Although bone broth has enjoyed recent trendiness, it’s been around for a long, long time—just not by the same name. “Stock” refers to a simmered liquid made from roasted bones, while “broth” is usually made from meatier parts (and so, is a clearer, lighter-tasting liquid). “Bone broth” then, is a bit of a misnomer. We’ve come to expect the deep-dark, viscous, collagen-richness of a *stock*, but enjoy the cozy, tea-like connotations of *broth*.
Save “center-cut” (the middle section of femur bones) marrow bones for toast, and use "knuckle bones" (cut from either end of center-cut bones) for this broth. Knuckle bones have enough marrow to contribute collagen-rich gelatin to our broth, but not so much as to give the broth an unpleasant fattiness. Your local butcher shop will certainly have some laying around.
The aromatics suggested here are classic for stock, but feel free to use whatever you’ve got on hand. Vegetables, herbs, and spices add much-needed sweetness, freshness, and warmth to what can be an unpleasantly heavy, one-note liquid. Wash the vegetables and herbs well, but leave the peeler in the drawer. Skins are not trash, they’re flavor!
Below, you’ll find two ways to tackle broth-making: pressure cooker or Instant Pot, and stovetop. While not impossible, the stovetop method requires at least 12 hours more than the pressure cooker one. Personally, I’m not totally keen on leaving the stove on for that long (mostly because it means being home and awake that long); but, if you’re planning on being home all day and enjoy the smell of beef in the air, the stovetop method is more than fine.
After enjoying a few mugfuls (savory afternoon tea, anyone?), use the jiggly broth to quickly build unctuous pasta sauces, stews, and soups. —Coral Lee
Test Kitchen Notes
This is one of Food52’s Best Recipes. In this series, our test kitchen sets out to create the ultimate version of your favorite recipes. Let us know on the Hotline if there's one you'd love to see next. —The Editors
2 hours 10 minutes
4 hours 20 minutes
2 to 3 quarts, depending on the method
extra-virgin olive oil
mixed beef bones (such as marrow, short rib, and knuckle), split and cut to 6-inch lengths
Heat the oven to 450°F. Whisk the oil and tomato paste in a large mixing bowl. Add the bones, onion halves, and carrot, and toss to coat. Roast for 20 minutes, flipping halfway, or until everything’s taken on a bit of color. Depending on your preferred method, head to step 2 or 3.
*Instant Pot (or pressure cooker) method:* Transfer the bones, onion, and carrot to a pressure cooker, and add enough water to reach the Max line. Float in the herbs and spices, and cook on High pressure for 4 hours. Let cooker depressurize on its own, then proceed to step 4.
*Stovetop method:* Transfer the bones, onion, and carrot to a large stockpot, and fill with enough water to just barely cover the ingredients. Float in herbs and spices, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, and cook at a gentle simmer, adjusting the heat as needed, for at least 16 and up to 24 hours.
Season the stock to taste with salt, and let cool until warmish. When cool enough to handle, pour through a fine-mesh strainer into airtight containers (you should have about 3 quarts from the pressure cooker method, 2 quarts from the stovetop). Chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours, or until the stock is jellified and fat has formed a solid lid. Spoon off the fat, and reserve it for another use (like roasting vegetables, toasting bread, or frying potatoes).
Coral Lee is an Associate Editor at Food52. Before this, she cooked food solely for photos. Before that, she cooked food solely for customers. And before that, she shot lasers at frescoes in Herculaneum and taught yoga.
When she's not writing about or making food, she's thinking about it. Her Heritage Radio Network show, "Meant to be Eaten," explores cross-cultural exchange as afforded by food. You can follow her on Instagram @meanttobeeaten.