum Kitchen — Beef Stock
- Yield: 3 quarts stock
- 2 pounds beef bones (knuckle bones and femur bones, double this amount if not using optional meats)
- 8 oounces beef brisket or oxtail
- 8 ounces beef tenderloin
- 1 large yellow onion, lightly charred (see directions)
- 5 whole cloves or one teaspoon of ground cloves
- 4 oounces fresh ginger, lightly charred (see directions)
- 1/2 a clove of garlic (or more if you’re a huge garlic fan)
- 1 stalk lemongrass, cut up into 3 inch pieces
- 5 star anise
- 1 cinnamon stick, around 2 to 3 inches
- 1 teaspoon whole white or black peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon fennel seed
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 tablespoon coarse sea salt (add more or less to taste)
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar or fresh lime juice
- 5 quarts water
- You will need:
- A large, at least 7 quart cooking pot
- An open fireplace or a grill (to char your onion and ginger)
- Containers for 3 quarts of finished stock
- Begin by blanching your bones. This process helps to remove any impurities, bone chips, and blood particles from your stock bones.
- Put your bones into your stock pot, cover them with cold water and bring them to a boil.
- After 3 minutes, remove the pot from the heat, pour off the water, and rinse the bones.
- Place the bones back into the pot, add the brisket and/or oxtail and tenderloin, cover with 5 quarts of water, and bring to a boil over high heat.
- While your stock is heating up to a boil, char your onion and ginger over open flame (you can also do it in a 500 F oven). This process should take about 3 to 5 minutes, until the ginger begins to smell fragrant and the onion begins to soften. Remove both from the heat, let them cool a little, and then peel.
- Slice the onion in half, do the same with the ginger and set aside. This traditional Vietnamese cooking process helps to bring out the full flavor of the vegetables.
- When your pot of bones has reached a boil, reduce the heat to low, add all your spices plus the ginger, onion, garlic, and lemongrass.
- Add the apple cider vinegar. The purpose of adding this acidic component to your broth is that it helps to dissolve the minerals from inside of the bones and into your stock.
- Simmer, uncovered and undisturbed, until the broth has reduced by about two quarts, or about 3 hours. During those 3 hours, occasionally skim the light foam that will rise to the surface of the broth. Try not to let the stock boil, as a rolling boil will make your broth cloudy.
- After 3 hours, remove any brisket and tenderloin from the stock. Set aside to save for use in a later dish (like the delicious soup that you’re going to make from your stock!).
- The stock is now ready to use if you must (although it will certainly do better with as much simmer time as you’d like to give it, I’ve heard of people simmering stock up to 24 hours). I shoot for an all-day simmer, preferably 6 to 9 hours, to give the nutrients and flavors as much time as possible to leech out from the stock ingredients. Warning: if you choose to simmer overnight, make sure that you have ample water amounts in your pot, as an unmonitored cooking stock runs the risk of rewarding you with a pot full of bones and no water! Unless your house becomes really cold at night, you should be able to lid your stock, turn off the heat, and let it sit on the stove until early the next morning, when you can start the simmering process again.
- Whenever you decide your stock is finished, strain the stock and discard the solids (if the bones are not too soft, they can make excellent dog treats if you have a less-aggressive chewer).
- Let the stock cool, skim off as much fat as you desire. I keep the fat (in the refrigerator) for frying up delicious morning eggs.
- Use the stock according to the recipe of your choice.
- Stock will keep in the refrigerator for up to three days, or three months in the freezer. It’s fine to use glass to store your stock in the freezer, but leave room in the container for the liquid inside to expand as it freezes (or else it will crack). And don’t forget: large ice cube trays are an awesome way to store stock that you’ll be using for the occasional side sauce.