Long-cooking stock in your oven

January 26, 2012 · 12 comments

stock-in-jar

I know, I’m a stock-pusher. I’ve made my arguments not once, but twice, about why everyone should make their own, and kiss those cans and boxes of re-hydrated powdered flavorings goodbye.

Bone broth is nothing short of magical. It’s the reason chicken soup got such a good rep — medicinal for just about every ailment. Got a cold or the flu? Warm yourself with broth. Got the stomach bug? My pediatrician just told me that the gut irritation from a bug can be healed completely in 48 hours if your diet is broth-heavy. Break your arm? Just checking to see if you’re paying attention (though I wouldn’t doubt it somehow helps that too).

The healing qualities of bone broth come from — duh — the bones. But you need to cook it for a long time — 12-24 hours — to get the maximum minerals and nutrients out of the bones and into the liquid. This was something I didn’t always know — and once I knew, I didn’t know how to accomplish.

Some people cook their stock in a crockpot, which is totally safe to leave on for 24 hours, and extremely energy-efficient. But my crockpot is only a 4-quart model, which means I’d likely only get 3 quarts of stock. If I’m going to make stock, I want to get at least double that amount, so I use my 8-quart stockpot (though I’m shopping for a 12-quartinsert tween-ish squeal here).

The trick was always how to cook the stock for long enough. I’m fine leaving the pot on the stove all day, but what about at night? My obsessive tendencies would go into overdrive if I tried to sleep with an open flame left burning on my stovetop. The simple answer? My oven.

Stock is best-cooked when it barely simmers — just a tiny bubble or two breaking the surface every now and again. If you bring a pot up to simmer on the stovetop, you can transfer it to a 200° oven, partially-covered, and let it cook overnight. Totally brilliant (and not, mind you, my idea).

stock-oven

Other things to consider while you gather the things in your kitchen necessary for stock-making (since I know you’re going to do it):

  • Feel like you never have the right veggies on-hand when you need them? In my mind, only 3 are necessary: celery, carrot, and onion. Put a ziplock bag in your freezer, and when you have ends and pieces from other recipes, throw them in the bag instead of the trash. Or, buy celery and cut up a few stalks to freeze specifically for stock-making. You can toss them frozen into the pot.
  • You can make stock from just about any type of bones (though I don’t recommend mixing them up). I most frequently use chicken, but have made beef and lamb stock after buying bones from the farmer’s market (usually $2-3 a pound). A good ratio to use is 1-2 quarts water for every pound of bones (the less water, the richer the stock).
  • Once your stock is strained and refrigerated, you can scrape off the top layer of fat and freeze in Tbsp portions (I use ice trays) for future use. Animal fats are good for high-heat cooking, and add flavor and richness to soups.
  • You can freeze your stock in ziplock bags, but I now prefer to use wide-mouth (NOT regular-mouth) quart mason jars. You can read more about freezing stock here.
  • I have yet to try this, but I’ve read recently that you can use bones for more than one batch of stock. I’d be more likely to do this with beef or lamb bones, since chicken bones seem truly spent after simmering 24 hours. Even more bang for your buck!
  • Letting the bones soak for a little while in water with apple cider vinegar helps draw out the calcium & nutrients.
  • If your stock, once cold, is gelatinous, you’ve made a killer batch. Congrats!
  • Stock will keep for up to a week in the refrigerator. Freeze for longer storage.

stock-straining

 

Recipe: Long-cooking stock (bone broth)

: The recipe shows ranges of quantities because it depends on the amount of bones you have — thankfully it’s not an exact science!

Ingredients

  • 3-6 pounds bones (use any of one type: chicken, beef, lamb — if possible use some with meat still attached, and some with joints)
  • 2-4 Tbsp apple cider vinegar (optional)
  • 1-2 ribs celery, with tops, chopped into 2″ lengths
  • 1-2 carrots, unpeeled & scrubbed, chopped into 2″ lengths
  • 1-2 onions, unpeeled & quartered
  • 1-2 bay leaves (optional)
  • a few sprigs fresh parsley (optional)
  • 4-10 quarts filtered water (1-2 quarts per pound of bones)

Instructions

  1. In a large stockpot or dutch oven, combine the bones, vinegar, and water to cover. Let sit 20 minutes.
  2. Add the vegetables & herbs to the pot, and enough water to cover (only fill to within an inch of the rim).
  3. Bring to a simmer on the stovetop. Skim foam as it rises to the top (discard).
  4. Meantime, preheat oven to 200°.
  5. Once stock is simmering, transfer to oven and cook, partially-covered, 18-24 hours (set a baking time if necessary so oven doesn’t auto-shut-off). It’s fine to transfer the pot back to the stovetop at any point in cooking.
  6. Once done, strain the stock into 1-2 large bowls. Cool over an ice bath, and strain again into quart-sized canning jars (if freezing, only fill within 1 inch of the top to allow for liquid expansion).

Copyright © Katy Carter, 2011.

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{ 12 comments }

Beth January 26, 2012 at 6:31 pm

I made some ham stock last week and while it was delicious I feel like my recipe needs fine tuning. I’ll have to give the ratios above a try. And I didn’t know to let it stand in the vinegar before I turned on the heat. Thanks for the ideas!

katy January 27, 2012 at 8:14 am

Beth — you know, ham stock might be a little different — I’ve never made stock w/ ham (though I’ve used a hambone in soups to add flavor). Wondering if the ham, since it is smoked, is enough that adding the aromatic vegetables won’t change the flavor much? Definitely worth experimentation. Let me know how your future batches turn out!

SMITH BITES January 27, 2012 at 8:53 am

i started making stock this way since reading Michael Ruhlman’s post on it about 2yrs ago . . . absolutely fantastic stock, soooo easy and tastes exponentially better than anything you can purchase from the store. i usually start mine about noon, then leave overnight in the oven and by the next morning the entire house smells fantastic and my stomach is growling!

kelly January 27, 2012 at 2:52 pm

I don’t like celery, so I never use it when making broth – just the onions and carrots. What am I missing out on? Do you know what the celery adds? If it’s just flavor, I don’t mind missing out :)
The other day I cooked a chicken for 9 hours in the crockpot, we ate it for dinner, then I threw all the leftover juices and bones in a pot, added water, and made broth out of that. It still turned out really gelatinous, so I’m thinking it worked “cooking” it twice?

katy January 27, 2012 at 4:55 pm

Kelly, I would try to add celery sometime. It doesn’t make it taste overtly celery-ish, and likely rounds out the flavors. It might be that when the flavor of celery is separated from the texture, you like it?

Angie @ Just Like The Number January 28, 2012 at 11:25 pm

I will vouch for the gut-healing properties of good stock. My mom brought over turkey stock the day of my surgery and it set me straight after 2 days of nausea. One week later I came down with a nasty stomach bug – once again the stock saved the day. It would coagulate into a gelatinous mass in the fridge and then heat up to the most lovely, silky, comforting soup. When I’m sick this is what I crave. It’s like our bodies know what we need, and it isn’t Progresso.

Mike January 29, 2012 at 5:13 pm

Bones. Ahh them bones.
“well nourished in body,
bones rich with marrow.” (Job 21:24 NIV)

katy January 30, 2012 at 7:54 pm

: )

Stefanii Ferenczi January 29, 2012 at 7:59 pm

I think I have pot-envy over your beautiful blue pot…I often look longingly at the very large stock pots in our Mexican grocery next door…I’ve loved doing my stock in the oven! Such a comforting smell to wake up to in the morning!

katy January 30, 2012 at 7:55 pm

Stef, I love my pot. But honestly it’s not the best for making stock — the large surface area on top allows for too much evaporation. I get better results in my stockpot, but still use the dutch-oven when I’m making a smaller amount.

Angie January 30, 2012 at 5:56 pm

This might be a dumb question, but do you just go to the meat department in Kroger and ask for bones??

katy January 30, 2012 at 7:58 pm

Not dumb. But a complicated answer:

I have my doubts that Kroger will have bones — I think so much comes pre-packaged to them these days. But it’s definitely worth a try — ask at the meat counter for soup bones and marrow bones.

But also look at this site:
http://www.eatwild.com/products/mississippi.html
See if you can order bones from a grassfed farm and make stock from them — the bones from grassfed cattle are much better, because the nutrients are a healthy ratio of omega 3-to-6’s. Feed lot beef is the unhealthy ratio, which gets passed on to us when we consume their products.

If it’s canned broth or feed-lot-beef broth, though — go for the latter!

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