Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Beef Neck Bones - Liver Dumpling Soup

We were at the Bavarian Lodge in Lisle (which I highly recommend, both for food and their selection of beer.) Cindy and I both had liver dumpling soup. While I found the dumpling itself a little on the firm side, it reminded me of a favorite dish from my youth. I resolved to give it a try at home. This recipe resonated with me so I started assembling ingredients. I picked up a package of neck bones yesterday (for $3.59/lb.) That evening I saw that neck bones were on sale at Valli for $1.99/lb. <sigh> I decided to employ dollar cost averaging and bought two more packages for a total of nearly 8 lb.

Weather has broken! Temperature was 22°F at the start of the cook and had dropped only 2 degrees by the time the meat came off. The sky was cloudy and wind light at less than 6 mph.

The first step was to smoke the neck bones. Yes, I had to figure out some way to get a Weber in the act. :D I recall that some recipes for beef stock start with roasting the bones to utilize the Maillard reaction to develop more flavor. In addition to that, I added some smoke to the mix. I rubbed the bones with Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper before they went on the fire.

I used a drip pan (two actually) to catch drippings as well. The cook was done on the 26 to leverage the grate real estate to lay out 8 lb. of beef neck bones with an indirect fire. I used some left over lump in the mini-chimney to light some Stubbs briquettes behind the fire-brick wall. I was loath to wakl through 20" of snow to get to the shed so I grabbed a split of maple and another of oak for smoking wood. I alo threw in a chunk of what looked like apple.

timetemp comment
4:00 PM
Meat on!
5:10400°Thermometer is almost over the coals. Nevertheless, closed the top vent to about half.
5:30300°Meat off! Looks good! Trimmed a bit of meat off and it is tough but very tasty!

Results - A little of the meat trimmed from one bone was tough but tasted great! The smoked bones made a great stock with smoky overtones. I will do this again.

What to do differently next time: I could watch the fire a little more carefully but 400°F measured near the coals is not at all unreasonable for what I was doing. I just wanted to brown the bones before boiling.

I went on and boiled/simmered the bones that day and the next until the meat was falling off. After removing the bones, I added some carrots and celery since they were called for in the Liver Dumpling Soup recipe. The liver dumplings came out rather substantial. Very tasty but not exactly fall off the bone. I will try a different recipe next time (Mom's recipe acquired from little sister.) I will definitely make this again!

I could probably make them a little smaller too. ;)