It’s not art. It’s not haute cuisine. It’s not the latest new and groovy Sydney restaurant. It’s not even very sexy. But it is my biggest food obsession…
It’s no secret that LM and I have undergone a massive paradigm shift in the last couple of years with the way we eat. The discovery of a combined shellfish/dairy allergy for LM and – in amongst other health ‘stuff’ – a sensitivity to gluten for me, means life at Casa TSL is no longer quite the same. Poor old LM has well and truly divorced Adriano Zumbo. My favourite Sonoma sourdough looks like it may well be permanently off the menu. <sigh>. And, at the time of writing, we are entering our eighth week of the Autoimmune Protocol.
I have undertaken a lot of reading about different approaches to food, and its effects on the body, in an attempt to work out what might work best for LM and me. And, we have experimented a little, too. This has led to a growing understanding and appreciation of more traditional eating – the way our great grandmothers ate. And, by this I mean: –
LOTS of fresh vegetables
A nose-to-tail approach (for reasons of health, sustainability and budget)
Cutting out highly refined, processed and artificial food
A nutrient-rich diet (including lacto-fermented foods)
And, one of our biggest steps towards a more traditional diet was when I started making bone broth. Regularly. As in at least every other week.
So, what exactly is bone broth?
Bone Broth is typically made with different varieties of bones from the same animal – like pasture raised-beef, -lamb, -chicken, and fish – and may have a small amount of meat still attached to the bones. The wider the variety of bones – knuckles and feet give lots of gelatine; marrow bones give great flavour and added nutrients; ribs and neck add flavour – the better. As with the preparation of a good stock, bones are usually roasted first to improve flavour.
Bone broths are typically simmered for a very long – as long as 72 hours, in some cases. This long, slow cooking time is to allow as many minerals and nutrients as possible to be removed from the bones.
Why bone broths are good for you
Bone broths are hugely rich in nutrients – particularly minerals like sodium, chloride, and iodine as well as magnesium, potassium and other important trace minerals.They are also a good source of amino acids – particularly arginine, glycine and proline. Glycine supports our bodies’ detoxification process and is used in the synthesis of haemoglobin (oxygen-carrying within the blood), bile salts and other naturally-occurring chemicals within the body. Glycine also supports digestion and the release of gastric acids. Proline (along with vitamin C) is great for our skin health. Bone broths are also rich in gelatine which has multiple uses – it aids in digestion, helps in the absorption of cooked foods (particularly the muscle meat cuts that are so popular now), and also supports skin health.
Bone broth made from chickens helps alleviate the symptoms of colds and flu. There’s a reason chicken soup is an old Jewish tradition!
Why can’t I just buy ready-made stock from the supermarket?
Well, you can. You just shouldn’t. For a start, they won’t taste nearly as good as your home-made version. And, they’re expensive. And, if that’s not enough, commercial stocks are often pasteurised – killing off all the goodness you get from your long slow simmer, and they have additives and preservatives that you just won’t put in yours.
What Can I do With my Bone Broth?
Well, the simplest answer is: drink it! Just heat to a simmer in a small pot, add a little good quality sea salt, and sip away. It’s great before or with meals and helps with digestion. You can also enhance the flavour by adding freshly grated ginger, fresh herbs, or even (if the thought is not too way out for you) throw in some sea vegetables.
Of course, bone broth is a great flavour base for soups and sauces. A simple soup can easily be created just by adding vegetables. For sauces, just add a little broth to the pan as you are cooking various meats.
We’re now cooking lots of braises in bone broth. You can see from my recent Osso Buco recipe that secondary cuts of meat not only taste amazing, they’re cheaper, too!
I also cook veggies with broth, too. Leafy greens, cabbage and fennel are great braised in broth. Adding broth to a root vegetable mash is a good alternative to dairy.
Can you tell that I’m a little passionate about bone broth? Well, here’s my very easy recipe…
- 1.5 - 2 kilos bones from happy, hormone free animals (a mixture of bones from different parts of the animal is good. I save the bones and carcasses from my roast chickens)
- a couple of chicken feet (optional - will ensure your broth has a good gelatin level)
- a good glug of apple cider vinegar (lemon juice also works)
- 2 or 3 onions
- 2 or 3 carrots
- 2 or 3 sticks of celery
- 2 bay leaves
- 10 black peppercorns (omit for strict AIP)
- A bunch of parsley stalks
- You will also need a large stock pot.
- If making beef or lamb bone broth, heat your oven to 180°C/360°F. Pop your meatier bones into a roasting dish and roast until well browned (about 30 - 45 minutes). Place your knuckle and marrow bones into your stock pot. Add your apple cider vinegar and cover with cold water. Now, just let this sit while your meaty bones brown. When your bones are nicely browned, add these to the pot, along with your onions, carrots, celery (and chicken feet, if using). Make sure you deglaze your roasting dish and get all the good bits out of the bottom to add to the stock pot. Ensure your cold water just covered your bones. Top up if necessary. Note: if using leftover chicken carcasses and bones, there is no need to roast the bones.
- Bring your stock pot to a boil. Carefully skim off any scum that rises to the top. Reduce the heat to low and add your peppercorns (if tolerated), parsley stalks and bay leaves.
- Now just leave it. Let it simmer for 12 - 72 hours (I simmer chicken bones for 24 - 36 hours and beef bones for 48 - 72 hours).
- When you have finished simmering your bones, turn off the heat. Carefully remove your bones and vegetables (these can now be discarded). Place a sieve covered with cheesecloth or a clean tea towel over a large bowl. Strain your bone broth. Cool in the fridge.
- Once cooled, there will be a layer of congealed fat that has risen to the top of your bone broth. This is easily removed if desired and can be saved for cooking.
- Transfer your broth into smaller containers for freezing. Your broth will keep up to a week in the fridge and up to 3 months in the freezer.
If you’re worried about leaving your stove-top on for that length of time, or you just don’t have the time, the Nourished Kitchen has a great recipe for Perpetual Soup (chicken bone broth) she has going in her slow cooker.