Beef stock is done similarly to chicken stock, but the bones are roasted first to give the stock a more complex flavor. Personally, I find beef stock without the roasted bones to be ok, but the stock made with the roasted bones is fantastic and I’d gladly consume it daily.
I do recommend you include a chicken foot in with the beef stock, if you can source quality ones. You can also include a calf’s foot, but they’re even harder to get ahold of.
Hands-on: 30 minutes
Hands-off: 12-72 hours
7 pounds of a mix of beef bones
2 onions, cut into wedges
4 stalks of celery
1 chicken foot, if available
½ cup white or apple cider vinegar
1 bunch parsley
Take any meaty bones you have, or beef ribs, and place them into a baking pan in a single layer. Place in a 350 degree oven and roast, turning regularly, until the bones are well-browned. Cool completely. It’s best to leave them overnight in the fridge if you can.
Once all of the bones are cool, place them into the stock-pot with the onion, carrot and celery. Add the chicken foot if you can get it, because it imparts extra gelatin to the broth. Measure out one gallon of water and add it to the pot. If the bones are not sufficiently covered, add additional water, one quart at a time. Add your vinegar, putting in a half cup per gallon of water (if you added any additional water, you should add an extra 2 tablespoons of vinegar for each extra quart of water you added beyond the initial gallon). Cover and allow to stand for one hour.
Uncover the pot. Bring the pot to a boil and skim off all of the scum that rises to the surface. Reduce the heat to a simmer, re-cover the pot and allow to simmer for 12-72 hours. If you are using the parsley, add it the last fifteen minutes of cooking time.
Once you are done simmering, use a skimmer or a slotted spoon to carefully remove all of the solids from the pot. Place an empty stock pot in a clean sink and place a sieve over top of it. Line the sieve with a kitchen towel. Pour the stock through the sieve and into the awaiting stockpot, so that the kitchen towel catches any remaining solids. Immediately move the stock to the refrigerator or surround the stockpot with ice water and cool completely. Discard the fat, and move the stock to the freezer in meal size portions for long-term storage.
If you’d like to use a crock-pot instead of a pot on the stove, it will certainly work just as well. I place it on high until it boils, skim and then reduce to low heat for the duration of the cooking period. This method is handy because you can dip out what you need, refill it with the same amount of water and perpetually keep a supply of broth on hand until the broth becomes weak or the bones disintigrate. I use this method through the winter.
I did this with venison last fall, and I used a deer foot. It was very strange having a foot in the pot. But it really gave a lot of gelatin to the stock. And the foot broke down so much I couldn’t recognize it . I think this year I will be adding a few more feet to my stock:)
In the winter, stocks are our staple food. I use oxtail and short ribs (or whatever bony ribs I can find) and it is the most beautiful gelatinous stock ever! I always do mine in the crock pot, then I can leave it for 18 hours without worrying I will burn it!
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I made this today before you posted it!
I just want to add… it bothers me to use good veggies in stock just to throw them away.
Instead, I keep a giant tupperware container in the freezer and put stuff in it until it’s full… onion peels, bell pepper tops, outer leaves of cabbage, any vegetable threatening to go bad (but none that ACTUALLY have). One always has recipes that want one or two carrots or ribs of celery, if I don’t use up the rest before it goes limp, it goes in the freezer. If lettuce in a salad has gotten slimy, I pull the tomatoes, onions and cukes out and stick them in my freezer container. Bits of ginger root that get dehydrated. or the dried out bits of herbs I pull of my herb plants. Basically, any vegetable type stuff that would otherwise get thrown out. About the only thing I don’t use is potato peels cause I don’t like the “earthy” taste they impart. Then when my big container is full of stuff, I use it to make stock. Hubby says I “make food out of garbage”. 😉
I use my crockpot nearly exclusively for chicken carcasses since they fit so nicely, but do turkey or ham stock in the roasting pan right after the meal I’ve cooked it for (which also largely cleans it!). Beef is the only one I usually use the stockpot for, because I do roast the bones specifically for it. I make less beef stock cause I don’t cook in a manner that generates lots of beef bones, so generally have to buy bones specifically for it.
I don’t soak in vinegar BEFORE bringing to a boil, just add the vinegar and bring to a boil right away. Yes, vinegar boils off fast, so just start with more in the first place. This way, you don’t have to remember to go back in an hour. I’ve never measured the vinegar, or water. I add a big “glug” of vinegar and enough water to almost cover the stuff I’ve got in there (cause it will shrink down a bit once it starts cooking).
I have a giant collection of square tupperware, in pint and quart sizes, with the same lids. So I can freeze pretty big and small batches of stock, a couple quarts, or gallons. I usually use quart size for chicken, and pints for everything else (the other stocks seem to taste stronger and I’m more likely to dilute in recipes). Being square, they store well in the freezer without wasting space.
I don’t take the fat off right away either. I go ahead and freeze with the fat layer on there. I just pull it off before I go to use the stock.
To me, making stock is like making yogurt, something I do while in the kitchen anyways, cooking dinner or having breakfast. It takes no specific time… it just happens while I’m in there.
It’s a matter of… setting yourself up to make it easy to do. I find I actually DO things if I make it EASY to do them.
I’m ready to make stock, but have a question. Is it better NOT to make stock if the only bones I can procure are those from conventionally raised chicken or beef? I don’t want all of the chemical “extras” to end up in my stock, yet I don’t want to miss out on making stock. Thank you!
I am of the opinion that conventional is better than using water for cooking. No, it’s not ideal but I do think it’s better than going without.
Thank you! This is a most helpful AND encouraging answer.
Can you give suggestions about what kind of beef bones you use? I don’t currently cook anything where I “end up” with the bones, but I’m willing to try something new. I’ve been making chicken stock this way for several years, but I’ve only done the beef stock a couple of times when I bought the bones from a beef processor.
Your blogging on this topic has encouraged me to think about how to incorporate bone stocks into my kitchen procedures more regularly. Thanks!
Megan Bell says
I’ve read about reducing stock and freezing in ice cube trays but I can’t find instructions anywhere. Can you explain this? Thanks!