Back to Basics: Beef Broth

The second installment of our “Back to Basics” recipe series is the Yin to the Yang of our first recipe, chicken stock – beef broth. Beef broth is surely less practical than chicken stock, especially when you can pick up a quart of “beef broth” at the grocery store for around $2.00. However, store-bought broth and homemade broth are two very different things. Let’s get into the recipe and we’ll talk about why they are different afterwards.

Beef Broth Ingredients:

  1. 3# Oxtail
  2. 2 Tbsp. Light Olive Oil
  3. ½ # Carrot
  4. 1 # Onion
  5. ½ # Celery
  6. 6 Oz. Tomato Paste
  7. 6 Ea. Bay Leaves
  8. 2 Head Garlic
  9. 2-Gal Water
  10. 2 Ea. Leeks (Whites & Greens Thoroughly Washed)

Beef Broth Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Lightly coat the oxtail with olive oil and roast in the oven for 30 minutes.
  3. After 30 minutes, remove from the oven and coat with 6oz of tomato paste.
  4. Place oxtail back in the oven for another 15 to 20 minutes.
  5. Add the oxtail to a large stock pot and completely cover with cold water.
  6. Bring to a simmer while constantly skimming impurities.
  7. After 10-15 minutes of skimming add remaining ingredients and bring back to simmer.
  8. Simmer for 8-10 hours skimming once every hour.
  9. After 10 hours remove from heat and strain through large colander. Then through fine mesh sieve.
  10. Cool in an ice bath and place in the refrigerator for up to a week, alternatively you can freeze it for a few months.

Recipe Recap

The most notable difference between the store-bought beef broth and our homemade broth is the addition of collagen and gelatin. When we use cuts of meat dense in connective tissue and bones, we get the these two components. While nutritionally beneficial it also adds a silky mouthfeel component.  Picture the difference between skim milk and heavy cream or full fat milk. You’ll also notice, if you compare our chicken stock recipe, that our cooking time has almost doubled. This is because beef bones, being higher in gelatin, take longer to release it all into our broth.

Stock Vs Broth

The simple explanation to differentiate between stock and broth is stock is made with bones, broth is made with meat. When writing these recipes, I wanted them to be somewhat realistic for a home cook to want to execute and I didn’t think it was feasible to spend $40-50 in bones to make beef stock. If you have access to beef bones, simply substitute them in for the oxtail, but you will have to use more to achieve the same flavor as beef bones won’t give up as much flavor as meat will.

Vegetable Cut Size

Since we are cooking this for so much longer, I would recommend leaving most of the vegetables whole.  I cut the onions in half, but I left the carrot and celery intact. You’ll see that our cook time will directly correlate with our vegetable size. For the Chicken stock recipe (link), we cut the veggies into large chunks, for our shrimp/seafood stock we will fine dice them, and in this case, we left them whole.

Ice Bath Cooling

When you are trying to cool large amounts of a hot liquid, you have very few viable options. While you CAN simply place the liquid directly in your refrigerator, anyone who has done any appliance repair will tell you it hits the compressor in your fridge very hard. Not to mention, it takes a very long time for air to remove enough heat to get the broth/stock out of the temperature danger zone.

This is easily avoidable by simply placing whatever we are trying to cool into the kitchen sink filled with cold water and ice cubes. You can just use cold water if you like, but you will need a way to keep the water cold, either by refilling or by having a way to cycle the water heated by the broth out and fresh cold-water in. An ice bath is truly the most foolproof way to cool stocks & broths quickly and safely.

Final Thoughts

In our “Back to Basics” series, beef broth serves as the complement to chicken stock, showcasing the nuanced differences between homemade and store-bought versions. This recipe utilizes oxtail, rich in collagen and gelatin, offering a velvety texture and distinctive depth of flavor absent in commercial broths. The prolonged cooking time extracts these components, distinguishing it from quick alternatives available in stores. Understanding the distinction between stock and broth, the recipe emphasizes the use of bones for stock, while offering flexibility for ingredient substitution based on availability and practicality. Cooling the broth efficiently in an ice bath ensures safe and rapid temperature reduction, an essential step in preserving its quality.