Tasty Tuesday – Homemade Broth
So yeah, I’ve been a slacker about blogging, and I missed Munchies Monday for the last two weeks. And maybe more, but I’ve forgotten most of last month already. I just know it’s been awhile. Anyway, I really wanted to post about making homemade broth, and I didn’t want to wait until next Monday, especially since it was totally possible that I’d forget to blog that day, too. So this week you get a special non-Monday recipe post. YOU’RE WELCOME.
Knowing how to make good homemade broth is an essential kitchen skill, especially for people who want to A) be good cooks or 2. ditch processed foods. Why, you might ask? Well, I have discovered that one of the hardest thing about making a switch to a healthy, home-cooked diet is that you (at first) feel like you’re losing a lot of flavor. Food that comes from boxes, cans, freeze-dried trays, and most restaurant kitchens has a LOT of additives in it to preserve the ingredients and enhance the flavor, and it takes some experimentation and hard work to make from-scratch real-food meals just as zesty as the overly salty, MSG-laden crap you’re used to eating. I used to love things like supposedly New-Orleans-style red beans and rice (I’ll let you figure out the brand name on that one) and day-glo yellow canned chicken noodle soup (again, you guess the popular household name on that one) and I was sad that the stuff I made at home, which was certainly better for me and didn’t give me terrible stomach aches, just didn’t taste as “good.”
Then I discovered the secret of using good soup stock – homemade, hearty, flavorful, low-sodium, mineral-rich bone broth. Bone broth is good for you, a low-cost healing food that tastes GREAT. Once you try it, and find out how easy it is to make and how yummy it is, I guarantee you won’t go back to that expensive, watered-down canned crap you’ve been using.
Homemade Bone Broth
- 4 to 6 lbs. of meaty chicken bones with the skin on
- 1 or 2 small yellow onions, cut in half, skin on
- 1 garlic bulb (yes, the whole bulb), skin on
- 2 or 3 carrots, broken into large pieces
- 2 or 3 stalks of celery, broken into large pieces
- sea salt and black pepper to taste (I use about 1 tsp of each)
- 2 TB vinegar – I use either apple cider or white (this ingredient is very important! It’s what pulls the minerals from the bones)
Note the first: This ingredients list is not hard and fast – in fact, it’s infinitely customizable! You can add fresh or dried herbs to your liking, substitute green onions for yellow, parsnips or turnips for carrots, use beef bones instead of chicken legs, etc. I do not recommend making stock with JUST the meat & bones, though, because I don’t think it tastes nearly as flavorful as it does with the veggies added in.
Note the second: Bone broth is when buying organic meat makes a difference. Pastured chickens and cows are much healthier than traditionally raised animals and have more minerals in their bones. Even if you can’t afford to buy grass-fed beef or free-range chickens for the rest of your cooking, it pays to splurge here. The good news is you WANT the cheaper cuts (chicken thighs and drumsticks – or ask your butcher for beef soup bones, which usually run about $3 per pound, even for grass-fed organic meat) because they make for more flavorful soup.
Put all your ingredients in a large stock pot and cover with water. Because I am greedy, I like to fill the pot almost to the top with water, but you have to be careful not to let it boil over, because that just makes a terrible mess. Heat the pot over medium-high heat until it starts to simmer and some “scum” rises to the surface. You’ll know the scum when you see it. Skim it off with a slotted spoon, cover the pot, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for at least an hour, more like two or even three.
After a couple of hours of simmering, use a large slotted spoon or mesh sieve to scoop the veggies and meat and bones out. Toss the veggies, but let the meat and bones cool for a bit until you can handle them, then pick the meat from the bones and save it to use in soup. Remember that the longer you simmer the broth, the more easily the meat will separate from the skin and bones – and the softer the bones will become, until they literally disintegrate when you touch them (you have to simmer everything overnight before this happens). This is bad if you are freaked out by the thought of having any bits of bone left in your broth (which really won’t hurt you), but it’s good if you want every last vitamin you can possibly get out of that chicken carcass!
Now you can turn the heat back up until the broth (all by itself) is going at a rolling boil. Then cover and reduce the heat AGAIN and simmer for a few more hours or overnight. This reduces the broth so it becomes super-concentrated, which means super-tasty and super-healthy! Then you can ladle it into air-tight containers to store in the freezer (remember to leave a little bit of room at the top of the container for the broth to expand as it freezes).
Or if you want some kick-ass chicken soup RIGHT AWAY, add the meat back to the broth, along with a large onion (diced), a half pound of carrots (sliced thinly), a few stalks of celery (chopped). Cook until the onions are translucent and the carrots are soft, then stir in a big bunch of kale, chopped. When the kale has wilted and turned bright green, the soup is ready to serve. It will warm your heart and nourish your body. I usually have seconds and thirds.
If you’re a fan of French onion soup, melt 2 TB of butter in a small sauce pan, then add a medium yellow onion, thinly sliced. Cook the onion for ten to fifteen minutes over medium-low heat until it begins to carmelize . Then add two cups of broth (beef works best but chicken will do) and raise the heat to medium-high, scraping and browned bits of onion from the bottom of the pan. Once the soup comes to a boil, reduce heat and cover. Simmer til you just can’t wait any more (or until the broth has reduced and thickened nicely), salt and pepper to taste, and serve.
If you don’t like soup, you can still use bone broth to cook your rice and veggies – it adds a lot of extra flavor and nutrients. When you’re sick, a mug of broth will soothe your sore throat and boost your immunity.
The actual hands-on time for making bone broth is about 15 to 20 minutes. The rest of the time it’s just simmering on the stove while you’re doing other stuff – cleaning out your linen closet, taking a bubble bath, watching a movie, whatever. I like to start a big pot of chicken stock on a Saturday morning so I can have soup for dinner that night, but I’ve also been known to make a pot after work on a weeknight and just tuck everything into the freezer before I go to bed (or after I get up the next morning). It’s such an amazingly easy and delicious food, I can’t believe I only just started making it in the past year or so. I thought I just didn’t have the time, but now I’ve found out that it’s worth it to MAKE the time. Yeah, it’s that good.