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Homemade Beef Broth from Meaty Ribs

Makes about 4 cups

I believe that every cook should know how to make a good stock or broth. Basically, the difference between the two is that a stock is made from mostly bones, and a broth is made from mostly meat. Although either method is easy, it takes a lot of time, mostly hands off, so plan ahead and make it on a day that you have the time. There are some reasonably good commercial beef broths available, but the best are very high in sodium and, usually, other flavor enhancers. I use store-bought low-sodium broth occasionally, but for soups, where flavor is essential, I like to make my own. This recipe can be used as a base for any recipe. If I know I am going to use it for a particular recipe, I might add other herbs or spices as indicated. The broth can be reduced as much as you like. See the reduction notes below for details.

Ingredients

Preheat oven to 475° F. Season the ribs with salt and pepper and place in a single layer in a shallow roasting pan, meaty side up. Roast until very brown, about 1 hour, turning once to brown both sides. Remove from pan. Pour off fat from roasting pan. Place pan over high heat; add water and cook, scraping up all the browned bits from the bottom.

Place the ribs and pan juices in a large stockpot along with the other ingredients, adding just enough water to cover. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to medium-low; cover and simmer until the meat and vegetables are very tender, about 2 hours. Strain through a colander or sieve. Discard meat and vegetables. Skim fat off broth. (I usually chill the broth in the refrigerator so that the fat congeals on top. Makes it very easy to remove. However, if you want to use the broth that day, you can use one of the many methods for removing fat from liquid.)

Reductions: At this point, there are several options. You can use or freeze the broth as is. If I am going to store it in the freezer for a soup broth, I reduce it by boiling, uncovered, until it will fit in a particular container. Then I add water when I use it. Sometimes I make a demiglace. That requires further reduction, until the stock is very thick and almost syrupy. I freeze it in ice cube trays and place the frozen cubes in a plastic bag for storage. One of those cubes is great for use in a sauce.

Notes: Years ago you could purchase meaty soup bones from the butcher, or even the supermarket, that were inexpensive and full of flavor. If you can get those, by all means, use them instead of ribs. These days, the only bones I can get have very little meat, therefore, not as much flavor. However, they still make a good beef stock with the addition of dry red wine and tomato paste to fortify the flavor. I listed that recipe in the in the similar and related recipes links. For this recipe, I wait until the ribs are on sale and use them. Although you end up discarding the meat, it is well utilized because all the flavor is transferred to the broth.