Okay, I’m really excited! I just found beef feet at my local Asian supermarket (for Vancouverites: the T&T Supermarket in Coquitlam Centre). Today I’m making bone broth from duck feet (chicken feet make excellent stock, but I’ve never tried duck feet before), but I’ve been wanting to make stock from beef feet for a few months now. I’ve used regular soup bones, which provide nice amounts of bone marrow (yum!), but the bone broth it produces tastes pretty weak and it’s low in gelatin (doesn’t gel very much). Oxtails make a much better, richer stock, but they’re expensive. I read online that beef feet (sliced hooves) were the way to go for good beef broth, so I’m really looking forward to making my next batch.
Some people make several batches of stock from the same bones. I haven’t done that yet, as I haven’t really felt the need to make the bones stretch that far. I think it makes good sense economically, if the nutrition is similar in each batch, but I don’t know how to judge that, other than maybe the amount of gelatin that forms each time. Anyone have any ideas or opinions on that?
Beef feet at $8.77/kg ($3.99/lb), is economical enough for me, as the amount of broth I’ll get will actually cost about $1.73 a meal (8 cups of broth), if I only use the bones once. Yes, oatmeal is a lot cheaper, but it’s not paleo and what value are you getting from oatmeal compared to bone broth? It’s not even in the same realm!
Bone broth has got to be one of the easiest things in the world to digest (as well as to make!) and when I have it for breakfast, it lasts me until noon or even later. Oatmeal, on the other hand, bloats me and lasts about an hour until I’m starving again, unless I add fat and/or protein to it, like cream or nuts. I might as well just have the cream and nuts for breakfast… no grains, no gluten!
All I ever add to bone broth is salt. Have you ever tried to eat oatmeal with just salt? I guess maybe if you’re Scottish you eat it that way (do you?), but most people load it with butter, cream, sugar, fruit, nuts or something else to make it palatable.
I noticed in the last few weeks that I’ve started to crave bone broth. I pretty much have it for breakfast every day now and I sometimes have it for an afternoon snack, too. I love how it picks me up and makes me feel all warm and nourished. I always feel like I’m taking really good care of myself when I have bone broth.
[Update: The first batch of broth from the beef feet produced an almost solid gel… amazing! So I decided to try a second batch. That batch is now in the fridge and looks like it will gel, too. A bit too early to tell, but I’ll update this once I’ve given it enough time. I decided to return the bones, fat and gristle to the crockpot for a third round of stock. I will update this as I get results.
If this works, it will bring down the cost of the stock considerably. As of today it would be $.86 per cup; as of tomorrow it would be $.58 per cup. If I can get four good batches out of these bones, the price would be $.43 per cup… now we’re getting closer to oatmeal prices! Well, not yet, plain oatmeal with NO added ingredients runs about $.06 per serving! Of course, does anyone ever eat oatmeal with NO added ingredients? That’s a rare individual indeed. Usually we add expensive ingredients like nuts and dried fruit. I looked this up online and the cost ends up more like $.52/serving (http://budgetbytes.blogspot.com/2011/07/baked-oatmeal-355-receipe-052-serving.html). So, now we’re talking comparable prices!
I’m still concerned about the nutritional value of each subsequent batch, but if it keeps gelling well, I won’t be so concerned. Also, even though I added vinegar each time, the bones are still fairly hard, so all the minerals have definitely not been leached out of them yet.
Okay, a further update: batch #2 gelled the way regular soup bones gel, nowhere near as solid as the first batch. Batch #3 barely gelled and batch #4 probably won’t gel at all; it’s quite weak and watery tasting. I decided to make soup with batch #4 and some leftover lamb roast, rather than use it as bone broth. I wonder… if I rendered these stocks down more, would they gel? The trick might be to add less water to each batch.]