Really good beef stock

Good beef stock, or broth as some people call it, is a real treat. It is essential for good French onion soup and has a host of other uses. The canned stuff is OK for some uses, but does not stack up against homemade. It’s a bit of work, but it can be frozen almost indefinitely. In addition to the usual beef bones, this recipe uses ground beef to add more flavor and an interesting technique with egg whites to clarify the stock.

First steps:

10 lbs beef bones, ask your butcher to cut them into 2-3 inch lengths
3 medium or 2 large onions, halved and peeled
2-3 large carrots cut in thirds, no need to peel
3 stalks celery cut in thirds
about a dozen whole black peppercorns
2 tsp salt

Put the above ingredients, except salt and pepper, in a single layer in a shallow baking pan and roast at 400 degrees for 45 minutes. Remove from oven and transfer solids to your stockpot. Place the baking pan on a burner and add a couple of cups of water. Bring to a simmer, scraping up all the brown bits that are stuck to the pan. Add to stockpot. Don’t worry about the fat, you’ll get rid of it later. Add water to cover by an inch or two and the salt and pepper. Cover, bring to a gentle simmer and cook for 4 hours, stirring once in a while. You want a really gentle simmer, with just a few bubbles rising to the surface every second. Do not let the stock come to a full boil or it will become cloudy.

At the end of the 4 hours use tongs to remove and discard the bones. Strain the stock through a coarse strainer (such as a pasta strainer) into a 2nd pot or large bowl and reserve the cooked vegetables. Rinse out the stockpot and strain the stock again, this time through a finer strainer, back into the original pot. Discard any bits that the strainer collects. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Final steps

1 lb ground beef
the reserved vegetables, chopped
8 egg whites

Remove the stock from the fridge. The fat will have congealed into a layer on the top; remove this and either discard or save for another purpose. Mix the ground beef, vegetables, and egg whites in a bowl and then stir into the stock. Bring to a slow simmer, stirring now and then. As it nears the simmer, stop stirring. After a little while of simmering, a foamy “raft” will form on the surface – this is the ground beef and chopped vegetables bound together by the egg whites, and this is what will trap all the small particles in the stock. Once it reaches the simmer, cook for an hour without stirring. Check after a few minutes – the raft may have developed an opening in the middle. If not, use a knife to cut a slit – this helps the stock to circulate.

After the hour of simmering, remove from heat and let cool slightly. Gently push the raft to one side and ladle the clarified stock through a cheesecloth-lined stainer (to catch any stray bits of the raft) into a large bowl. That’s it! You can correct for salt now but I prefer to wait and adjust the salt for each individual recipe. Discard the raft, or your dog or cat might really like it!

Explore posts in the same categories: Beef, Miscellaneous, Soups

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