The best bone broth

Is it just me or is this winter really draaaagggggginnnngggg oooonnnnnnnnnnn?

Yes?

I didn't think I was alone in hoping that spring springs sooner rather than later.

While we're waiting, and enduring longer-than-usual periods of sub-zero temperatures and winter storm after winter storm - with the odd polar vortex thrown in for good measure - cook up a batch of bone broth. Bone broth differs from plain broth and stock because it is generally cooked for much longer, and is more nutritious. You can make sauces, soup, risotto or any number of other delicious cold-weather dishes with it, and it's so good for you!

The stuff you buy in a can or a carton is so inferior that you'll never go back, and you'll be doing your body a favor skipping the boatloads of sodium and MSG that they load the stuff with. Remember how your Granny always used to say that chicken soup was a cure-all? Well, this is what she was taklking about. Real, ol'fashioned bone broth based soup, not the stuff that's barely ever seen a chicken in its life.

Here's the skinny:

  • Real bone broth is loaded with calcium, magnesium and phosphorus
  • It contains naturally occurring glucosamine and chondroitin, which are excellent for soft tissue repair and assist with arthritis and joint pain; I have personal experience in how well it works with sporting injuries in people AND animals!
  • When cooked for long enough, and correctly, it contains gelatin, an essential for maintaining healthy connective and soft tissue, hair, skin and nails.

I like to make mine from chicken, venison, pork or beef, and I always go for organic / pastured wherever possible. Sometimes I get lucky and it's a spare rooster from my back yard, or a deer my husband killed. I say wherever possible, because this is real life and it's not always possible and funds don't always stretch. The way I see it is it's better than store bought broth any day, and besides, you're using every part of the animal that was killed for your meat, and that sits well with me.

Often, I start with a whole chicken or turkey, and I roast it first. Then I pick off the meat, and use it for a roast chicken dinner, English style with roasted potatoes and Yorkshire puddings the first night, and then leftovers for lasagne, curry and alfredo. Often the dark meat will be reserved for the soup I will make from the broth.

So I pick the meat while it's warm, because it comes off the bone easier that way. Save the wishbone, and be sure not to break it. Throw it into the stockpot to make lucky soup. Humor me. We all need all the luck we can get, right?

When I say pick the carcass, I mean pick it. With bare hands and scant regard for keeping them clean. When you've got everything off the bone, including the fatty meat from the back which will be just yummy in your soup even if it's not good for plain eating, put the bones in a big stock pot, I use a 12qt stainless steel, and cover with cold water. If you want to, add a sprinkling of salt and pepper and some crushed garlic cloves. Just peel them and then crush them under the flat blade of the knife and throw 'em in. They're a great immune system booster!

Bring the water to a boil and let it simmer gently at least overnight. I will sometimes let mine go 24 hours on a slow simmer. If it turns to a jelly-like substance, that's the gelatin from the bones being released and that's a Very Good Thing.

Strain it, and either freeze into ice cubes for adding to dishes, or freeze in small containers for use in soups, risotto etc etc. I also like to keep a small quantity in the fridge for up to a week for using in every day cooking when I just need a little stock, like braising vegetables.

It's so delicious, and if ever there was a year where we were in need of the warming effects of soup, this would be it.

Spring is allegendly beginning on March 20 - I remain unconvinced!