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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

How to Make Healthy Beef Stock

 By Gladys K.

Good quality stock is essential in low fat cooking as it imparts great flavor base for many dishes. There are two ways for making beef stocks. One is made from the leftover roasted beef. If you use leftover beef, make sure you rinse it with sufficient cool water as this will reduce the amount of seasonings and fats that remained in the leftover beef. The other way of beef stock making is to make from fresh beef, fresh veggies and herbs. Read on to understand how to make a flavorful, nutrient-dense, good quality and healthy beef stock.
Bone Selection for Beef Stock - Use Good Quality Marrow Bone
Stock is incredibly nutrient-dense, hence choosing good quality bones and meats is essential in order to yield a flavorful, delicious and nutritious stock. Ideally marrow bone is a good choice. Always make sure beef bones are from ranch-raised, grass-fed, free-range organic beef, this is to minimize artificial hormones, antibiotics and toxins that are often found in fat and bones of commercially raised beef. Making stock is about leeches all the stuff out of the bones, these include nutrients (vitamins, minerals, gelatin) and also harmful hormones, antibiotics and toxins.
Raw Vinegar Added as A Catalyst To Release Nutrients From Bones
To allow all the nutrients, minerals and collagen in the bones to leech out, you can add a small amount of raw vinegar to cold filtered water and the roasted bones, let them soak before the beef stock begin to boil. The combination of the cold water and vinegar forms an acidic medium which helps to break down the cartilage and other connective tissues in the bones, thus accelerating the formation of gelatin. This will definitely yield a pot of nutritious soup.
Flavor Layering - Browning or Roasting Bones
To add depth to the flavors of homemade stocks, it is crucial for home cooks to develop layers of flavors through food combination and cooking techniques. Layering flavors not only perks up the flavor of lower-calorie dishes, it also help to improve nutrient absorption and add spark to health cooking. One of the approach is by first browning or roasting beef bones and meats for about 45 minutes at 450°F in the oven before making broth. Roasting beef bones make richer, darker and more flavorful brown stock. This step also help to lock in juices and flavor, develop a crust on the outside and bring out natural goodness of the stock ingredients. Discard excess fat and save those browned bits in the bottom of the roasting pan where all the essence and flavors concentrate. Then you can dissolve or deglaze these browned bits using some water. Use a metal spatula to scrape up all of the browned bits stuck to the bottom of the roasting pan, then pour the browned bits and water into the stock pot to make a rich beef stock.
Flavor Layering - Sweating Vegetables
Another flavors layering technique is sauteing or caramelizing onions or any vegetables you will be using in your soup over medium heat on the stove in butter, until they turned golden brown. This browning process brings out the natural sweetness and intensifies flavors and aromas. Don't let the butter shuns you, it is a healthy fats that is good for health.
Flavor Layering - Mirepoix (Onions, Carrots and Celery)
To develop layers of flavor in the stocks, vegetables, herbs, spices and root vegetables are often added to infuse natural sweetness, pungency and colors. A combination of chopped onions, carrots and celery commonly known as Mirepoix is added to the stock usually in the ratio of 2:1:1. Mirepoix (onions, carrots and celery) renders sweetness, flavors, aromas and a wholesome color to the stock. Herbs and spices such as cinnamon sticks and star anise are also tossed in the stock to impart aromatic, pungent and licorice flavor.
Straining for Clearer Beef Stock
To strain hot stock, dampen the cheesecloth with cold water, wring it out and line a colander. The purpose of doing so is to catch any fat or impurities that are left behind. When hot stock poured through the cold cheesecloth, the fat will solidify and trap in the cheesecloth, leaving only clear stock strain through it. Then cool the stock down before transferring to ice cubes tray and freeze them. If you do not freeze them in freezer, you can leave the fat as it is in the fridge, only skim the top layer off when there's cooking needs. This fat layer serves as a protective layer against any micro-organisms or bacteria which would shorten the shelf life of the beef stock.
With this, you will have your own homemade beef stock on hands to add to soups, stews, stir-fries, rice (or risotto), noodles, sauces, casseroles and pies that is rich in nutrients, delicious, nutritious and healthy.
Make about 2.5 liters (4 pints)
  • 1.75kg (3 1/2 lb) beef bones
  • 1.5kg (3lb) lean braising steak, cut into pieces
  • 5 liters (9 pints) water
  • 125g (4oz) onions, cut into chunks
  • 4 large carrots, cut into chunks
  • 3-4 slices fresh root ginger
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 star anise
  1. Put the bones and pieces into a large saucepan with the meat.
  2. Add the water and bring it to the boil. Turn down the heat to a simmer and remove any scum that rises to the top.
  3. Add the onions, carrots, ginger, cinnamon and star anise and simmer, partially covered, for 4 hours.
  4. Leave the stock to cool slightly, then strain and pour into a container. Cover and store in the refrigerator until ready to use. It will keep for 2 days. Before using, skim any fat from the top. This top fat layer act as a protective layer against micro-organisms. Alternatively, to extend shelf life of beef stock (up to three months), you can reduce the stock further and then freeze it in ice cube trays. With this, you can unfreeze the desired quantity of stock cubes (instead of batch) for cooking needs in future.
Gladys is passionate about health. She believes in natural healing and is an advocate in healthy diet, exercise and positive thinking.
If you think that watching your weight, keeping a tab on your cholesterol level, maintaining your waistline and looking after your health equal dull and bland food, then Healthy Easy Food Recipes website will change your mind. Gladys also shares various diabetes diets in her Free Diabetic Diet Recipes website. She reckons home-cooked dish is akin to culinary art which you can add a personal touch, a healthy note and a sprinkling of love to whom you concerned.

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