The Heavenly Smell of Bone Broth

The heavenly smell of broth simmering in the crock pot has become a comforting staple in our house. We use it for soups and sauces, or warm a cup up with a little butter or coconut oil and sea salt when we’re not feeling well.

Photo courtesy of http://www.sxc.hu/profile/theswedish

Slow-simmered bone broth is not only delicious, it is rich in easy-to-absorb minerals and gelatin. (Read this article to learn about the myriad of benefits from bone broth.)

Basic recipe for bone broth:

  1. 3 lbs of chicken bones. My preference of bones is from (best first): pasture-raised, free-range, organic, or at least hormone-free. Don’t worry too much about exact measurements for this broth. What is important is that, whatever amount of bones I have, I cover them with water. When we eat chicken, we save the bones. We also buy bones from our local independent grocer (most large chains don’t keep them) and keep them in the freezer. This can also be done with beef or lamb bones, but those are better roasted first until browned.
  2. Chicken feet. When I can get them, this is a must. The feet are rich in gelatin and add great nutritional value to the stock. I usually add three or four feet to each batch. Depending on how gelatinous (jello-like) the finished stock ends up, I add more or less feet to subsequent batches (gelatinous is good).
  3. Water and splash of vinegar. I prefer a crock pot for this but it can easily be done on the stove as well. Place the bones in the pot and cover with water. Add a good tablespoon or two of vinegar, preferably a raw vinegar, to help extract the calcium, and let it sit for an hour. Turn the crock pot on the lowest and longest setting. As it comes to a simmer, skim any foam that comes to the top. I like to start this in the evening, skim every hour or two, and the let it go all night. In the morning I’ll add the rest (below) and then let it go all day. This is best if simmered for at least 12 hours all together… mine usually is closer to 20 (two 10 hour runs in the crock pot).
  4. Mirepoix a.k.a., carrots, onions, and celery. Meer-PWAYH”  is just a fancy French cooking term for carrots, onions, and celery (of course there are some variations). I typically follow the 1-2-3 method, one onion (yellow or white), two carrots, and three celery stalks. They cook a long time so they can be left in large chunks. Chop off the root end of the onion but save the rest, including the skins, and cut in half or quarters. Peel the carrots, chop off the ends, and cut in two or three pieces (however small needed to get them into the pot). Chop the ends off the celery (the “flowery” tops will make it bitter) and cut in two or three pieces. I wait to add this until after skimming. Once added, I top off the pot with water, keeping it at the original level.
  5. Aromatics.  I always add about a teaspoon of whole peppercorns, a bay leaf, and a clove or two of garlic (don’t bother peeling it). If I have some thyme or other herbs in the fridge I’ll add a few sprigs as well. This goes in with the mirepoix.
  6. Bunch of parsley. When I’m ready to finish, I make sure the pot is topped off with water to the original level, then pull out all the big stuff. I set a large bowl and a mesh strainer next to the pot and pull everything out with tongs (after it drains, I pour the liquid back in). Then drop in a whole bunch of parsley (doesn’t matter which kind). This re-mineralizes the broth. Let it go for at least ten minutes then remove it to the strainer.
  7. Strain. I use broth right out of the pot, put it into jars (once it’s cooled a bit) and store in the fridge for later in the week, or freeze for longer storage. Because this is simmered so long, the bones break up a lot and there is always sediment. Every time I pour it from one place to the next it goes through another small mesh strainer. It can also be poured through cheese cloth but I typically don’t.

For another idea, see Perpetual Soup: The Easiest Bone Broth You’ll Make, where they keep the crock pot going 24/7 and just keep changing out the ingredients. I haven’t tried this method myself.

Have you ever made homemade stock? If not, why not?