One of the things you can never have enough of in the long winter months is bone broth of any kind because you simply can’t buy it. It comes from hours of slow simmering bones and extracting all the minerals and gelatin that are essential building blocks for the human body.
There is a reason you heal faster when consuming clear bone broth. Your body needed it. It happens to be one of the most frugal things you can make and helps ensure that no part of the animal goes to waste as well. Broths you buy at the store have additives, even the organic brands. They don’t have the stuff that comes from simmering bones. They may add flavor but they are certainly not feeding you and won’t nurse you back to health from illness.
The world of bone broth is new to me this year. In the past I have made stock from turkey carcasses but that was the extent of it. I didn’t do it correctly and the broths were never full flavored. I usually ended up throwing it out or adding bouillon to it which defeats the purpose.
This year I’m obsessed with bone broth in any way, shape or form. It can turn the simplest of soups into a grand affair and it’s also an elixir tasty enough to sip plain from an old coffee mug.
Beef Bone Broth
4 pounds organic beef soup bones
1/4 – 1/2 cup Rockridge apple cider vinegar
3 medium onions, in 1/8ths
3 carrots, chopped in 1″ pieces
3 celery stalks, chopped in 1″ pieces
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
2 Tablespoons of dried nettles
Roast the soup bones in a 350 degree oven until browned.
Place the bones in a stock pot and cover them with the vinegar and enough enough filtered water to cover for about an hour to aid in the removal of minerals from the bones.
After an hour add the vegetables, peppercorns and nettles and bring the pot to a simmer. Simmer the stock for 24 – 72 hours, being sure to add more filtered water as needed. I leave mine simmering overnight, being sure it won’t run out of water. If you need to leave you can choose to leave it on simmer or turn it off while you are gone then turn it back on again when you return. As long as you bring it back to a boil again before consuming it should be fine. This is the old fashioned method for meat stock – the USDA will tell you if it’s been out for two hours to throw it away but if you ask your grandmother she will probably back me up here.
When the stock is cooked as long as you want to let it cool, then strain the broth. Cool it in the refrigerator overnight and in the morning remove the beef fat that has hardened and separated. Reserve the beef fat (tallow) and freeze for frying potato chips and other things.
At this point you can choose to freeze your broth or can it.
To can, bring the broth back up to a boil for 10 minutes and can it following the directions for beef broth in the pressure canner booklet.
What do you do with beef broth?
My friend Charlotte suggested using this for Pho which was a huge hit in my household. To make it I simply cooked some Rose brand egg noodles made in Seattle or Udon noodles would do nicely as well. I put those at the bottom of soup bowls. I heated a quart of beef broth and added some ginger, a pinch of allspice to mimic star anise, a large splash of fish sauce and soy sauce then added hot broth to the bowls of noodles. I quickly topped that with thinly sliced flank steak but any super thin cut of beef would do – the fattier the more flavorful generally. To that we added some grated lime zest that I had frozen from our winter key limes, some fresh sliced jalapeno and some cilantro. Ground peanuts would be great on this as well.
Beef Vegetable Soup – yet another simple and quick soup
To a quart of beef broth add sauteed chopped onion, carrot, celery, frozen beans, home canned tomatoes, nettles or chiffonade hearty winter greens, chopped potatoes, home canned corn, a hearty splash of Rockridge apple cider, pilsner or red wine, thinly sliced cabbage, turnip, parsnips or other root veggies. Really anything you might have overwintering in your garden or stored in your root cellar or pantry would do. If you have frozen cooked barley or other grain some of that would be great as well. I love to serve this with quick barley biscuits instead though.
French Onion Soup (or Freedom onion soup?)
Carmelize 1 pound of onion crescents slowly in butter by first putting them in a covered pan for about 10 minutes with a pinch of salt and thyme, then removing the lid and continuing to carmelize for about 25 minutes until they are dark and caremlized. Stir in a quart of beef bone broth, scraping any bits from the bottom of the pan. Add pepper and adjust the salt and thyme. Cover and simmer for about 10 minutes. To serve this in the French manner ladle the soup into oven safe ramekins or bowls. Top with a slice of crusty baguette and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of local Gruyere style cheese. I love the Mutschli from Pleasant Valley Dairy in Ferndale and they have a wholesale buying club program to keep your costs on local cheese down. They also make a farmstead cheddar and lovely gouda.
Place the ramekins on a cookie sheet and bake in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes until the cheese is nicely browned and bubbly.