Recipes: Bones And Water, The Perfect Elixir

Everyone’s Talking About Bone Broth for Drinks and Stock

Recipes: Bones And Water, The Perfect Elixir

By Janice Cole, Minnesota

Whether you’re a fan of the latest craze, bone broth, or have been making stocks, broths, bouillon and consommé for years and wonder what all the fuss is about, bones are high on the trendy list right now. If you’re interested in the healing and restorative properties of broth, or want to make the best-tasting soups and sauces, or simply want to make sure you don’t waste anything, start stockpiling your bones as we explore the world of bone cookery.

PIECE 1: WHAT IS BONE BROTH?

Adherents of the current paleo diet started tossing about the term bone broth this past year and it seems that everyone’s jumped on the bandwagon. From celebrities to athletes to fashion models, chefs and restaurants, everyone is raving about bone broth. But what is it? Skeptics say, according to the London Guardian, “It’s just stock with a makeover and good PR.”

But adherents claim it’s much more. Recipes for bone broth don’t read much different than any old-time recipe for meat stocks or broth. Proponents advise to take bones from the butcher, including marrow bones, knuckle bones, feet, neck bones and more, or any bones that have been roasted (as from your roast chicken), cover the bones with water, add aromatics such as onion, carrot and celery and seasoning, if desired, and let cook — a long time, a very long time, as in 12 to 24 hours or more. The claim is that the long gentle cooking time breaks the bones down and the resulting liquid is packed with easily digestible protein, collagen, vitamins and minerals. The bone broth liquid is strained and served as a beverage. Restaurants, such as New York’s Brodo, have begun selling it with much fanfare and long lines.

The meaty flavor of broths has always been prized, but fans of bone broth cite its healing properties as well. The liquid is said to improve joint movement, promote faster healing and rebuild bones. However, scientific evidence to back up these claims is lacking. According to scientists, the body doesn’t just absorb collagen because it’s in liquid form, the process is more complicated and so far there’s no scientific evidence that bone broth results in healthier bones. The body needs more, such as dark leafy greens and other nutrients not included in bone broth. There is some evidence however that broth, especially if made from chicken, does help the body’s immune system. Just ask anyone, including grandmas, who swear by chicken soup when they have a cold and they’ll agree. The scientific evidence to back up this fact was shown in a study published in Chest in 2000 and confirms the benefit. There is also some evidence that meat broth can help the body recover after strenuous workouts by providing electrolytes and replenishing sodium even though scientists and doctors agree it’s not the magic ingredient many people claim it to be. Scientific skepticism aside, bone broth actually tastes wonderful, utilizes healthful ingredients and is easy and cheap to make. What could be better?

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PIECE 2: WHAT IS THE  DIFFERENCE BETWEEN  STOCK AND BROTH?

While it turns out that bone broth isn’t much different than traditional meat liquids other than that it’s cooked longer, sipped as a beverage and has a great alliterative title, is there any difference between stocks and broths? As with bone broth, the difference between stocks and broths are subtle.

Stock:

Basically, stocks are made with a large percentage of bones along with any attached meat, aromatic vegetables, water and seasoning, although never any salt. Stocks are simmered for about four to five hours or until the liquid is very flavorful. The mixture is strained and the liquid chilled. The texture of a stock when cold should be jiggly like Jell-O. It’s the collagen in the bones that gives stock its rich gelatinous feel. Stock is used as a base for sauces, gravies, deglazing pans and in many recipes. There are dark stocks and light stocks. Dark stocks are made with bones and vegetables that have been roasted before being simmered in water. The roasting creates a dark look and a richer flavor and is used especially for beef stock and heartier dishes.

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Broth:

Broth is a liquid in which meat and a small amount of bones are simmered in water with aromatic vegetables and season-ing. It’s cooked for a shorter period of time than stock, about 1 to 2 hours, strained and chilled then seasoned to taste. The lightly flavored liquid can be used as a basis for soup, enjoyed on its own or used as part of a recipe. The texture of broth is still liquid when cold as the proportion of bone to water is much lower than with stocks.

To confuse the matter even further, grocery shelves offer stocks, broths and bouillon. Depending on the brand, there really isn’t much different between purchased stocks and broths although some stocks may be slightly deeper in flavor or lower in sodium. Bouillon is simply a type of broth that is often served as a clear soup although today we have a hard time thinking of bouillon beyond the cubes that are offered as a convenience to cooks, albeit with artificial flavors and high sodium. Finally, to complete the round up of bone cookery, there’s consommé, a light meat broth that has been clarified with egg whites and lean ground meat to create a crystal-clear umami-rich broth served hot or cold in traditional elegant French cuisine.

Whether you butcher your own chickens or simply buy from the grocery store, start saving the meat scraps and bones of what you prepare. Wing tips, backs, rib sections, feet (very high in collagen), marrow bones, necks, gizzards (save the liver for another dish as the flavor is too pungent for stocks or broths). Some chefs make one stock with a variety of meat, but I prefer to keep my beef bones separate from my chicken bones. Stocks and broths can also be made from fish bones and seafood shells (they’re cooked for much less time) while vegetable stocks and broths are popular with vegetarians. Because the vegetables are strained out, the peels can be left on (onion skins are fine in dark stocks but usually removed for light stocks). When you get a full bag of bones (keep them in the freezer until ready to use) it’s time to make a potful. Once made, freeze smaller portions to use as needed.

PIECE 3: BONE COOKERY TECHNIQUE

Stocks and broths require just a few minutes to prepare followed by several hours of simmering. It’s the perfect activity for cold winter afternoons.

Equipment:

Bone broths and stocks can be made in any large pot; however, the best, called a stockpot, is tall with a narrow opening. This limits the amount of evaporation and forces the liquid to travel through several layers of bones, meat and vegetables resulting in richer flavor.

Stockpiling Bones:

Plan to collect bones over time by keeping a resealable plastic bag or con-tainer in the freezer, reserving odds and ends as you cook. Remember to keep the skin (especially chicken skin) as it adds flavor and the fat it releases can be removed once cooled.

Water and Seasoning:

Always start with room temperature or cold water. You want to slowly bring the mixture to the boil and skim the impurities that rise on the surface as it forms. Add the vegetables and seasoning after the skimming is finished. Never add salt as the salt intensifies in flavor as the liquid evaporates creating a salty mixture. Salt is added after cooling and the fat removed. Stocks are never salted as they are used in other recipes and may be further reduced, then seasoned in their final form.

Cooking and Storage:

Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat and reduce to low once it begins to boil. The mixture should bubble gently not rapidly or the liquid will become cloudy. Broths and stocks can be refrigerated for up to two to three days. Freeze for longer storage. If the final mixture tastes weak and watery, boil it on high to concentrate the flavor.

The claim is that the long gentle cooking time breaks the bones down and the resulting liquid is packed with easily digestible protein, collagen, vitamins and minerals.

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OVERNIGHT SLOW-COOKER BONE BROTH

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Ingredients:

1 carcass from a roasted chicken with meat scraps attached

1 medium onion, unpeeled, coarsely chopped

1 carrot, thickly sliced

1 celery rib, thickly sliced

2 cloves garlic, smashed

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

2 sprigs fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/4 teaspoon peppercorns

1 bay leaf

Water to cover

Directions:

Combine all ingredients, except water,  in 3- to 4-quart slow cooker. Add enough water to just cover the ingredients. Cover  and cook on low heat 12 to 14 hours or  until flavorful.

Strain broth; discard solids. Refrigerate broth until chilled. Remove any  fat that has risen to the surface and serve  as desired.

Copyright Janice Cole 2015

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ROASTED DARK CHICKEN STOCK

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Ingredients:

1 1/2 to 2 lbs. chicken bones (wings, backs, necks, etc.)

1 large onion, skin on, coarsely chopped

1 small carrot, coarsely chopped

1 small rib celery, coarsely chopped

1/2 tomato, coarsely chopped

6 to 8 cups water

1 tablespoon tomato paste

2 sprigs parsley

2 sprigs fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried

1/4 teaspoon peppercorns

1 bay leaf

Directions:

Heat oven to 425ºF. Arrange chicken bones and wings on large heavy-duty rimmed baking sheet. Bake 30 minutes. Add onion, carrot, celery and tomato; continue baking 25 to 30 minutes or until deep golden brown. Place in large pot.

Place baking sheet on stovetop and add 1 to 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits on bottom of pan; add to pot. Add enough of the remaining water to cover bones and vegetables. Add remaining ingredients.

Bring to a boil, skimming surface if necessary; reduce heat to low and simmer 3 hours or until flavorful. Strain stock; discard solids. Refrigerate until chilled; remove any fat from surface.

Copyright Janice Cole 2007

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Homemade Chicken Stock

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Ingredients:

3 lbs. chicken bones (wings, backs, necks, etc.)

10 to 12 cups water

2 medium onions, coarsely chopped

1 carrot, coarsely chopped

1 celery rib, coarsely chopped

2 large garlic cloves, smashed

3 sprigs parsley

2 springs fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried

1/4 teaspoon peppercorns

1 bay leaf

Directions:

Place chicken parts in large pot; add enough water to cover chicken by 1 to 2 inches. Bring to a boil, skimming off foam as it rises to the surface.

Add all remaining ingredients. Simmer, uncovered, 3 to 4 hours or until flavorful, skimming occasionally. Strain stock; discard solids. Refrigerate until chilled; remove any fat from surface.

Copyright Janice Cole 2010

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