Making homemade beef stock is easy. And it is free of all the extra additives and excessive salt the commercial stocks contain. Ask a butcher for soup bones, which shouldn’t cost much. If you have a meat market in your area that sells range-fed beef, so much the better.
All the recipes for beef stock call for roasting the bones in the oven for about an hour until they are brown. I have found I can brown the bones on top of the stove in less time, using less fuel.
makes about 1 quart (1 liter)
2 lbs. (about 1 kilo) beef soup bones
4 small limes or 2 large limes, juiced (or fresh lemon juice)
1 medium onion, peeled and quartered
3 sprigs of parsley
2 quarts (about 2 liters) water
Heat a large stock pot over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil. Spread it around so the entire bottom of the pot is oiled. Add bones and cook, turning, until brown, about 20-30 minutes. The bones should be well browned, with brown bits sticking to the bottom of the pan.
Transfer browned bones to a pressure cooker (or another dish if cooking the stock in the same pot). Add lime or lemon juice and deglaze the pot, scraping up all the brown bits, known as fond, which add color and flavor to the stock.
If using a pressure cooker, add fond and citrus juice to the pressure cooker. Add onion and parsley. Cover with water, using about 2 quarts (2 liters).
Bring to a rocking pressure, and cook for 2 hours, adjusting heat if necessary. If using the stock pot, add everything to the pot and cook, covered, for 3-4 hours. With either pan, leave the lid on after the heat is turned off, and let stock cool on its own. This gives the acid of the citrus juice additional time to leach minerals out of the bones.
Strain through a colander, discarding bones and solids. Salt to taste. When cool, the fat on top will harden and be easy to remove.
Salt to taste. When cool, the fat on top will harden and be easy to remove. This stock is concentrated. Depending on your taste, you may want to dilute it with water before using in soup. In the summer, I like to eat a dish of it cold and gelatinous — cool spoonfuls of power-packed nutrition. Refrigerate for up to 5 days, or freeze for up to 2 months.
The observant eye may see an herb in my pot not readily recognizable. This is epazote, an herb common in Mexican cooking, and one I am experimenting with in different recipes. Other herbs may be added to the pot, such as oregano, basil or marjoram. Also, other vegetables can be added, such as celery, carrots and tomatoes. There are no rules in cooking.
The long cooking time allows for greater leaching out of calcium and other minerals from the bones, resulting in a mineral-rich stock. The acid of the citrus juice, as well as serving to deglaze the pot, is the leaching agent.
If you have a dog, the bones make great treats. Our dog Chucha even eats the discarded vegetables. (Is is OK to post a dog photo with a recipe? Please don’t tell me if it isn’t.)