Saturday, August 18, 2012

How To: Bone Broth

Bone broth is one of those stupidly simple things that adds flavor and richness to dishes. Its packed with nutrients and minerals (see here for a great article explaining the nutrients and how the body needs/uses them). Mark's Daily Apple has done several posts (complete with links to studies) explaining how wonderful bone broth is and Hubby notices a great difference in how his ankles and knees feel when I've been cooking with bone broth. (I use beef bones for my everyday broth but if you are looking for instructions on making chicken broth go here).

So how do you make this wondrous stuff? Easy.

Take a bunch of bones, throw them in a pot, add a splash of vinegar, add enough water to cover, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to simmer and cover with a lid. Let the pot simmer for as long as you want. I generally let them go for at least 72 hours (continuing to add water as needed). The thicker your bones are the longer you want to simmer. If they are very thick you can take a hammer and break them up to help them cook faster.

Since my crockpot is broken I use a soup pot. At night I let the broth cool, store it in the fridge, and in the morning I scrape off the fat that has congealed and save it for sauteing or frying. This makes my finished broth less rich, but I get lots of great tallow for cooking and it doesn't take too much away from the broth.

When you are done cooking the bones remove the lid and allow the broth to reduce until it tastes good. At this point you could add vegetables and herbs if you wanted. Carrots, onions, celery, garlic, add in whatever pleases your tastebuds! I leave my broth plain since I usually use it as an addition to other dishes but if you are planning on drinking your broth straight you may want to add some flavoring.

Once the broth is perfect for your tastebuds allow it to cool and strain through a fine mesh-I use my pasta strainer with three layers of cheesecloth. This will strain out any bone chips, bits of fat or meat, and any seasonings you used. You now have a pot of bone broth ready to eat! Once cooled it will turn into meaty Jell-o from all the wonderful nurtients.

So now what do you do with it? It can eaten right away or stored in the fridge but I like to freeze it in ice cubes trays and store it in the freezer. I keep several bags on hand so I never run out and its quick and easy to grab whenever I need to add some flavor or liquid to a dish.

I get my beef bones from my local butcher. A bag of organic, grass-fed "dog bones" costs under a dollar a pound and makes a huge pot of broth. I also save the bones from roasts, ribs, whatever, until I have enough (about 3 pounds) to make a pot. Calf hooves and chicken feet are also great items to use.

Give bone broth a try. Its easy to make (throw the bones in a crockpot!) and adds a whole new level of flavor to your dishes.

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