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Ground beef for meat broth?

I am looking at Marcella Hazan's "basic homemade meat broth" instructions, and I was curious if anyone has tried making it with ground meats?

In her ingredients list, she lists "5 pounds assorted beef, veal, and chicken (the last optional) of which no more than 2 pounds may be bones"

I understand that she wants to create a lighter broth than a gelatinous stock. I asked my butcher if they had meat scraps/not bones, and I was told that usually the scraps end up as part of the ground product (btw, this is a real butcher... orders the half or whole animals and they do the rest).

So that got me thinking, would the ground beef/veal/chk product be suitable to simmer in the water for the sake of creating a broth, and then strain adequately?

Just curious. Happy Sunday!

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  1. The broth shouldn't care whether the meat is whole, chopped, ground or creamed. As long as the contents of the "blend" are consistent with the recipe (not a lot of miscellaneous "who knows what" being added) you should be fine. But, I have to ask, why would you want to take the trouble and expense of grinding the meat?

    1 Reply
    1. re: todao

      Ah, I wouldn't grind it... I would buy it ground by the butcher already (and more likely since it is cheaper, made from their own scraps... so also no risk of weird added crap to the ground meats).

    2. I have seen recipes for a quick chicken broth that calls for ground chicken and whole bones going into a pressure cooker. Just strain it real good and you should be fine.

      2 Replies
      1. re: jpc8015

        I've also read of using ground beef to add some extra flavor to a stock made with bones. I believe it was added during or just before the clarification stage.

        1. re: paulj

          Classically during, as part of the clarification for a Consommé it is mixed with Egg Whites and crushed shells, minced Mirepoix and some aromatics.

      2. it won't matter if it's pieces or ground. how much water? you won't wring much flavor out of just a few bones and boiled meat.

        i'd rather start with a rich home-made stock and thin it to taste for a particular dish.

        1. FYI, Cook's Illustratrated (January/February 2009 issue) found that chicken stock made from boiling ground chicken (no bones) had more "significantly more flavor" than chicken broth made from boiling chicken parts (with bones).

          To back up this subjective result with emperical evidence, Cook's Illustrated tested both stocks to measure the total amount of "dissolved solds" (an indicator of how much flavor was extracted from the chicken). The stock made from chicken parts and water had 3.32 grams of dissolved solids per 100 grams of stock. The stock made from ground chicken and water had 5.6 grams of dissolved solids per 100 grams of stock -- 68,67% more dissolved solids.

          Results should be similar with stock made from ground beef.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Norm Man

            i can't abide boiling away expensive meats. i only use ooggly bits, like feet and heads, neck bones and hocks, for stocks anymore. they make fabulous rich stocks.

            1. re: hotoynoodle

              Lots of gelatin there! I toss random bits into a freezer bag until I make stock - chicken feet and heads, giblets, backs, etc.

              I suspect that ground meat makes stock much faster. There's a larger surface area for a given mass of meat, so the juices and solids can be extracted more efficiently. On the down side, it probably makes a much cloudier stock, for the same reason.

          2. One of our traditions is making a tomato/beef broth for sipping on Sunday morning. We boil beef bone(s) in about 3-4 quarts water. When the level goes to half, we add tomato juice, then simmer down again.
            We've had some desperate Sundays when we didn't have beef bones, so (in a pinch) boiled up anything from the freezer: rib steaks, blade roasts, beef ribs, striploin steaks, cow foot, or preformed 85/15 beef patties.
            In my opinion, the 85/15 patties lent very little by way of flavor or complexity.
            So yeah, you can use ground meat for a broth, but if you have a choice, maybe use something else.

            1. One concern of mine is fat content. You could end up with a VERY fatty stock. Not gelatinous, just greasy.

              1 Reply
              1. re: katecm

                Agreed about this - but I suppose I could make the broth, let it set in the fridge, and then skim off the congealed fat that rises to the top, no?

              2. I suppose you could do it, but you're going to end up with a pretty pale broth - if you do go this route make sure you have plenty of veg. and herbs in the unfinished broth. You're entirely correct that it won't be particularly rich at all due to the lack of bone and connective tissue. One thing it will be is very, very fatty, so give yourself time to cool and degrease the broth.

                That being said, I wouldn't do this. If you can get scraps and bones from the butcher, it will almost surely be cheaper than the ground product you mention and they will make a much better broth for you.

                2 Replies
                1. re: mamachef

                  agreed. i can get 3 + pounds of bones for what i pay for a pound of ground beef.

                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                    Me too - and they make the best stock,, esp. if you roast them and being hotoynoodle I'm sure you do!

                2. 5 pounds assorted meats of which no more than 2 pounds may be bones. . .

                  that leaves 3 pounds of meat. Personally, I would make sure to include some chicken in that 3 pounds and not just all ground beef scraps. But assuming you were going to purchase meat scraps from this butcher to make the stock, I don't see why you wouldn't be able to use the ground product since all he did was grind up the scraps you were going to purchase anyway. The fat content should be the same unless he intentionally added more fat to up the ratio in his ground product.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: seamunky

                    Which is what butchers do, seamunky.

                    1. re: seamunky

                      I guess I'll have to experiment.

                      I have been more familiar with "stock" creation using bones (roasted or not) with some residual meat on it, but just taking a look at a book new to me, Marcella Hazan's _Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking_, she paints the use of the flavoring liquid as a lighter broth unlike the French stock, and suggests that the chicken flavor is too "sharp".

                      Obviously, to each his/her own, but I was just curious how others have approached this if they've adopted Hazan's formula that she uses in various applications in the book.


                      1. re: nasv

                        I have the Hazan book too. And I have some concerns regarding her meat broth; mostly I don't want to waste all that meat. She doesn't talk about what to do with the cooked parts. Maybe that's where I'm supposed to get creative. I envisioned my five pound combo would consist of beef chuck and chicken, bones from both, veal is too pricey.