Who doesn’t love beef stew? Especially on the cold gray winter days that make you cold just looking out your window. Those of you who live in warm sunny climates will just have to turn your air conditioners up and pretend. Poor you.
The base of any good soup or stew is the stock used to make it. And there is no commercial stock that can compare to home made.
“Oh, but that sounds so hard. And so complicated.” you are saying. I hear you.
Yes, Susan, you can do it. I promise it isn’t difficult. It is time consuming as the stock will need to simmer for an entire day, so you’ll have to plan around that. But, you can make a huge batch and freeze some for the next time.
You don’t really have to do anything to it all day, just be home while it simmers away. Oh, and occassionally wipe the drool off your chin.
I am all about taking short cuts, because a) I am lazy. and b) Well, I am lazy and have poor planning skills. But the extra effort makes this taste so much better. It is not all salty and MSG laden with ingredients you can not pronounce.
Don’t worry. If you don’t want to make your own stock, you can purchase it already made. Just skip this post. Also, pretend I didn’t say salty and MSG laden and gross. Oh, I didn’t say that? Well I was thinking it. Come back Thursday when I will post the recipe for the delicious beef stew pictured above.
4 pounds beef soup bones
2 large onions, peeled and quartered
5 medium carrots, cut into large chunks (I cut 2-3″ off the fat ends of a bag of carrots and use those)
5 medium celery ribs, cut into large chunks (I cut the end off the entire bunch and use all the less than perfect ones)
6 large garlic cloves, peeled and tossed in whole
freshly ground pepper
salt- I don’t add salt at this stage. I prefer to add it when I use the stock to make a soup or stew.
Where to get soup bones? You know, if stealing them from neighborhood dogs isn’t your thing.
They should sell them at your local grocery store. If not ask the butcher if he has any that are going to be thrown away. They are obscenely inexpensive.
Another alternative is to save the bones from meat dishes you make and store them in a bag in your freezer. Something I have done, uh, never.
Turn your oven to 450 and put your soup bones in a baking pan for about 30 minutes, or until they turn brown.
In the mean time, chop the veggies and toss them and the spices in your large stock pot. Fill the pot about 3/4ths of the way with water. About 16 cups of water I would guess.
Once the bones are done roasting, toss into the pot.
Now at this point you can deglaze the baking pan. Deglaze is a fancy schmancy word for add a bit of water or red wine to the stuck on bits and drippings in your pan and scrape it with a spatula over some heat.
But, as I mentioned above, I am lazy and therefore I just scrape the drippings and cooked on pieces off with a spatula right over the stock pot and call it a day. You can take a swig from the wine bottle instead. You have totally earned it.
Turn the pot on high until it boils. Then turn it down low. As low as you can turn it. Put the lid on and go about your merry way. Every couple of hours check it and add more water if necessary. Let it cook all day, as in 10 hours. Turn it off and let it cool on the stove. The put the whole thing in your fridge overnight. or if you are lucky enough to live somewhere cold, put it outside on a screened porch or the middle of your driveway or your neighbor’s front stoop. You know anywhere cold and convenient.
The next morning you want to carefully open the pot up and scrape off the layer of fat that has formed on the top. Don’t worry if you don’t get every last bit of it, a little fat won’t kill you.
Get out your colander . Make sure you have it set inside of another pan to catch the broth as it strains through. Should I say it again? Because it has happened before. Not that I would know anything about that. Ahem.
You will be left with something that looks like this:
I had a lot of fun leaving it out on the table and telling the children that it was going to be dinner tonight. Then I made one of them carry it out to our compost pile or, as I like to call it, our wild animal feeding pile.
Your beef stock will look like this.
Pour half into a container and put in the freezer.
The other half we are going to use to make a fabulous beef stew. Every single one of my children give it a stamp of approval, a rare thing indeed.
Here, take another look at it.