Rich Beef Stock … Waste Not

I don’t usually make stock, even when I’ve roasted a turkey or chicken, but seeing as I’d paid a hefty price for my holiday prime rib and I was planning to make a stew on Boxing Day, I thought it made good sense to a make a stock from the meaty rib bones. Besides, being on holiday I have more time to putter in the kitchen, and there’s something very satisfying about making your own stock.

So, after dinner I stashed the rack in the fridge. The next day I cut it into three separate ribs and tossed them into a Dutch oven over medium high heat. I added two carrots and three stalks of celery cut into chunks, two onions that were quartered and several cloves of garlic, lightly crushed.

My intention was to coax even more flavour from the meaty bones and vegetables through sautéing in the fatty juices that would render from the beef, so I let this mixture fry, stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes. The process created some caramelized goodness at the bottom of the pot which would enhance the flavour even more.

I then added 8 cups of cold water and a bay leaf, brought it to a boil and then left to simmer for several hours. I didn’t add any salt or pepper because I wanted to control the seasoning in the dish for which the stock would be an ingredient. Toward the end, I turned the heat up a bit and left the lid slightly ajar to concentrate the stock even more.

The colour of the broth intensified to a rich golden, a sign that flavour was developing as well. Once finished, I removed the ribs with tongs and set aside for a snack later, then poured the broth and vegetable mixture into a bowl through a strainer, pressing on the vegetables to release as much liquid as possible.

The broth is still quite fatty at this point and I wanted to remove as much as possible. Seeing as it’s winter here, I was able to cover the bowl and set it outside for a couple of hours to cool. The fat floated to the top and loosely solidified so I was able to skim a lot of it off. At that point I poured the broth into a plastic container and stored it in the fridge for a couple of days. Once again, the fat solidified on the top and I went through another skimming process. (If I were going to use the stock right away or finish it for freezing, I could have skipped the second cooling and skimming, and gone straight to the straining process described below.)

That fat isn’t very appetizing looking, is it? It’s worth the time to remove as much as possible before using the stock. After skimming, I went through a straining experimentation process, this time lining the sieve first with a paper towel, then with a coffee filter. Neither of these worked very well, as the liquid was taking far too long to drip through. I think a couple of layers of cheesecloth would have been ideal for the job, but, lo and behold, none was to be found in my kitchen. So, I just poured the broth through the fine sieve one final time before heating it for use in the stew I was making. (At this point, I could have stored it in the freezer for use later.)

The reward for all my labours was just over two cups of a golden stock that offered a rich depth of flavour. Normally, I use low-salt bouillon as a base for stocks, but I’m glad I invested the time in making this batch from scratch.

6 comments

  1. This is such a great use for a standing rib’s bones. I’ve never considered making a soup with them — but I will now. I, too, use my porch as an extension of my fridge. Using it to de-fat soup works for me, too. Thanks for sharing a great idea.

    • Growing up, the unheated front porch did double duty as refrigerator during the cold months of the year. Wishing I had a space like that now … I take my chances with the racoons when I set things out to cool on the patio table. So far, so good though.

  2. Are two steps really necessary, Marlene? I generally let soup or stock cool to room temperature, then in the fridge overnight. I find the fat has floated to the top and solidified. Less muss and fuss.

    • I hear your point, Mary, but I like to use this method to cool the stock as quickly as possible to the point where I can put it in the fridge (without heating up the fridge). This is a preferred method from a food safety point of view. Here’s just one link that explains it:http://www.thekitchn.com/food-safety-ice-baths-48957. Also, I always seem to be turning off the slow cooker fairly late in the evening, so I need to get everything done fast before turning in for the night.

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