A diversionary note: If you have wonderfully marrow-y bones like this, you can actually roast them 'til the marrow is crackly and bubbly, then eat the marrow. I tasted it, and it was heavenly. Believe it or not, marrow bones, served with a cool and crispy parsley salad, are a hot ticket item at a high-end restaurant in New York City.
Okay, back to the straight and marrow. I'll keep this as brief as possible, because there are recipes all over creation for this stuff.
BONE BROTH IN THE SLOW COOKER
These amounts make roughly 3 quarts of broth.
- Grassfed beef bones (about 4 pounds)
- Apple cider vinegar
- Bay leaves
- Salt and pepper
Thaw your bones. Rinse them well to remove any bone dust.
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Arrange bones on a baking sheet as shown. At the last minute, I decided NOT to use the Silpat, so removed it and placed the bones directly on the baking sheet.
Roast for 20 minutes or so, then check to see how things are going. The marrow should be sizzling, and any meat on the bones should be getting brown. Keep roasting 'til things look nice and crispy and brown. You can use unroasted bones, but roasting adds flavor and color to the finished broth.
While bones are roasting, cut up a few carrots, an onion, and some celery. This is optional, but will make the broth tastier, I think. Put the veggies in the crockpot, and add a couple of bay leaves and a few grinds of pepper.
Place bones in slow cooker. Add water to a depth of at least an inch over the bones. I used a 6-quart slow cooker for the bones shown. Be sure to use quantities of bones, veggies and water that keep your slow cooker around 3/4 full ... that's what most manufacturers recommend, but mine was a tad more full than that and worked fine. But don't fill it to the brim. You'll need room for the simmering action.
Add two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to the slow cooker. The wisdom here is that the acid will help release the calcium and other goodies from the bones.
Cook on low heat for 12 to 24 hours. I cooked mine for 15 hours with great results. I had read that I should skim the broth periodically, but honestly, there was nothing to skim. If you have anything floating that doesn't look nice, you could skim it off.
At this point you have a decision to make. You can remove the bones, strain the broth, then put the bones BACK in the slow cooker, add more water, and keep making broth (for days, even!) until the bones begin to dissolve. I elected not to do that.
With tongs, pick out the bones and place them on a platter to cool and discard. Set up a strainer over a heat-proof casserole large enough to hold your broth, then ladle out broth into it. When the broth level gets low enough, pour the rest of the slow cooker contents into the strainer. Remove strainer, and stir a teaspoon or two of salt into your broth. You can also wait and salt the broth to taste when you use it in soups or for drinking.
Cover and chill the broth. Remove solid fat from top, then freeze broth in containers of choice. If using glass, leave room for freezing broth to expand.
And don't forget to heat up a mug of broth for yourself! You've earned it.