Homemade Beef Stock Recipe

January 19, 2011

in Recipes, Soups & Stews

Whenever it comes to stock-based soups, I almost always use homemade – with homegrown  beef and chickens and fresh local fish I buy from time to time it just makes sense.

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Every time we butcher, I ask our small-town butcher to keep soup bones, which are usually cut out of legs and include a nice amount of marrow – the heavenly substance dreams are made of – if you are Russian, anyway (the Russian love for beef marrow is well documented in classical Russian literature).

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While packages vary in size, they are almost always somewhere between one and two-and-a-half pounds.

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I am not very exact with proportions – I just put approximately two pounds of bones on the bottom of a 5-quart pot, and fill it almost full (you’ll see in a moment) with water. Cold water.

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Then cover it and bring to a simmer over high heat. I don’t add anything else at this point.

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As the brew is approaching the simmering point, scum will begin to rise to the top, and needs to be skimmed off and discarded. This will go on for about twenty minutes or so.

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Meanwhile, prepare whatever else you will be using in the stock (you don’t want to add these until the scum has stopped rising and the soup has come to a boil, so they don’t get covered in scum or worse, be removed with it). A number of things will work, but I almost always go with an unpeeled carrot, an onion, a head of garlic (I’ll be using unpeeled cloves), a few sprigs of parsley, and bay leaves (which I was out of this particular time). If it’s a beef broth, I also like to add dried allspice berries (which I also didn’t have on hand) – they go so well with beef. I also use whole black peppercorns but I didn’t have any of those either. It wasn’t exactly my day.

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Oh, and cloves!

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I really love adding cloves to the soup…

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Because I get to do this! I think this is a great opportunity for combining artistic expression with the outlet for violent emotions. Not that I have any violent emotions. Not me.

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Once the scum is done rising, add all the vegetables and aromatics and keep the stock on medium simmer, partially covered, for 2-3 hours. I know some die-hard Weston A. enthusiasts would let it go all day until the bones fall apart and release the gelatin, but I find that 2-3 hours is just enough to get a strong broth and go about my life.

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I don’t ever worry about adding my aromatics directly to the stock because I always strain it before freezing or cooking with. Be sure to reserve the bones to strip off every bit of meat for the soup. And don’t forget to eat the marrow with a spoon! I am not kidding. There are few delights on earth greater than sweet, fat bone marrow (it’s called “bone brain” in Russian – for a long time early in our relationship Jacob refused to acknowledge that “bone brain” existed).

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Isn’t that beautiful? Now we’re gonna make some extremely simple beef and noodle soup. You like beef and noodle soup, right?

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Slice the onions (or chop them – doesn’t matter)…

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Butter… don’t skimp on butter! Never skimp on butter.

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Saute the onions over medium heat until this happens.

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Bring the stock back to a simmer and add salt.

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Egg noodles…

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I used about 2 to 2.5 C for some 3 quarts of stock. It’s up to you, really. Cook the noodles until done.

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Now add a ton of freshly pressed (or minced) garlic – I think I used about 3 cloves.

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The onions…

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The meat from the bones, cut up into 1″ chunks.

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A dash of red wine vinnegar…

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Worcestershire…

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Parsley – and you’re done! And that’s all!

{ 13 comments }

1 Foodie January 19, 2011 at 1:04 pm

Bone brains! That’s excellent!

My husband eats marrow in the French style, which is sliced and put on top of a cut of meat. Is this the Russian way? Sorry I am not so well read.

2 Sofya January 19, 2011 at 2:23 pm

With a spoon straight out of the bone with salt and bread, but not spread on bread. That’s my way anyway. I love it.

3 Foodie January 19, 2011 at 3:25 pm

yes, my husband will eat it with a spoon right out of the bone, too. Babies really like it! I like it but usually give mine to the folks who like it more.

I’ve never heard of a butcher freezing stuff for people. Is this like renting locker space? Seems a lot more sensible than everybody having a chest freezer (or two) in their basement.

4 Sofya January 19, 2011 at 3:28 pm

No, why did you decide they did that in my case? I have 2 chest freezers and an upright freezer and the one above my fridge, all packed with various animal and vegetable species. For our life it is indispensable.

5 Sofya January 19, 2011 at 6:29 pm

@Foodie – nevermind, I understand now where the confusion came from! We raise the beef here but our butcher butchers it (they are all set up for it, this also includes slaughter). By “keeping” the soup bones I meant that they cut them into usable chunks and package them as in the picture above. Otherwise, as far as I understand, a default way to process a beef cow for them is to discard those bones altogether. I don’t think a lot of people make stock like that.

6 Foodie January 19, 2011 at 6:29 pm

LOL! Sorry I wasn’t clear. I DID assume you have freezers crammed with meat ’cause you have the livestock. I meant (but said badly) an off-site shared space makes a lot of sense for people who aren’t farmers. We have a really small house and no livestock;certainly we’d be more inclined to buy bulk meat if we could keep pay a reasonable amount to a local butcher, where we could pick it up whenever. Folks in apartments could really benefit from this, too. Remember there’s no co-ops where I am.

7 Foodie January 19, 2011 at 6:34 pm

oops, yes, we’re talking about 2 diff. things. still, I like the idea of renting storage space

8 Sofya January 19, 2011 at 8:35 pm

I mean there are meat lockers which do just that. You rent freezer space, basically.

9 threadbndr February 27, 2012 at 9:46 pm

foodie – I’m in Kansas, but in the city. I buy sides of beef (and my son hunts). We can lease locker space at our custom cutter/butcher if all the house freezers are full. I also did use one when I was living in apartments in college. Very handy.

Look for “locker plants” in your area. They are pretty common here, at least. And the big, industrial walk in freezers do go down much colder than any home freezer can get. The ones that I’ve used are like a frozen warehouse LOL. The smaller lockers are about about the size of two military footlockers stacked on top of each other. You have a key and sign in, grab a cart for your box or ice chest, load up (or unload) and away you go. Faster than at the grocery, usually.

NOTE – from bitter freezer burned experience – Keep an inventory. Things get buried in the back even worse than in a chest freezer at home.

10 threadbndr February 27, 2012 at 9:50 pm

YUMMMM. I make chicken and ham stock all the time. I was off put by beef stock recipies that had you brown the bones first. Yours is a LOT more do-able. I’ve always had our butcher cut dog bones for me and let the canines have the marrow, but I think I’ll ask for soup bones next time. Now I’m hungry for beef and noodles LOL.

11 Sofya February 27, 2012 at 10:20 pm

The marrow is the most delicious part. Browning anything first is a complete and utter waste of time in this case – Russians like myself consider soups a cornerstone of their diet – eaten daily in the old country – and the stock is homemade 100% of the time – anything else is inconceivable – and nobody browns a damn thing. And it’s easy as can be – throw in the pot 3 parts water to 2 parts bones, throw in a couple of veggies and spices (optional), boil for two hours, done. If want degreased, chill overnight and remove the solidified fat in the morning. Done. My butcher saves 100% of my marrow bones for me for this reason. Although I admit I don’t make soup as often as I’d like to here in US.

12 Cyd September 13, 2012 at 12:39 am

Your photos are really excellent! A pal sent me a reference because she has chickens, also wants to make her own ricotta cheese. I can’t find the cheese part, but enjoying reading your recipes and stories.

13 Sofya September 13, 2012 at 8:19 am

Ricota recipe: heat milk to 165 degrees. Stir in a tablespoon of lemon juice. That will cause the milk to curdle. Place a colander over a pot and line with a floursack kitchen towel or several layers of cheesecloth. Pour the curdled milk in and drain until the cheese is your desired consistency.

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