Essential Beef Bone Broth

I can't possibly cook another day without touting the importance of using homemade beef bone broth in your upcoming autumn and winter soup recipes! The nutrition and flavor of homemade stock is far superior to any canned, boxed or [gasp!] cubed broth. Besides, simmering a pot of beef stock will make your house smell like a home, and could even inspire some new culinary creations of your own.

Besides having Homemade Turkey Bone Broth in my freezer, Beef stock is my next favorite staple. This is a perfect base for all your beef soups, stews, and pho noodle dishes. Sipping a cup of homemade broth in the afternoon is a cozy, nurturing snack.

The benefits of broth have been utilized throughout history in many cultures. The healing properties of homemade stock are many – its mineral-rich content of calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and other trace minerals is nutritious; its gelatin, glucosamine, and chondroitin content help arthritis and joint pain; and its anti-inflammatory properties help heal the intestinal lining and soothe inflammation.

The next time you have a quiet day planned to be around your home, nurture yourself and put a pot of stock on the stove.

Essential Beef Stock
4 pounds beef bones, cut ~2" thick pieces
8 carrots
10 ribs celery (use the leaves if you have them)
3 whole yellow onions 2 garlic cloves, crushed
10 whole peppercorns
8 whole cloves
1 small bunch parsley (or any other herb you prefer)
2 bay leaves
1 t. salt
4 quarts cold water
1 cup red wine for acidity

Oxtails, marrow bones or bare rendering bones will all work well. Meaty bones will lend a different flavor than bare bones, but all will make a lovely stock.

Grill the bones until well browned, but not burned.
You may also roast the bones in the oven at 375" for 1-1/2 hours, turning the bones occasionally and making sure they don't burn.

Add water, browned bones, vegetables and spices to a large stock pot. Add wine, too. Its acidity helps the calcium-rich bones release nutritious minerals and collagen into the broth. Slowly bring the cold water to a gentle simmer and cook for 12 hours or so.

Strain the stock through a colander lined with cheesecloth into another pot. Let cool a bit, and package 4-cups of stock into gallon zippered freezer bags, or 2-cups of stock into quart-sized zipper bags. Stack the bags flat onto a cookie sheet, cool in the refrigerator and then freeze flat in the freezer.

Some stock "purists" claim that you should only use bones, carrots, celery and onion in stock. If you know you'll enjoy the aroma of a little garlic, a particular herb or salt in all the recipes you'll cook with the stock, use flavors that your palette prefers. I like the added flavors in this recipe, it makes a flavorful, versatile soup base.

Nurture yourself and enjoy!