My Big Beef with Stock

Making stocks and broths is not hard. This is something every home cook should learn how to do. Being able to control your flavor profile by choosing the right stock or broth and what they are flavored with will make a huge difference compared to using store bought liquids or dry cubes and powders. The secret, is having the right tools to get the job done without the stress and watchful eye. 

Making stock really only requires one tool. Breville’s Fast Slow Pro. Using this takes out maybe 80% of the stress because you can set it and forget it. There’s no standing at the stove for hours. The rest is the right recipe and the right plan on how to both use and store the stocks you make.

Last week I wrote a post about all the cuts of beef we walk right past in the grocery store and at the butcher and how there are some real gems we need to be using. Not only are there interesting things to make with these cuts but utilizing the whole animal is, in my opinion, the right thing to do.

I’ll let you in on a little secret. My dream is to buy a whole animal each season and make it last or in some cases like a cow find way to use the whole thing before the season is over. I would love to buy a whole cow and a goose at the top of winter, a lamb and a couple chickens for spring, summer is all about sea food so that’s easier, and then a pig and a turkey every fall.

Learning how to use the whole animal isn’t hard. It takes time and work, sure, but what doesn’t? Plus, using a whole animal is the more sustainable approach to eating meat. If you, like me, enjoy a good steak, think about this… one cow provides on average 30-40 steaks. So for the sake of argument lets say for every 40 steaks there’s one oxtail, one tongue, and so on. Wasting parts of the animal is not only no sustainable but it is disrespectful to the animal. Another shocking stat? How about for every 1,000 pound steer we typically only get about 430 pounds of “retail” meat. This may turn some people off from eating meat all together and that’s their decision. However for me it just compels me to try and use as much as I can.

Looking at a short list of cuts a steer offers a least 20 different cost of meat. However, we all tend to lean towards only a couple. So now when I go to the meat isle of a grocer or to my favorite butcher I am looking at both what I need for a recipe and what have I never used.

It wasn’t until I started making my own beef stock that I even learned what oxtail is. Did you know it has NOTHING to do with an ox? It is simple the cows tail. Oxtail has lots of uses and is a fascinating part of the cow. It’s also a key component to great beef stock. For stocks you want gelatin. This is what will allow you to make thicker sauces and other delicious things out of your stocks but where do you find it? Joints. Trapped in areas of tendons and cartilage is where the major happens. In my post about chicken stock I explained this is why using only the wing is important but where do you find enough on a cow? The answer, their tail. The tail is essentially an extension of their spine. It has lot of little bones that are connected together and completely flexible. This makes it an essential ingredient for stock.

Beef Stock couldn’t be easier to make. It is only a few ingredients.

  • 4 pounds Beef Bones
  • 350 grams Oxtail, sectioned
  • Grapeseed Oil
  • 500 grams Onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 Star Anise
  • 500 grams Carrot, thinly sliced
  • 375 milliliters Malbec

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375ºF. Place the beef bones and oxtail pieces into a roasting pan, brush with oil and roast for 1 hour, turning the pieces half way through. When done, put all the roasted bones into the Fast Slow Pro and pour in any drippings.

Place a sauté pan on the stove over medium heat and add a thin layer of oil. Once hot add the onions and the star anise. Cook until the onions are slightly caramelized. Add the carrots, stirring occasionally, until both are soft and caramelized. Add the red wine, deglaze the pan making sure to scrape up all the caramelized bits, and reduce to a thin syrup. Pour all the contents into the fast slow pro.

beef-stock-2

Add 2 liters of cold water. Close the cooker and set it to “pressure cooker” on high for 2 hours. Let pot fully depressurize.

beef-stock-1

With tongs remove the bones from the stock before straining the solids through the chinos.

beef-stock-3

Then place the a fine mesh sieve over a large bowl lay two layers of wet cheese cloth over the sieve and strain the stock though, removing some of the fat and small particles. Let cool, cover, then refrigerate overnight to allow the stock and the fat to “set up” as this will make skimming the fat off much easier.

Reheat to use. If storing either freeze or can. If canning you must use a pressure canner. Can in half pint jars as many recipes call for much smaller amounts of beef stock than any other stock. For the exact times and processing information for pressure canning beef stock refer to the “Ball Canning Book”.

Now with my stock all made it’s chili for dinner tonight!

A little funny story to share: The first time I made the recipe I had no idea what oxtail was or where to find it. So when I found one at my Asian Food Store I got it. The tail was still in one solid piece. In order to fit it into my pressure cooker my husband used branch pruners to break it up for me.

2 thoughts on “My Big Beef with Stock

  1. I can’t agree more with what you’re saying here. It’s quite disgraceful what it wasted. I ate many many oxtails as a kid – we didn’t have much money and they were dirt cheap because no one wanted them! Mum braised them in an oniony liquid and they became so soft and delicious. Thanks for the reminder – I need to get her recipe!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the comment! It’s fascinating when I was doing a bit of reading on oxtail I discovered that it used to be really cheap because no one wanted it. Now, however, top chefs have discovered the magic of this piece and it is calling a much higher price… Still worth it though!

      Liked by 1 person

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