Over the weekend I made homemade beef bone stock. Beef bone stock is very healthy to eat—it’s loaded with nutrients. It takes many hours to make, but it’s well worth the time and effort. British chef Gordon Ramsay is one of my favorite chefs and I borrowed some of his ideas for making a good beef bone stock. Ramsay’s cooking shows are grand—so much to learn! I modified some things, for instance, I did not add the tomato puree or mushrooms like he did. Moreover, I cooked my stock a few hours more. The result was excellent!
I went to a local butcher and picked up some meaty Razza Piemontese beef bones. And the first thing I did upon arriving back in my kitchenwas to roast the bones in the oven at 220°C. for one hour. This is the first step. In the meantime, I sautéed some veggies in olive oil until they were golden brown: carrots, celery, onions, and garlic. The vegetables only need to be cut up into large pieces, and the garlic too. After the bones and meat are browned, I put them along with the browned veggies into a big soup pot. I filled up the pot with about two and a half liters of water. I also scraped out the juices in the bottom of the roasting pan, mixing with a bit of warm water, and poured everything into the pot. Then I added several black peppercorns, two teaspoons of dried thyme, and three small bay leaves. No salt. After bringing the liquid in the pot to a boil, I reduced the heat and simmered for a little over ten hours.
While the stock is cooking any scum that forms at the top needs to be removed. Luckily I had hardly any scum which means the quality of the beef is very good. I used bones from locally raised Razza Piemontese cattle. In total, I simmered the stock for over ten hours until all the meat, cartilage fell off from the bones and the fat dissolved. Don’t throw any of the cartilage away as its very healthy to eat! And the bone marrow is delicious! I must confess, while the stock was still cooking, I took out a bit of bone marrow and spread it on some fresh bread. Delizioso !
After the stock is finished cooking, I let it cool down a litte before I begin to strain it; I strain the stock a couple of times. The solid stuff, i.e. the cooked veggies, herbs, small bones, should be thrown out. There is no point in saving the veggies because they have no flavor, they taste like mush. I removed the meat from the stock, and one must always very carefully check for any small bone pieces. The meat is then stored in the refrigerator until I am ready to use it for preparing soup. I save the beef stock in glass mason jars that are stored in the refrigerator for up to five days—eventually to be used for making soup. And I also froze some of the stock. The stock as it cools down, will thicken into a loose gel. As the stock cools a thick layer of fat will form on the top. I also save some of this fat for frying foods or even use it to cook a risotto. I don’t waste anything—everything can be used in one or another.
When I’m ready to make a vegetable-beef soup, I just take the cold thick beef stock out of the refrigerator and gradually heat it up. Then I toss in the veggies (fresh or frozen), parsley, a large clove of garlic, a bit of black pepper, and salt. When using garlic, I always cut the clove in half and remove the green inner part—if this is not removed it will cause indigestion. This is the proper way to use garlic. Another point I’d like to make is that it is only when I am ready to cook the soup that I add salt. If you recall, while I was cooking the beef bone stock, I did not add salt. I always add some crushed peperoncino (cayenne pepper) flakes, about one-fifth of a teaspoon. I cooked the soup about one hour at a strong simmer. Then I took the cold meat pieces out of the fridge and put them in the soup during the last thirty minutes of cooking. After eating two bowls of this hearty soup, I got a big boost of energy!
Bon Appétit !
By Karin Susan Fester (c) 2014