I love my cup of soup, especially in the winter (though officially winter is over, it is still cold as far as I am concerned). As a child I remember my mom making soup with the ribs, legs or spine of mutton (goat meat), spiced with fresh ground black pepper and cumin. My aunt used to make something that we used to called “aattuum brath” which technically means “goat broth”, but it was definitely more than just a goat broth. A sip of it was instant energy. (I found a website extolling the health benefits of beef neck bone broth)
Good broth or stock needs good bones – beef, chicken or mutton. That is a problem I have with my local grocery store. As much as I like it for its convenience – its open 24 hours and within walking distance from our place, I sometimes feel the store is “sanitized”, especially the meat section. They rarely stock anything beyond the most popular cuts of meat. For that I always have to depend on the Asian/Latino/International markets that are more concentrated in the suburbs which till now was kind of inaccessible to us. Now, since we have a “mode of transportation” the suburbs are now my oyster. This weekend we made a foray into one of the international food markets and I picked up a pound or so of beef neck bones along with other stuff that I have been so long deprived by the local store.
The stock I make from the neck bones is more of a gel which has a consistency of Jello-O, which I store in small sealed glass containers. In the refrigerator they stay good for a week, or they can be kept longer in the freezer. I use a scoop of it to incorporate into a soup or sometimes as a thickening (since the stock contains collagen) and flavoring agent for curries. The whole process is a overnight affair because it entails refrigerating the pot to congeal the fat
1. 1 pound (1/2 kilo) of beef neck bones
- 1 piece cinnamon
- 3 dried ancho chillies
- 4-5 dried Thai chillies
- 3-4 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon (tsp) cumin
- 2 mace florets
- 1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp asafoetida powder
3. Salt to taste
4. 1/2 cup vegetable stock and 3/4 cup of water
5. 2 tsp oil
Heat a pressure cooker on low heat and add the spices to it. Toast the spices for about 4-5 minutes stirring them continuously till you get a steady fragrant smell of spices. (Stirring helps to get all the surfaces of the spices get in contact with the heat and also prevents it from burning)
Increase the heat to medium and nestle in the beef neck bones and sear them on each side for about 5 minutes. I add a little bit of oil on the spices so that they don’t burn. Once both sides are seared add 1/2 cup of vegetable stock to the pan to deglaze.
Cover the pressure cooker with lid, and once the pan is pressurized cook for about 35 minutes. Release the pressure and open the pressure cooker. At this point I like to pull off the good pieces of meat and use it chopped in salads or stir-fry.
Add 3/4 cup of water and bring the pressure cooker back to heat. Once pressurized cook for about 45 minutes on low heat.
Take the cooker off flame and release the pressure. At this point the bones should be clean off all meat. Fish out the bones and discard them. Once the pan cools down keep it in refrigerator overnight to congeal the fat. It will rise up and solidify on top in a yellow layer. Scrap off the fat and discard it (or you can keep it in a bottle and use sparingly in curries etc.).
Below the fat layer will be the stock in Jell-o consistency. It should be medium-high spicy depending on the palate. Divide and store in clean glass containers and use as needed.