I get asked a whole lot of questions when I teach my cooking classes. Everything from “what brand of olive oil do you use the most?” to “is pink Himalayan sea salt really better for you than plain old Kosher salt?”. But the number one question that seems to be on everyone’s mind lately is “wait a second, you make your own bone broth? How, exactly, do you do that?”
I know, bone broth is all the rage these days. A bit like the coconut bandwagon, bone broth suddenly seems to cure everything from the flu to your microbiome. Whole Foods sells it, so does my local butcher. For a good price too.
The truth is, bone broth has been around for ages. Back in the day, we used to simply call it stock. Long simmered bones, vegetables, herbs and a splash of vinegar were then strained and used in soups, sauces or to make grains and other dishes. Stocks made the difference between bland tasting food and great food.
They still do.
Except for today, we sip it as an elixir and extol the health benefits, which can be numerous. Long-simmering beef or chicken bones draws out the collagen, which in turn benefits our immune system, our hair, skin, and nails. It is also so easy to make and keep on hand that I wouldn’t want you paying top dollar for store bought bone broth.
Here’s how I make bone broth once a week
I typically roast a chicken or two (organic please) to use in my kids’ lunches or as a component in a stir-fry, like I did last night. Roasting the bones before making the broth is key for a good broth, it’s what helps draw out the collagen. It also kills two birds with one stone (I like multitasking!). You can also use beef bones or other meat bones, but make sure they are also roasted first.
Next, I always use a couple of aromatics. Onions, carrots and celery are my go to’s, but you can throw in some leftover parsley, thyme, garlic or even a sweet potato.
Then, a splash of vinegar is essential to draw the collagen and minerals out of the bones.
And last but not least, I use my secret piece of equipment, my slow cooker. I spent many years making all types of stock on the stove in a big pot. Vegetable, chicken, lamb. You name it, I made it. The problem was that bone broth loves a good, long simmer. When I finally realized that my slow cooker can be turned on for 20 hours at a time, I was star struck. Slow cookers are the best!
Place all the ingredients in the pot, turn it on and go to sleep. So easy! After it is done cooking simply strain, skim off the fat after it has cooled and use throughout the week or freeze. Straight up, in a soup, your choice.
Homemade Chicken Bone Broth
Makes about 4 quarts
2 chicken carcasses from 2 roasted chickens (if you only have one, that’s okay too)
1 onion, coarsely chopped
3 carrots, coarsely chopped
3 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1. Place all ingredients into a large slow cooker and cover with cold water to cover.
2. Turn the slow cooker on low to the longest setting you have. Mine runs for 20 hours. The longer the better.
3. Strain all the ingredients from the broth into containers (I use mason jars). Place in refrigerator, and when cooled, strain any extra fat that rises to the top. The broth might be quite gelatinous too and that is normal. Once you heat it up it will turn to liquid.
4. Use the broth heated as is, or in soups, to make whole grains or other dishes.