Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Stocking Up - Is it Broth, Stock or Bone Broth?

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...A dear friend is having a knee replaced today, and while a Western doctor will be performing the surgery, my bionic friend also consulted a practitioner of Chinese medicine to make sure all the bases were being covered. One of the latter's recommendations was the ingestion of bone broth soups both before and after surgery - the rationale being  a belief in Eastern medicine that "bone for bone"  speeds healing. I offered to make a homemade stock that could be used as a base for a variety of soups once his appetite has returned, and I promised to make my stock one with large quantities of marrow and other beef bones. There was a time when only cooking professionals could differentiate between a broth and a stock, but these days discussions of stocks, broths and bone broths have trickled down the culinary ladder, so that now even home cooks are expected to know the difference between the three. Here is the "skinny" as I know it.

Broth is water simmered with vegetables, aromatics, and meat, and can include some bones. It is cooked for a short period of time, usually 45 minutes to 2 hours, then strained and seasoned. The goal of broth is to use a combination of ingredients to create a light, flavorful liquid that can be enjoyed on it's own as a soup (or soup base along with other ingredients). Broth usually stays fluid when chilled.

Stock is water simmered with vegetables, aromatics, and animal bones, sometimes roasted, and sometimes with some meat still attached. It is cooked for a medium period of time, usually 4 to 6 hours, then strained. It is usually not seasoned at this stage. The goal of stock is to extract the collagen from the connective tissues and bones being simmered, which give stock its thick, gelatinous quality. When chilled, good stock should have the texture and jiggle of Jell-O. Stock is not served on its own; rather, it's used to deglaze a pan, or as a base for a rich sauce or gravy. Stock is also a great binder to use instead of cream or butter, or used in a broth-like manner (just add some water to it).

Bone broth is really a hybrid of broth and stock. The base is more stock-like, as it is usually made from roasted bones, but there can sometimes be some meat still attached. It is cooked for a long period of time, often more than 24 hours, and the goal is to not only extract the gelatin from the bones, but also release the nutritious minerals. It is then strained and seasoned to be enjoyed on its own, like broth.

As you scan the ingredient, you will see that a good brown stock/bone broth is fairly expensive to prepare. Its flavor, however, so far exceeds anything that is commercially available that I think you'll find it's worth every penny it takes to make it. The stock keeps for 3 days in the refrigerator and up to 3 months in the freezer. I do have a couple of cautions to share with those of you who will be making homemade stock for the first time. The stock will become cloudy if it is allowed to boil. This will not affect its flavor, but it will certainly spoil the appearance of the stock. You should also be aware that these stocks sour quickly if left at room temperature. It is important to cool the stock as quickly as you can and to keep it refrigerated until you are ready to use it in a soup or as the base for a sauce. You will also need a fine mesh colander and cheesecloth or a thin linen towel to strain the stock and free it from impurities. I do hope you'll give this recipe a try. Here is how I make my stock.

Brown Beef Stock/Brown Beef Bone Broth
...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite inspired by Martha Stewart

4 pounds beef neck bones (knuckle and shin can also be used)
3 pounds beef marrow bones
1 pound beef stew meat cut in 2-inch pieces (optional, but nice)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 onions, unpeeled and quartered
2 celery stalks, each cut into thirds
2 carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
4 garlic cloves, unpeeled and crushed
1 cup water or red wine
6 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
4 sprigs thyme
2 dried bay leaves
2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns

1) Heat oven to 400 degrees.
2) Arrange bones and stew meat in a single layer in a large, heavy roasting pan. Drizzle with oil and turn to coat. Roast, turning once and stirring often for even browning, until beginning to brown, about 45 minutes. Remove from oven, add tomato paste, and stir to combine. Cook over medium heat for about 30 seconds (to let it brown a little, which cooks out some of the acidity and intensifies the sweetness), then add vegetables, stirring well. Return to oven and roast until vegetables are browned and tender and bones are deeply browned, about 40 minutes.
3) Transfer bones and vegetables to a large stockpot, then spoon off fat from roasting pan and discard. Set pan over two burners. Add water or wine and bring to a boil, scraping up any brown bits from bottom with a wooden spoon. Boil until liquid is reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Pour contents of pan into the stockpot.
4) Add enough water to stockpot to cover bones and vegetables by 2 inches (about 6 quarts). Bring to just under a boil, then reduce heat to a bare simmer (bubbles should just gently break at the surface). Add herbs and peppercorns and very gently simmer, uncovered, over low heat for 8 hours, adding more water as necessary to keep everything submerged.
5) Carefully pour stock through a cheesecloth-lined sieve (do not press on solids) into a large heatproof bowl or another stockpot; discard solids. Stock will be dark brown. Skim off fat if using immediately or let cool completely (in an ice water bath, if desired) before transferring to airtight containers. Refrigerate at least 8 hours to allow the fat to accumulate at the top; lift off and discard fat before using or storing. Yield: 6 quarts.

Cook's Notes
Brown stock can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 3 months; thaw completely in the refrigerator

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Big Dude said...

Since broth and stock seem to get used interchangeably, I'm glad you cleared this up.


Bone for bone ... so interesting.


Elin Chia said...

Thanks for this write out. Now I get a clearer picture of stock and broth :)

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