I'd tried (what seemed to be) a million different cuts of beef before I found beef shanks. Now I'm convinced they're the absolute best for bone broth.
Beef shanks, which consist of leg bone and muscle, are one of the cheapest cuts of meat I can get (they made it to our Low-Carb on a Budget post), they contain meat, lots of connective tissue and round leg bones filled with incredible bone marrow. They're my go-to slow cooker meat to use for making Bone Broth.
One batch of bone broth from this recipe, cooked in a small crock pot/slow cooker will produce:
- 1-2 liters of bone broth to use in other recipes or drink plain (I add water to dilute slightly when drinking it straight).
- 1 lb (.5 kilo) meat to eat
- Beef bones to re-use several times for more broth. Freeze bones in between uses and discard when rubbery.
This stuff is like nectar of the gods. It is so delicious and I can use it as an afternoon snack or even a meal replacement when fasting. It's salty, savory, fatty and delicious.
The directions seem long and tedious, but it's really quite simple because the steps are over 36 hours or more. Slow cookers are incredibly forgiving, so no worries if you don't follow the recipe to a T. Make it to suit your taste.
Beef Shank Bone Broth
2 lbs/1 kilo beef shanks (I choose bones about 2"- 2-1/2" diameter).
**The meat in this recipe is completely optional, but I find it a nice benefit. If you prefer to cook bones only, use about 1 lb of bones or whatever you have on hand.
1-2 liters cold, filtered water
4 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
2 bay leaves
2 Tbsp sea salt, divided (or 3 Tbsp Magic Mushroom Powder)
2 Tbsp Tamari, fish sauce, coconut aminos OR worcestershire sauce (always opt for gluten free)
1 tsp garlic, granulated
1 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp dried thyme
1 cup onions (white or yellow), sliced
1 cup carrot, sliced in rounds
1/2 cup celery, sliced
1 Tbsp butter, ghee or coconut oil (for the seering pan)
Optional: 1/2 cup sliced mushrooms (button or shitake)
Heat butter, ghee or coconut oil in a large frying pan or griddle over med-high heat. Add the beef shanks to the pre-heated pan, along with 1 Tbsp sea salt and the dried spices (garlic, oregano, parsley and thyme) and cook for 4-5 minutes per side or until a nice brown crust starts to form on the meat. Turn the meat and cook the other side for an additional 3-4 minutes.
**If you are using raw bones with no meat, cook the bones in a 400 degree oven for 15-20 minutes prior to adding to crock pot. If the bones have been previously cooked, you can skip this step.
While the meat is searing, add the onions, carrots, celery (and optional mushrooms) to the unheated crock pot.
When the meat is done searing on both sides, add it to the crock pot, layering on top of the vegetables.
Add the bay leaves, remaining salt, tamari, apple cider vinegar and cold water and let sit, unheated in the crock pot for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, plug in the crock pot and set it to low, and cook for 12 hours. Add more water during cooking if needed, always keeping the crock pot full and the meat submerged, if possible.
Stir between 6-8 hours cooking time to place the top pieces of meat (which may have been above the water line) deeper into the pot. This is usually what I do first thing in the morning when it looks like this --->
Test the salt level at 6-8 hours and add more salt to taste.
After approximately 12 hours of cooking, unplug the crock pot and let cool slightly for 1-2 hours.
Once cooled slightly, remove the meat from the bones, reserving the meat in a separate container for later meals, and returning any bones and marrow to the slow cooker filled with broth.
Also remove the vegetables from the broth at this time with a slotted spoon, and discard the vegetables.
Re-start the slow cooker on low, add additional filtered water if needed and cook the bones and marrow in the broth for an additional 12-24 hours. ------>
After 24-36 hours of total cooking time, unplug the slow cooker once again and let cool for 3-4 hours. Remove the bones with a slotted spoon and set aside.
Allow the bones to air dry to reuse at a later date (Once dried, store the bones in the freezer).
Using a fine wire strainer/sieve/or cheesecloth secured over a bowl or pitcher, slowly spoon the broth into the strainer to separate the liquid from the vegetable/meat/fat particles. You will occasionally need to remove and discard the particles that collect in the strainer in order to continue straining.
When you are finished straining, refrigerate the broth for a few hours or overnight, then spoon off any solidified fat that has collected on the top. You can save this solidified fat (tallow) in the freezer indefinitely to use as a cooking oil, or you can choose to discard it.
Return the broth to the refrigerator and use within 3-4 days or freeze in small portion sizes (I usually freeze in 1/2 cup or 1 cup containers).
Use in place of water/bouillon cubes in recipes, to cook meats and vegetables, to make gravy, or to drink plain.
Homemade bone broth is rich in calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and amino acids proline and glycine make it great for bone and tooth health. Bone broth also supports joints, hair, skin, and nails due to its high collagen content.