Beef Marrow Bone Stock

13 Feb

NOTE: An updated version of this recipe appears in my cookbook, The Ancestral Table.

Many stores or butcher shops have beef marrow bones on the cheap, which make a dense and highly nutritious stock and excellent soup base. Although I’ve made my own stock using oxtails I’ve been wanting to try my hand at other soups, so marrow bones seemed like the best starting spot.

Before we dive into this recipe, let’s have a quick culinary lesson. “Stock” refers to a liquid that’s made from simmering bones, and “broth” is made from meat. You can use both, and as far as I know that’s still referred to as “stock”. Now that we have that cleared up, let’s make some food.

You’ll need: 4-5 lbs beef marrow bones, 8 garlic cloves, 3 chopped carrots (or 12 baby carrots), 2 chopped stalks of celery, 2 tsp coconut oil, 10 peppercorns, 2 bay leaves, some fresh parsley

I should note that we were out of celery when making this recipe, so I’m lacking in that department. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, and place the bones, garlic and veggies in a roasting pan that’s lined with the coconut oil. Roast the bones in the oven for about 45 minutes, flipping the bones after about 30 minutes.

Take the nicely-browned chunks and add them to a pot. If there are any pieces stuck to the bottom of the pan (there’s shouldn’t be, thanks to the coconut oil), scrape them up and add them to the pot.

Add the bay leaves, peppercorns, and parsley. Fill the pot with enough water to cover the bones with an inch of water. Bring the stove to medium heat.

When the water shows its first signs of starting to boil, reduce the heat to low and gently simmer for at least 6 hours without stirring. The longer you simmer, the more potent and reduced your stock will be – you can even simmer it for 24 hours if you’d like. You don’t want to bring it to a boil at any time – a slow simmer is best.

Take a different pot and place a colander over it, and then a cheese cloth over the colander. Pour everything into the colander and let it drain for 10 minutes.

You should get a clear, beautiful beef stock. Pour it into some mason jars and let it cool before putting it in the fridge.

As a word of warning, straight bone stock smells and tastes unlike what you might expect. This is normal, and your soups will still turn out great. If you want a more traditional, “beefy” taste from the outset, you can add some beef chunks with the bones.

32 Responses to “Beef Marrow Bone Stock”

  1. Anonymous February 13, 2011 at 3:43 pm #

    so what does it smell like?

    • Russ Crandall February 13, 2011 at 4:11 pm #

      it’s a fairly pungent smell, but tastes great. my first thought was that it was a bit rancid, but that’s just how roasted and simmered bones smell. once you mix it with beef pieces or dilute it in water that smell goes away.

  2. Patty February 15, 2011 at 4:14 pm #

    About the smell, it smells a lot better than lamb to me :-)

    Russ, thanks for sharing this and the beef jerky on chowstalker! I’m actually going to try slicing some pork side with my food processor after seeing your video!

    • Russ Crandall February 15, 2011 at 8:09 pm #

      Hi Patty, I love chowstalker. It’s a great concept. I would suggest freezing the pork side for 10-20 minutes before slicing to get a more even slice. Good luck!

      • Patty February 15, 2011 at 11:08 pm #

        Thanks Russ! I’ll be sure to do that with the side, and let you know how it goes. And BTW, that’s a good looking boy I see around your blog!

  3. Rada Labe February 23, 2011 at 11:52 am #

    Great recipe. thanks. But I’m wondering what the difference is between putting the veggies and bones and meat directly into the pot rather than roasting first.

    • Russ Crandall February 23, 2011 at 6:43 pm #

      Hi Rada,

      From what I had read, roasting the bones starts a caramelization process, which results in a more “roasted” flavor in the stock. When I make pho broth with oxtails, I don’t roast them and it definitely has a less robust smell…

  4. MarkES August 30, 2011 at 8:23 am #

    Hi Russ,

    Just wanted to let you know the oxtails link in the post seems to be broken:
    “I’ve made my own stock using oxtails”

    Thanks for the PHD recipe!

  5. justincascio December 28, 2011 at 9:41 pm #

    Does your bone stock gel when refrigerated, when you don’t use meat as well as marrow bones?

    • Russ Crandall December 29, 2011 at 7:46 am #

      Hi Justin,

      It definitely gels when refrigerated, depending on how concentrated the stock is. The batch in this post was only simmered for about six hours, so it was mostly liquid; lately I’ve been simmering for 12+ and it gets pretty thick when cooled (and a bit darker). I’ve been storing the jars in the freezer and then running hot water over the jar until it’s thawed enough for the frozen block to slide out.

  6. Mario January 6, 2012 at 2:57 pm #

    Are pig feet acceptable?

    • Russ Crandall January 6, 2012 at 3:29 pm #

      Mario, you can totally make stock/broth with pig’s feet. In fact, many chefs prefer to make soups using a broth made from pig’s feet – the collagen brings a silky texture to the broth. You probably don’t need to roast the feet beforehand, however – and here is a link to a ham stock recipe I did last year that might be of help:

  7. thatgirldownsouth January 23, 2012 at 8:00 pm #

    I’m making some stock currently. I wondered about the smell myself. Thanks for clearing that up. Do you scrape the marrow out into your stock?

    • Russ Crandall January 23, 2012 at 9:26 pm #

      I usually don’t scrape the marrow into the stock, but that’s a great idea and I think I’m going to try it next time! :)

  8. Troy June 3, 2012 at 9:07 pm #

    Hi, I used marrow bone for the first time to make stock. I didn’t “pre roast” the bones. Just straight into the water with all the veg. After cooking for 2-3 hrs. It was all oily and unusable!
    Is this normal? Does roasting get rid of all the fat?

    • Paige Cromar Jones September 21, 2014 at 11:23 am #

      Keep the fat as tallow for other uses if you are using grass fed sourced bones. Just refrigerate broth/stock and it will rise to the top and harden for easy removal

  9. Sonia November 12, 2013 at 10:34 am #

    HI there…
    I’m making the “marrow bone” stock now, for the 3rd time. Its soooooooooo good and really good for you as well. I recently had an accident were I fell down a flight of stairs in my building. My physical therapist suggested that I drink a cup of the bone stock a day. It has amino acids that are spacificly for the re-building of the tissue around joints and great for joints themselves. So, because of this, I lik the keep all the fat in the soup. BUT, its not for everyone so what I do is after I’m done w the soup, I just put it in the fridge and after a couple of hours the soup separates itself from the oil/fat. I just scrape off the fat when its done. It was nice to come across this sight, so helpful! Thanks, Russ!


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