How To Make Beef Bone Broth on the Stove or in a Slow Cooker

How To Make Beef Bone Broth on the Stove or in a Slow Cooker

In the last few years, bone broth has become a grocery store staple. While you could always find beef broth or stock in the soup aisle of your grocery store, it wasn't until recently that you could discover bone broth being sold as well, let alone being served like a latté at the coffee counter. We have our wellness-minded, Paleo-eating friends to thank for reviving our love and admiration for this long-cooked homemade stock. Make no bones about it; bone broth is essentially a thicker, richer beef stock made by simmering collagen-rich beef bones until you end up with a rich, nutritious and deeply savory broth.

It's the kind of thing that's perfect for sipping from a mug on a cold day, or for dressing up and turning into a hearty soup for dinner. Want to try making it yourself? Let's do it!

What Is Bone Broth?

Bone broth honestly has been around for centuries — every world cuisine has their version. Historically, the bone broth was sometimes used as a health tonic, a warm breakfast, a handy ingredient for family dinners, or all of the above. It can be made with beef bones, pork bones, chicken bones, or a mix of all of them. It can also be flavored merely, with just a handful of vegetables, or it can be spiffed up with ingredients like fresh ginger, lemongrass, fish sauce, and dried mushrooms.

This slow-simmered bone broth is surprisingly delicate in flavor, with a delicate balance of umami savoriness and a pleasant, vegetal sweetness. While it's no panacea, current research shows it's full of good-for-you nutrients, amino acids, and minerals. You can certainly drink it straight (and you should, because it's tasty!), but you can also save it for making stews or casseroles, simmering grains, or using it in any manner of meals. You can use bone broth in any recipe that calls for chicken or beef stock.

The Best Bones for Bone Broth

The best bone broth uses a mix of different bones: large, nutrient-rich beef or pork bones, as well as some smaller tough cuts, so your broth has some flavor. I like to use a mix of big beef bones (saved from roasts or begged from the butcher), meaty short ribs or oxtails, and knuckle or neck bones. Those knuckle and neck bones have a lot of collagen, which gives the broth body and rich flavor.

You can also mix in bones and meaty cuts from other animals. Throw in a ham bone or shank, leftover turkey bones, some chicken feet — use whatever mix of bones you find or that sounds appealing to you.

Roast for the Best Flavor

Roasting adds an extra depth of flavor and richness to the soup, plus it makes a beautiful dark-colored broth. Also, a broth made with a lot of bare bones, without much meat, can sometimes have a bit of a metallic or sour flavor, and roasting the bones helps prevent this flavor.

I usually do this in the oven, rather than on the stovetop so that I can do the entire batch at once. If there are a lot of caramelized bits on the pan after roasting, I deglaze it with a splash of water on the stovetop and pour the brown bits in with the cooking liquid.

How Long to Cook Bone Broth

My instructors at culinary school would always say, "Cook it until it's done." Never is this maxim more true than with bone broth. Don't go by the clock; go by your nose, your taste buds, and the color of the broth. When it's done, the broth will be deeply savory and have a rich mahogany color.

In practical terms, cook your broth for at least 12 hours, then start checking it. I'm usually satisfied with my broth at around the 24-hour mark, but you can keep simmering for days. The bones will eventually begin to crumble when all their nutrients and proteins have been extracted — once you see this happening with the majority of your bones, you've probably extracted as much good as you're going to get.

The Slow Cooker and Electric Pressure Cooker

Cooking your broth for this long on the stove might make you raise your eyebrows and worry about fire hazards, but don't worry too much — we're talking about deficient heat. You can leave the broth on a back burner or put it in the oven at a low temperature and let it go overnight. If you need to leave the house and don't want to move your oven on, you can also make bone broth in a slow cooker. Directions for that method are below.

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