I have been making my own beef and chicken broth for sometime now.
I love the idea of putting a soup together and knowing that I created and developed one of the main ingredients--the broth.
We have been buying our beef from an independent rancher in Pennsylvania for about 6 months now. The reason I chose him is because his cows are grass fed, kept on a rotating grazing schedule, hormone free (unless they become sick) and are not given any type of supplements to increase growth or milk production.
I am not a farmer or a rancher so I don't know all the big words and terms to use in describing his process other than to say, he keeps a clean living space for the cows, they are minimally "handled" and the beef taste very good.
When we place our order I try to get as many bones that I can freeze. These are not like the bones you get when you go to a grocer which are neatly cut, packaged and wrapped. These are every joint, rib, socket and such. My kids get a bit grossed out when the bones come in the front door. They are pretty raw looking---extra meat and some blood.
It is great for homeschooling because we can try to "match up" the bones to where they belong on the cow.
I prepackage the bones in ziplock baggies and store them in my upstair freezer. The night before I take them out to thaw. This allows me to roast them in the morning and get the broth started early in the day.
I roast my bones at 400 degrees for about 1 hour. I usually toss some potatoes on the cookie sheet. This makes the best, and I mean the best, potato wedges. The potatoes are being cooked in bone marrow! They are crispy on the bottom and tender and fluffy on the inside.
I really should take a picture one day and add them to this post. It is hard to get in between my family and the potatoes when they are fresh out of the oven.
Once the bones are baked, I then place them in my large stock pot, add the water, vegetables and seasonings.
I try to simmer my stock for 12 hours. Why? Because this gives me what you see below. A flavorful and well set stock. This has been in the fridge overnight and it looks perfect.
Recipe: Homemade Beef Stock
Makes 3-5 quart jars, depending on how long you let it simmer and reduce
4-5 pounds of beef bones, grass-fed if possible
12-14 (estimate) cups of water, fill pot until bones and veggies are covered
6 carrots, chopped in large chunks
2 large onions, quartered
4 gloves garlic, minced
6 stalks of celery, chopped in large chunks
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons of herbs. I use an assortment of dried and fresh herbs--this is really up to you and what you have in your cupboards or refrigerator. The broth might be flavored differently each time but this does not bother me.
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. On a cookie sheet, place your bones. Cook for one hour. (Your house will smell amazing.)
3. In a large stock pot, add all of the other ingredients. When bones are done cooking, add the bones and marrow that has melted on the cookie sheet to the stock pot. Cover with water until bones are just beneath the water.
4. Set stove top to medium high to heat water and get the water to a slow boil. Turn the heat down to a medium low and let it cook all day. If your stock is not reducing then increase the heat a little bit more.
5. Check back ever few hours and stir.
6. When you are ready to bottle up the stock, turn the heat off and let it cool for about 15 minutes.
7. I always strain my stock several times to get it as clear as you see above. The first time I use a metal strainer for the big pieces of vegetables or bone. The second time I strain it with a mesh bag that I have. It is great for catching all of the tiny bits.
8. When the bottles are portioned I let them cool to room temperature. I cap them with a canning lid and ring but not too tightly until they are completely cooled.
9. You will notice that as you portion the broth, the fat will rise to the top. I keep this fat and use it for making gravies, biscuits and Yorkshire Puddings. I use my turkey baster and suck it off the top. I try to leave about a quarter inch on top so that when I do add this to my soups, the fat will add flavor and body to my next recipe.
10. You can freeze the broth too. Just use a freezer approved container, leave enough head space for expansion and make your containers. I try to use mine up within 3 months.