I've been making this chicken bone broth for the past year, and it's become a staple in our diet. I make a large batch every few weeks, freeze it in portions to feed two people, and we devour it as soup.
I've been adding all sorts of different ingredients to the broth, mostly vegetables, herbs and spices, which has added surprising variety to such a quick and simple dinner. Our favorite rendition is still this egg drop soup, although we’re enjoying other versions using Vietnamese spices, zucchini noodles, and chunks of fresh seafood, too.
I have to admit, knowing how utterly healthy bone broth is does make us feel a little virtuous on the occasions we have it for dinner. And unlike other ‘virtuous’ meals, we always feel properly satiated. It’s true that soup generally has a habit of filling you up, partly because it takes some time to eat, but I think the high protein content in bone broth is what really does the trick.
Anyway, given how much bone broth we now consume, I thought I'd turn myself to working on a beef bone recipe.
I ended up in a bit of an Internet rabbit hole, reading dozens of articles and recipes for how to make the best beef bone broth. Of course there was some consensus, particularly regarding the general health benefits, but there was also a lot of disagreement. There were strong opinions about whether to blanch and/or roast the bones before boiling them, how best to extract as much gelatin as possible, and which aromatics to use. Cooking times also varied by days!
Based on this research I decided to compile my own series of recipes, and test them. Here’s what I came up with (and make sure to scroll to the end for all the cooking notes)…
6 pounds of beef bones - you’re looking for bones like marrow, knuckles, ribs, and feet.
12-16 cups water - use as much or little as you need.
6 chicken feet
3 cups onion, finely diced
1½ cups carrot, finely diced
1½ cups celery, finely diced
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
3 bay leaves
¼ cup black peppercorns
2 tbsp thyme leaves
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
Place the beef bones on a roasting tray and roast in the oven until browned, around 30-40 minutes. You are roasting the bones before boiling them to enhance the flavor of the broth, so you want to make sure the bones are thoroughly roasted - don’t worry if they’re a bit brown!
Once roasted, remove the bones from the oven and discard any excess fat from the pan.
Add the water, chicken feet, onion, carrot, celery, bay leaves, peppercorns, and thyme, along with the roasted beef bones to a large pot. It’s important that there is always enough water in your pot, with an inch of water covering the top of the bones at all time. So please adjust accordingly, and add more water whenever it’s needed.
Set on high and bring to the boil. Once boiling, reduce to a low simmer and cook overnight for 24 hours.
When you’re satisfied that your bone broth has simmered for long enough, it’s time to strain the mixture using a fine mesh sieve.
Pour the broth into shallow containers to cool overnight in the fridge. Any excess fat will raise to the surface of the broth once it has cooled, when you can scrape it off and discard it.
I don’t use salt in this recipe so that I have complete flexibility with how I can use the broth later. However, if you want to drink it as a soup, it will require seasoning with salt to taste. Alternatively, if you prefer to season the bones before roasting them, that's another option.
I used the traditional ratio of onion to carrot and celery for the mirepoix, and finely diced the ingredients so that they’d impart as much flavor as possible in the broth. If you’re short on time and want to roughly chop them, that’s fine too.
I have added chicken feet to this recipe for extra gelatin, and they don’t compromise the flavor at all. However, I did also experiment with using pigs feet and I found the resulting smell and taste of the broth a lot less desirable.
Some sources claim that you need to blanch the bones before roasting them to remove impurities from the bones. I didn’t find this to be necessary. However, it is essential to roast the bones thoroughly before boiling them to ensure a delicious tasting broth.
The apple cider vinegar is used to help extract calcium from the bones and does not affect the taste of the broth in the slightest.
I also experimented with cooking times of up to 48 hours, but I believe that this recipe works perfectly if you simmer the ingredients for 24 hours. You’ll see the high gelatin content in this broth by the jelly-consistency of the liquid once it has cooled overnight in the fridge.
My personal preference is to start making the broth in the evening so that the simmering process is in its infancy overnight when I can’t watch it. Ideally I like to be around the following day when the ingredients have really started to reduce so I can keep a closer eye on things and stir or add water as needed.
If you’re using this broth for a fancy dinner party and want it to be really clear, you can strain the liquid multiple times using cheesecloth to remove any cloudiness.
This recipe multiplies easily - just so long as you have a big enough pot!
Lastly, we remove any dangerous bones and use the leftover meat and vegetable matter as organic food for some neighborhood dogs who seem to really appreciate it.