Thursday, January 26, 2012

Beef Stock

Beef stock is like liquid gold yumminess. Yes. I did just say that. You may think it comes in a can. And that it was put there by a man. In a factory downtown. But that beef stock is kindy sucky. And pretty hard to find kosher. Actually in truth I never really looked that hard, but I also have not seen it by the canned/boxed chicken broth in the kosher aisle at my local supermarket, so you do the math.

Good brown beef stock is made from roasted beef and veal bones. (As opposed to white beef stock made from unroasted bones.) I use mostly big ol beef bones, and a few veal bones, especially from the foot area, which produces lots of gelatinous goodness from the cartilage, and connective tissue, which is super healthy for you. If you have leftover bones from a roast or something along those lines, by all means save them, and use them to make stock! As an aside, also save the juices at the bottom of the roasting pan. It drives me nuts when I am at friends’ homes and they pour them down the sink after a meal. Freeze them and use them to flavor grains, or sauces. But ok back to bone… Before you yell at me for using veal bones, let me say, I don’t usually eat veal, not because it is a baby animal, the Torah is clear about it being ok to eat baby animals, as long as they reach a certain age, and that is good enough for me, since I do eat animals. I don’t usually eat veal because of that whole milk fed chained up so they can’t move torture the baby cows thing. However, not all veal is processed that way anymore, so inquire with your butcher before ruling it out. A good way to tell is by looking at the color of the meat. Non milk fed chained up veal will be darker in color. A good source for kosher beef bones, and other meat, from animals not tortured aka not raised in factory farms, is Grown & Behold, an awesome new company that you should totally check out if you are not yet familiar with them.

After you roast the bones you may have brown roasty meat bits and white fat aka beef tallow in the pan. Some people scrape it all up with a little water and add it to the stock pot, but since you are going to skim off the fat anyway that has never made sense to me. If you want to discard let it cool and throw in the garbage after it solidifies. However I keep mine. I break it up into little chunks, freeze them separately, and add to chulent. It kicks up the geshmake factor by a lot. And before you tell me that is not healthy I will preemptively say, it is chulent, not kale, get with the program. And anyway did you see how much hydrogenated fat is in the pre-made parve pie crust you buy for your broccoli kugel every week? Or in the margarine in your Zomick’s meltaway? At least this is natural, and hence not really bad for you in moderation. Ps- if you ever eat in my home schmaltz and tallow are hidden in the dishes you would least expect. Just a heads up.

I also add an assortment of basic vegetables such as onion, garlic, celery and carrot. I usually save the large scraps and tops when I am prepping vegetables in my daily cooking and stick them in the freezer for making stock.

Beef stock needs to simmer for a long time, like up to 12 hours, slowly, to extract all the goodness from those tough bones. So be patient. And plan to do it when you are home on a rainy Sunday. It is a great excuse to stay inside. Oh what you want me to come to your mothers cousins aunts childs party who also happens to have strep and chicken pox? Sorry I am simmering this stock today…..

One  last note before we get into the nitty gritty, don’t add salt to your stock. Since stock concentrates as you simmer, if you add salt it will end up tasting like salt stock, not beef stock.

Brown Beef Stock:

-Around 10 lbs bones, more or less, it is all good
-A Ziploc full of Leftover vegetable scraps OR 1 onion, a few cloves of garlic, a few carrots, and a few ribs of celery
-3 tomatoes diced, the acid helps break down the bones
-A teaspoon of whole peppercorns (if you have them, if not leave it out)
-1 teaspoon white vinegar
-Lots of water

Array the bones in a roasting pan, and roast at 425 for at least an hour, longer is better, but not more than 2 hours, turning halfway through. When roasted place bones in a large stock pot, with roughly cut up vegetables. A lot of people roast the vegetables as well, and you can, but I have never noticed it making a real difference for me. Sprinkle over this the vinegar and peppercorns. Now add lots of cold water to fill your pot. It must be cold. The bones need to heat up slowly to pull the impurities out so you can skim them off, and also to pull out all the healthy goodness from the bones, instead of shocking them in hot water and sealing up all the juicy goodness inside. Bring the pot to a boil, skim off the scum, and then turn down to a really low flame and simmer. Simmering means crazy low, like an occasional bubble comes up kind of thing. Simmer for as long as you can, but aim for 12 hours. If too much water evaporates as it simmers add more. Actually you probably will need to add more. Maybe a few times.

When it is done, let it cool, it should be somewhat gelatinous and golden looking. If using within a few days you can store it in the fridge, but before using reboil to kill any bacteria that may have grown. If not using right away, and you will have a lot of stock so chances are this is the way to go,  divide into portions and freeze for future use. I freeze in quart size Ziplocs.

So after reading all of this you may be thinking, but now that I have made this yummy goodness called brown beef stock, what do I do with it? Well, lots of things. Use it as a base for soups, in chulent instead of or in addition to water, as a base for sauces, in chili, you get the idea….. It gives a rich hearty satisfying background note to dishes and a rolling off the tongue kind of amazing mouthfeel. And it is really super good for you.

Ok, so I don't have any pictures of the stock once it is done, but after 12 hours of simmering do you know how late at night it was?!?!

Happy Eating!

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