Taking Stock

Not sure why you don’t discover simple things till you hit 50 but there it is. I’d never done anything with the bones and meat scraps left on them after butchering a deer till recently. Turns out this really extends the amount of food you get from the deer, plus it’s also some of the best parts to eat from the deer because Sara is so good at making soup or stew from it.

Making stock from deer bones is pretty simple. After removing the meat from each quarter, I roast these bones, along with the neck and back bones, in the oven. There’s always some meat left on the neck and back bone and that’s good. Roast on a baking sheet for 20 minutes at 450 degrees. When the bones come out of the oven, I let them cool. If the bones of the front and hind quarters weren’t cut through with a saw when I butchered the deer, I cut through them now. The bones are pretty soft after roasting, and I use a serrated bread knife or the like to cut part way through the bone, then wack the bone at the cut on the counter when Sara isn’t looking and they break easily. This will expose the marrow, which is some of the good stuff you’re after for the soup stock. I put the roasted bones in a pot and cover them with water. I don’t add any vegetables to the stock as we add them later when we make soup or stew. I bring the pot to a boil on the gas stove and let it simmer for an hour or two. When it’s cold enough outside that we have the wood stove going inside, I’ll get the pot boiling on the gas stove, then transfer the pot to the wood stove and let it simmer there.

I don’t have a specific time to let the thing continue boiling. At some point it’s going to look like like soup broth, and I take it off the heat, pull out the bones, strain the liquid through a fine meshed strainer, and put the liquid outside to cool. If there’s any fat in the stock, it will harden to a solid white lid on top of the broth when the broth is cold. This is easily pulled off in a few pieces and discarded to the ravens. From here I pour off the liquid into 1 quart-sized yogurt containers or just freeze it in 1 quart volumes in baggies.

Sara does the ribs in the same way, only with the ribs, we’re after both the meat and the bones. I cut each side of the rib cage into about 3 sections, and trim as much fat as I can, but you never can get it all it seems.  Then roast the ribs for a short time in the oven, like the bones. After roasting, we boil the ribs. When the meat is falling off the bones, they’re done. We separate the meat and bones and toss the bones. Sara makes “pulled pork” from the rib meat, and we freeze it in portions to make sandwiches. The water left in the pot is soup stock from the ribs, and we handle this like the bone stock. There definitely will be a white lid on the rib stock for sure, so don’t skip the step of chilling it down and removing the fat lid as deer fat can be kind of strong tasting. Making stock from the bones of your deer is a healthy way to use more of our harvest. Eating venison is great, but there’s something about eating a soup or stew from the stock by the wood stove on a cold day that’s even better.

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