Friday, September 21, 2012

Boooo....I mean Mooooo....I mean YAY !!! Free Beef Bones !!

My wild goose chase has ended and I learned 2 valuable lessons.

#1. Never count on the big city grocery chain meat counters to help you out when looking for beef bones for stock making, and later, Louie snacks. My experience went like this: Enter major grocery store in Clive, browse meat selection, no beef bones, oxtail, or anything like that. A few puny short ribs but $9 each- ummmmm, no thanks. Inquire at meat counter "Do you have any beef bones suitable for making beef stock?" The "butcher" responded by saying "No, but over in the pet food aisle we have marrow bones for dogs, the shrink wrapped ones."   Sigh............I'm not making my beef stock from Alpo......

#2. Small towns are where it's at. One phone call to the locker in the nearby small town of Redfield and the answer was "Sure we do !! I can have them ready for you tomorrow."  My next question- "What do you charge for bones?" The response ?? "Oh gosh, we don't charge for bones." YAY !!!

So...... my little 15 mile or so road trip ends with me bringing home about 15 lbs of big chunky beef bones with lots of meaty bits still attached.  Of course, the smallest one immediately went to Louie, who occupied himself to the point of exhaustion with his new bone.

I rinsed these meaty monsters well, and placed them on pans to roast in a slow over (275 degrees) for 3 hours. While that was going on, I was able to catch up on some much needed housework, putting canned foods away, washing and cutting up carrots, celery and onion to add to the pot when it's time. I did have a pic of the veggies but since I am notoriously technology challenged, I managed to delete them- but you know what a carrot looks like.

My next dilemma was WHAT IN THE WORLD, or this house at least, am I going to cook all this beef stock in ?? Easy solution !! The water bath canner !!! So out of the oven and into the pot went the roasted beef bones (with all that excess fat rendered away) and the vegetables, a good big fat pinch of salt and a palmfull of peppercorns. I'm just going to let this amazing smelling pot of love simmer as long as possible- maybe overnight ?? I'll have to remove some shelves from the fridge to fit it in there to chill !

It's too close to bedtime to drag out the canning equipment and I don't think I've had enough simmer time to really make it yummy, so into the fridge the pot went, tomorrow I'll simmer for another 2-3 hours and see what it tastes like. Might be doing some canning !!!

Day 2 of stockmaking is going famously. Since it was in the fridge overnight I was able to skim off alot of the fat and get rid of that. Then I added 2 whole heads of garlic (just cut in half with the papery junk removed), a whole pile of parsley and several bay leaves. This will be the last night of simmering. I let it go for about 3 more hours and then skimmed off the delicious stock and had a HUGE pile of discarded bones and vegetables.

One more night in the fridge, one last chance to skim off the fat then tomorrow it's strain and heat and can this amazing beef stock!!

Alright......Friday night has arrived and the canning procedure is beginning. First step, make sure all the jars are cleaned, heated, and lids are hot and ready to go.

Next, remove stockpot from the fridge and skim off the last of the fat (which was TOTALLY gross because stock made from bones always has that gelatinous quality that is oh so gross if not cherry flavored) and then heat the stock to boiling.

Remember, I had to make the stock in the BWB- it was the only pot  I have that was big enough 
I set up my little assembly line- pressure canner filled and simmering, stock heated to boiling, jars and lids hot and ready, scoop, strainer and funnel, lots of paper towels and I'm on my way. Some people use a ladle to fill jars but amazingly, I don't have one, so I use a Pyrex measuring cup with a pour spout and poured it through a fine strainer placed in the funnel, placed in the jar.  Fill to correct headspace, wipe rim and fix lids and rings and into the simmering water in the canner they go. Repeat until canner is full !

Process according to your area- for me it's 15 lb pressure for 25 minutes for quarts. Then you know the drill- remove from heat and let canner reduce pressure to zero before opening. And at the end of my loooooong stock-making project I ended up with 9 quarts of beef stock, 100% homemade with not one thing artificial added!


Beef bones with bits of meat attached (I had about 12 lbs)
4-5 carrots, cut into thirds
5-6 stalks celery, with leaves, cut into thirds
one large onion, quartered
2 heads garlic, cut if half crosswise and most of papery skin removed
BIG bunch fresh parsley
1 cup cabernet sauvignon
water to fill stockpot

That's it !!

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