Sunday, March 20, 2011

Dinner for a Week on $20

Posted by Picasa

Here is a recipe that will get a young family through the week with little preparation time and little money, both of which may be in short supply during difficult economic times: Rich stock prepared from beef bones and a small "soup bundle" of celery, carrots, and onion, to which is added several meaty beef shank rounds that disperse their flavor through the broth and add chunks of meat to the final product.

The simple procedure is to simmer the bones (two or three pounds from the butcher or supermarket) for 8 to 24 hours beginning with cold water with a half-cup of cider vinegar, skimming any scum that rises to the top of the pan during the first several hours, after which you need not pay any attention to the pot. The long simmering process extracts every bit of available nutrition from the bones, including abundant calcium. In the last two hours before serving, brown two large beef shanks (24-32 ounces), and add them to the pot with the browning juices,three coarsely chopped carrots, three celery ribs, and a coarsely chopped large onion. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

You will get a better and more economical final product if you seek out a local beef producer who is willing to sell you bones and shanks--such as the wonderful Hemp's Meat Market in Jefferson, Maryland that I use--rather than purchasing these items from the supermarket, where they are typically priced 30 percent more than at the butcher. Hemp's sells whole beef shanks that produce eight one and a half inch thick rounds like the ones pictured above (enough for three large pots of soup) for $2.49 a pound; the supermarket charges $3.49. Hemp's cows come from the field across the street. The supermarket cows come from who knows where, and they bring considerably less taste with them.

When you have your basic pot of soup, you can add fresh greens like kale or Swiss chard, or a turnip, rutabaga, or potato, to make it even hardier. Combine with bread and butter and a small salad for a wonderful family dinner. One pot, begun on Saturday and finished on Sunday, can serve a family of four for the better part of a week.

1 comment:

Linda said...

Tres francais. It reminds me of all that I have read of the French frugal housewife and the making of stock and stews and soups from it. Merci!