What’s Cookin’? Bone Broth

There’s a bubbling pot of bones and water, and scant vegetables, on my stove top, sending a rich aroma upstairs and outside, into my little city garden, and wafting across my neighbor’s patio. I started a batch of beef bone broth Tuesday night after work. It’s now Friday and the liquid has 1-2 inch fat bubbles and small bits of grey meat floating on top. It’s simmering slowly and I will probably pull it from the burner when I get home this evening and allow it to cool slightly before putting it in the fridge to congeal and remove the fat that rose to the top of the liquid. (In this picture, you can see the foam rising to the top of the broth pot.)

Last week I made chicken broth from a stockpile of bones, roasted and raw, I froze during the last month. The week before I made lamb broth from some bones from Sweet Stem Farm. I usually put two quarts of broth in the fridge for use during the week in soups, for braising vegetables and consuming by the mug full and the rest is frozen in straight neck (no shoulders) mason jars.

I’ve been reading and writing about and experimenting with traditional food preparation for several years. Fermenting vegetables, canning tomatoes and making kombucha are old hat. Meat is my new food frontier!

Research on the subject reveals a long list of economic, culinary and health benefits of consuming and making bone broths of all varieties. My own personal reasons include convenience and nutrition. I use broth as a quick veggie soup base at dinner then leftovers for breakfast or lunch, especially if I’m running late.

Below you’ll find the recipe I followed for beef broth from Eat Fat, Lose Fat written by Dr. Mary Enig and Sally Fallon.  (This title is available at Lemon Street Market.)  The authors suggest, “Whenever possible, use grass-fed and/or organic meat and bones.”

About 4 pounds beef marrow and knuckle bones

1 calf’s foot, cut into pieces (optional)

½ cup vinegar (any type)

4 or more quarts cold filtered water

3 lbs meaty rib or neck bones  (I used shin bones)

3 onions, coarsely chopped

3 carrots, coarsely chopped

3 celery stalks, coarsely chopped

Several sprigs of fresh thyme, tied together

1 t dried green peppercorns, crushed

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F, cover marrow and knuckle bones in water with vinegar and soak for 1 hour. Brown meaty bones in oven, turning occasionally for up to 1 hour. Add browned bones and vegetables to pot with knuckle bones. Place roasting pan on burner, add some water, and scrape pan with wooden spoon over medium high heat. Add juices from roasting pan to pot with bones and vegetables. Add water to pot so that the liquid is 1 or more inches from top. Turn heat to high and bring to a boil. A brownish foam will begin to collect on the top of the liquid: skim this foam with a large spoon. After the liquid reaches a boil add herbs and lower heat. Slow simmer for 12 to 72 hours.

When you are ready, remove bones, meat and vegetables from liquid with a slotted or screened spoon. Allow the liquid to cool slightly, pour into smaller containers and place in refrigerator or freezer. When you cool the broth some of the fat will congeal at the top of the container. This makes it easy to remove before using. Be sure to use straight neck jars (no shoulders!) because jars with shoulders often break after freezing. It’s terribly heart wrenching put a lot of time into making broth and finding half of your jars broken. Ball makes a pint and 1.5 pint jar with a straight neck. Locally, I found the 1.5 pint jars at E.M. Herr/Ace Hardware in Willow Street, PA.

Follow these links to hear what others are saying about home-made broth: http://nourishedkitchen.com/the-benefits-of-bone-broth/; http://bodyecology.com/articles/bone-broth; http://wholenaturallife.com/2012/01/31/gaps-for-beginners-series-bone-broth/

Trish Haverstick