mmmm. Doesn't that look appetizing? It's a big pot of cold swirly beef juice. Yum.
Like a bunch of things I've done this year, I've never before attempted to make my own beef stock. I've made chicken--but not beef. It was Erin's idea, because I wanted to make her Pho (coming tomorrow!) Homemade beef stock tastes much better than the canned stuff. It is well-worth the effort involved.
I used a combination of a recipes that Chris and Kalyn posted as a guideline, but with ingredients I had on hand. I put the broth on at 5am, and had a sick kid in the house. Running to the grocery store was not an option.
--4 lbs oxtail (leftover package from when I made oxtail stew)
--1 cup baby carrots
--head of romaine lettuce (supposed to be celery)
--8 cloves garlic
--1 T Italian seasoning
--1 t kosher salt
--1 t pepper
--1 T apple cider vinegar (not pictured)
This will take two days. Prepare yourself.
I used oxtail because I already had it in the freezer. Ox tail is rather expensive to use for beef stock---I ended up cutting the meat off the bone and mixing it with barbecue sauce to have over rice for lunch. Kalyn recommends saving scraps of meat for a few months in the freezer, and Chris recommends asking your butcher for free bones, or stealing them from the neighborhood dog. Your choice.
Roast whatever meat or bones you are going to use in a high-ish sided cookie sheet in the oven at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.
While the meat is roasting and releasing a bunch of flavor, wash and coarsely chop your vegetables to put in the crockpot. They do not need to look pretty.
When the meat is done, let it cool a bit, then scrape the meat and the juices into the crock. Add your spices and vinegar, and cover with enough water to fill the remainder of the crockpot. Cover and cook on low for 10-12 hours.
--about the vinegar-- My broth was half-way through the cooking time and I received an email from Chi who mentioned that a nutritionist recommends adding the vinegar to help suck out the flavor from the bones. So I added it then. You should add it with the spices.
Let your crockpot cool down on the counter top, and then place the removable stoneware in the refrigerator overnight.
In the morning the fat will all have floated to the top. It will be really gross.
Pick off the fat with a wooden spoon. Put a colander inside of a large pot or bowl, and pour the contents of the crockpot into the strainer. Discard the bones and vegetables.
Your stock is now ready to be used in your favorite soup or stew, and can be frozen for later use.
I used this beef stock the next day for Vietnamese Pho--coming tomorrow! It worked well, and was full of flavor. But it was a lot of work, and took a lot of time. I'll probably make stock again, but not for quite some time. Touching the gelatinous fat is not something I am eager to do anytime soon.