Monday, September 26, 2011

Basic Beef Broth

This recipe is as old as the hills.  There are many many versions of it on the internet.  I'm going to include two here so that you can make whichever you like depending upon time, ingredients and of course energy level.

Basic broth has been considered a healing food for generations.  It is now strongly recommended both by WAP  (Weston A Price, see resources page) and GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome: again see resources page) to heal the digestive tract and to keep us healthy.  On GAPS it is supposed to be taken daily as either a meal or a drink.  WAP recommends adding gelatin from cartilage or knuckles or even powdered unflavored gelatin packets.  And, by the way, the fat is supposed to be consumed not drained off.  According to both WAP and GAPS, animal fat from pastured animals is good for you and essential to normal digestive functioning.

Any basic stock consists of:

  • Onion, celery and carrot
  • Meat and/or bones and/or cartilage/knuckles
  • Filtered water
  • Celtic sea salt, peppercorns, herbs such as parsley and thyme
I made my first beef stock in my slow cooker and it is kick ass!  I did the super easy version; toss everything in and walk away.  There are several versions that recommend roasting the meat in the oven first to add a layer of flavor but heck the stuff I made is chock full of flavor.  Be sure to use organic ingredients and Celtic sea salt.  This reduces toxic load and adds helpful trace minerals to the stock.

Makes roughly 5 pints

2lbs 100% grass fed beef oxtails (make sure it hasn't been grained off*) with bones
3 large carrots
3 stalks celery
1/2 large onion
1t peppercorns
1 bunch fresh parsley
several sprigs fresh thyme
1t Celtic sea salt

  1. Peel onion and cut into large chunks.
  2. Cut nasty looking bits off celery and carrot and cut down to fit in slow cooker.  For mine this meant cutting in half.  The larger the bits the better.  Don't bother peeling.  Just rinse and cook.
  3. Place meat in cooker.  Add everything else.
  4. Cover ingredients with filtered water leaving at least and inch from the top edge of cooker.
  5. Set on low, cover and walk away.
  6. Several hours later come back and skim off any scum that has risen to the surface and discard.
  7. Check again several hour later and skim again if necessary.
  8. Cook a minimum of 8 hours preferably 12-24.  I think I cooked mine closer to 30.
  9. Remove large pieces and discard.  Reserve meat and marrow if so inclined.
  10. Run broth through a fine mesh sieve or through cheesecloth to remove pieces.
  11. Fill clean storage containers with broth.  Let come to room temp and then freeze (this is the easiest storage method by far).  
  12. Meat and marrow can be added back into broth as desired and can even be pureed first.
  13. To reheat use stove top.  It is rumored that the microwave destroys the nutrients in the food but I haven't seen any science behind that claim.
To add a layer of flavor to the soup (I haven't done this yet so I can't make any claims that it makes it way better than it already is), roast the meat and vegetables in a 350F oven for about an hour until the meat is nicely browned.  You can deglaze the roasting pan with stock, water or red wine and add this to the slow cooker if desired.  Honestly the soup is fantastic as is so I'm not sure this step is worth the extra trouble.  Maybe if I were feeling better myself I would give it a go but honestly the broth is wonderful without this step.

*In the US, meat processors are allowed to call cattle that has spent up to one month eating a grain diet pastured if it was grass fed prior to the grains.  However, the body chemistry of the cows change in this short time and many of the benefits of pasturing are lost in the graining off of the cattle.  Make sure the beef you purchase is 100% grass fed and has NOT been grained off.

See U.S. Wellness Meats on the resource page for more information about the benefits of eating 100% grass fed beef.

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