Earth Day Equals Beef Stock

Happy Earth Day! I think it's a rule somewhere that if you have a blog about sustainability and green living you HAVE to post on Earth Day. Oh, it's not? Well, it should be. We went back and forth about what to post today - recipes? An in-depth look at sustainable shampoo options? An entire entry about how excited we were that our community garden opened today only to find out that the plot they assigned us doesn't exist? (Don't fret, they're working on a fix!) And then, it hit us... A couple of weeks ago we were in Madison visiting some friends and we went to Tornado Steakhouse for dinner. They have local, grass fed beef and all sorts of seasonal fruits and vegetables. We were excited! We ordered the 18oz. prime rib special to share, but somewhere along the line there was a mix-up, so while we did split the salad, we each got our own prime rib entree. That's 18oz. of prime rib PER PERSON. We both did our best, but definitely ended up taking a lot home. We ate what we could, but were left with some really fatty ends that we didn't want to throw away or give to the pets, so we decided to make beef stock.

A quart of homemade beef stock.
A quart of homemade beef stock.

Listen up, y'all, this is the part that may change some of your lives (I mean, it certainly changed ours once we figured it out). We try our best not to waste any of the food we bring into our home. That means eating what's edible and then making use of what is often seen as inedible. We keep three gallon-size freezer bags in our freezer at all times. One is for meat/bones, one is for veggie scraps, and one is for worm food (which we'll get into in a later post). Whenever we get a rotisserie chicken or some sort of meat, we put the skin, bones, and a little meat in the meat/bones bag. All of our veggie scraps go into the veggie scrap bag. We also save the rinds from hard cheeses and throw those into our stocks as well. When the veggie bag is full, we make stock. If we happen to have meat/bones, we'll make meat stock, but we eat way more veggies than meat, so sometimes we'll just make veggie stock. If you don't make stock at home, you should try. It's incredibly easy and is always SO MUCH BETTER than store-bought stock.

So, back to our beef stock. We didn't have any bones, so the stock wasn't quite as flavorful as it normally is, but it was delicious. Unfortunately, once we made it it sat in our fridge for a bit because we don't normally cook with beef broth. I was at the market trying to figure out what food to make for the week when I remembered the beef broth. I knew we had onion, celery, carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, and rice in the pantry, so I decided to make a soup. I picked up some ground beef (I wanted to do chunks, but the ground was the most humane available - grass fed, pastured - so I went with that option) and headed home. A little browned ground beef, sauteed mire poix, and chopped potatoes went into the crock pot, was covered with beef stock, and cooked on low for about six hours. Then we stirred some rice in and let it sit on warm overnight. YOU GUYS. THIS SOUP. I CAN'T. It was perfect for that weird snowstorm we had on Friday. Gotta love spring snowstorms.

Check out our recipes after the jump! Also, we still have 1.5 quarts of stock left. What are your favorite recipes that use beef stock? Let us know in the comments!

Basic Stock

We usually use a 5-quart crock pot for this, but have made it in a stock pot on the stove as well. We don't usually measure what we put in, we just eyeball it and let 'er go.

Veggie scraps

Chicken carcass or other meat/bone combo (optional)

Hard cheese rind (optional)

Water to cover

Vinegar (if using bones)

Put the scraps, meat/bones, and cheese rind into the crock pot. The crock pot should be about 3/4 full, loosely packed.

Fill with water until it's about 0.5-1 inches below the rim of the crock pot.

If you're using bones, add a couple glugs (2-4 Tbsp) of vinegar (we use apple cider vinegar) and let it sit for about an hour. This helps draw out the minerals and will help the stock to gel.

Turn the crockpot on low and let it cook overnight. Your stock should simmer, but never boil, so make sure you keep an eye on it, especially if you're cooking it on the stove.

Strain out the solids and pour into jars.

Let cool before storing in the fridge or freezer.

We usually end up with 3.5-4 quarts.

Beef and Vegetable Stew

1 lb grass-fed, pastured ground beef

6 red potatoes, cubed

3 carrots, chopped

1 onion, large diced

6-8 celery ribs, sliced

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 quarts beef stock

1 cup rice

dash Sage

dash Rosemary

Salt

Pepper

2 pats Butter

Melt 1 pat butter in a large pan over medium heat. Add the diced onions and sauté until translucent. Add the ground beef, sage, rosemary, and a pinch of salt and cook through, stirring every once in a while.

When the beef is cooked, transfer the beef and onion mixture to the crock pot. Put the pan back on the stove, melt the other pat of butter, add the celery and carrots and cook until slightly softened.

Add these to the crock pot as well. Add the potatoes to the crock pot and cover everything with the 2 quarts of beef stock.

Cook on low for 5-6 hours. Add 1 cup of rice, switch the crock pot to warm, and let sit for another few hours (or overnight).

The rice will absorb a lot of the cooking liquid and it will turn from a soup into more of a stew.

If you want more of a soupy consistency, feel free to leave out the rice. Sprinkle with sea salt (we like Sel Gris) before serving.