It’s something you have heard of and something you have seen on TV. It caused the controversial ban of a recipe book that featured it in a baby formula recipe. But what exactly is ‘Bone Broth’? Basically its just stock – albeit good quality, home-made, like-grandma-made, stock. The thing is to make it properly you need to roast the bones, soak the bones then cook them in water for 6-72 hours depending what bones you use and what you want from them. Having something simmering on your stovetop for up to 3 days is a bit daunting, not the mention dangerous. So, using a slow cooker is the obvious choice.
However, you have another option. Just as easy, and in fact with some benefits over a slow cooker, the Pressure Cooker is another way to make your nutritional liquid gold. In fact renowned chef Heston Blumenthal explains that you actually get a better stock from a pressure cooker as the higher cooking temperature and pressure create a better Maillard reaction (what happens when protein caramelises like that nice crust on your steak) and better collagen extraction from the bones.
You can of course cook your stock on the stove, as I have done for many years before investing first in a slow and then pressure cooker. Use the equipment you have and what you feel comfortable with.
Why would you drink or cook with bone broth? It has long been know in folk medicine that broth is the most healing food, especially given to patients who had broken bones. The reason for this is the gelatine helps line the gut and helps it heal while the collagen is essential for knitting your bones together. You can consume as much calcium as you like, but, without collagen its like concrete without any reenforcing. Just ask any engineer how long a concrete bridge will hold without the structural reinforcement of steel cables embedded inside.
How can you add broth to your daily diet? The most Paleo way of incorporating it is to have a nice big hot mug of broth for breakfast. Maybe with a soft poached egg or squeeze of lemon. An easier way is to add it to soups and stews, perfect for the coming season. When our family was on the GAPS journey I even made sweet custards by cooking pumpkin in a very plain chicken bone broth and pureeing with a little butter, coconut cream and touch of honey. No-one knew that dessert was our dose of broth!
What bones to use? You can buy cheaper organic bones like beef ‘marrow’ and ‘stock bones’ or chicken carcases. But, being rather frugal, I like to use the meat from the bones. Using beef ox-tail or chicken wings results in a fabulous stock and tasty, tender meat you can use in other applications. Both ox-tail and chicken wings have a great ratio of meat, bone, cartilage, collagen and in the wings lots of skin. This is exactly what you want for a good stock.
What can you make with broth meat? The meat on the bones can be picked off half way through cooking, before its to mushy and still has texture and flavour. Store in the fridge for a week or in the freeze to make quick meals like ox-tail con carne or creamy chicken pie. Or just add it to soups, stews or baked dishes like pasta bakes, lasagnas and cottage pies.
Should you add veggies and seasonings to your stock? While there are benefits of adding veggies, see the Weston A Price foundation article on broths, I would rather make a plain broth then add the veggies when I use my broth to make something. I feel like i’m just wasting organic veggies by using them to add relatively little flavour and a few nutrients. Plus making a plain stock means it has many more applications. While I love making a properly seasoned Vietnamese pho stock or Chinese master stock or rich herby veal stock for French onion soup… most of the time I’m just grabbing a few cubes of stock to turn into a quick family meal and I don’t really want star anise and mandarin peel flavouring my cottage pie or pumpkin soup. Having said that, a few peppercorns and sprig or two of herbs from the garden are always in my stock pot because they do help bring out the meatiness of a stock and provide a basic, neutral seasoning for any cuisine.
Below is pictured a 5 minute cup-a-soup made with broth, sous vide eggs on broth veggies, chicken soup and meatballs cooked in broth and tomatoes.
Store Soup’s Bone Broth
1 kilo bones (for beef I recommend ox-tail and for chicken wings)
4L filtered water
2 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
1 tsp black peppercorns
A few sprigs of thyme or oregano or bay leaves
First preheat your oven to 200’C fan forced or 220’C if not. Place your bones in an baking dish and roast for 20-40 minutes, turning occasionally, until well browned.
Carefully transfer browned bones into your pot, slow or pressure cooker and cover with the water. Use a little of the water to loosen the caramelised bits in the pan and add them to the soaking bones. Add the vinegar, peppercorns and herbs to the bones and leave to soak for an hour.
If using a Pot on the Stove
Add everything to your pot. Bring to a gentle simmer and remove the scum that rises to the surface with a spoon. Turn to lowest heat so that it is just below a simmer. Add more water to the pot if it evaporates to uncover the bones.
Cook chicken wings for 6 hours then remove the wings with a slotted spoon and transfer to a dish where you can remove the meat from the two fat joints of the wing and return the bones, skin and thinnest end joint back to the pot. Cook chicken bones for another 6-12 hours.
For beef ox-tail cook for 12 hours then remove the meat and return the bones to the pot. Cook for another 12 hours.
Leave your stock to cool for an hour then strain through a sieve into containers. Store in the fridge or freezer. I use a silicon muffin tin to freeze individual blocks of stock I can keep in a bag in the freezer. I also skim the fat of the stock and keep it for cooking.
If using a Slow Cooker
A slow cooker is much more gentle and safer than the stove top so you can cook your stock for longer. Simply add everything to your slow cooker and set to cook on low.
Cook chicken wings for 6-12 hours then remove the wings with a slotted spoon and transfer to a dish where you can remove the meat from the two fat joints of the wing and return the bones and thinnest end joint back to the pot. Cook chicken bones for another 6-12 hours.
For beef ox-tail cook for 12 hours then remove the meat and return the bones to the pot. Cook for another 24 hours.
Leave your stock to cool for an hour then strain through a sieve into containers. Store in the fridge or freezer. I use a silicon muffin tin to freeze individual blocks of stock I can keep in a bag in the freezer. I also skim the fat of the stock and keep for cooking.
If using a Pressure Cooker
A pressure cooker is super fast, for chicken I don’t bother trying to use the meat as it cooks it so fast it soon becomes unusable mush. But the ox-tail is more sturdy so can be used after cooking.
Add everything to your pressure cooker and bring to a simmer. Skim the scum off the surface then put on the lid. Set to cook on the higher setting. Once at pressure maintain just enough heat to keep at pressure. Cook for 2 hours than turn off the heat and allow to cool until the pressure is zero and the lid can safely be removed.
Leave your stock to cool for an hour then strain through a sieve into containers. Take the meat of the beef ox-tail bones and keep to use but discard the chicken meat as its rather mushy and unusable.
Store in the fridge or freezer. I use a silicon muffin tin to freeze individual blocks of stock I can keep in a bag in the freezer. I also skim the fat of the stock and keep for cooking.
The best way to infuse broth with herbs is not to cook them in the broth, as they will loose their fresh aromatics. But, to put a bunch of fresh herbs directly into your hot broth once it is made. Leave to cool and infuse then use by gently heating and enjoy as your morning cuppa.
Other uses for broth below are creamy pesto chicken in broth based sauce, laksa, enriching a tangine and making mushroom gravy.