Breakaway Cook

Squash and Collard Soup with Homemade Beef Stock

The other day I roasted a huge batch of beef bones, since they came with my recent purchase of the amazing meat raised by Mike Gale at Chileno Valley ranch (four of us split an entire cow, yielding roughly 110 pounds of meat each — more on this later if anyone’s interested). In they went at 400, and out they came an hour later, browned and marrow a-bubble. After making a tasty little snack of toasted Tartine country loaf schmeared with marrow, avocado, and lavender salt, I threw them in two big stockpots, covered with water, and simmered for about six hours. I let it sit overnight, and in the morning each pot had a solid inch of fat on top. That got skimmed and used to make some seriously good French fries, and the stock was poured into eight ziplock bags and frozen.

Today I pulled a bag out and let it thaw. Meanwhile I chopped up a yellow zucchini, some de-backboned collard greens, a bunch of green onions, and sprinkled in plenty of smoked paprika salt and freshly ground pepper. The stock was added to that, then everything got blended in the VitaPrep. It was good, possibly even ethereally good. Another excellent quickie soup for the lunch repertoire.

It’s a rare treat for me to make beef stock — I wouldn’t really seek out 10 pounds of bones, roast them, do all the icky de-fatting (it gets *everywhere*), but when they’re presented to me in a bag, I certainly will. I normally use, and am happy with, the organic beef stock sold at TJs and Whole Foods in the tetrabox. I have a hunch my homemade would prevail in a blind taste test, but not by that much — maybe not enough to make it worthwhile on a regular basis. But then again, I did get eight quarts out of it . . . .

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