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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Bone Broth

GLUTEN-FREE | DAIRY-FREE

Broths made from bones have been revered as both food and medicine since ancient times. Rich in minerals and glistening with fat droplets, bone broth has even been called "liquid gold."

It's not just delicious, it's nutritious too. The nutrients and protein in bone broth are well absorbed and the gelatin acts as a natural digestive aid. It's a traditional food for sick individuals, people with arthritis and those with a weak constitution. Bone broth is also a healthy base for soups, stews and sauces.

Like all things, the quality of the finished product can only be as good as the quality of the original ingredients. Use bones from animals raised on pasture, fed their natural diet, and never exposed to hormones, antibiotics, pesticides or other chemicals. Bones, meat and organs from these animals are a good source of healthy, anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats, unlike bones, meat and organs from animals fed grains (even if those grains are organic).

I used a turkey carcass plus the neck and giblets (save the liver for another use) for this broth but you can use bones from any wild, grass-fed, or pasture-raised animal. Smaller bones can be chopped up with a sharp cleaver and your local butcher can cut up the bigger bones for you (or use an electric saw). More surface area is better but they don't need to end up in tiny pieces. Just make sure that the marrow is exposed and they fit into your pot.

I usually add dry beans, pre-soaked overnight, to give the broth more nutrients and a bit more body.  I also add a splash of apple cider vinegar because the small amount of acid will maximize the release of gelatin and minerals like calcium and magnesium from the bones as the broth simmers.

Carcass or bones, preferably with some meat left on them, marrow exposed
Several cups of roughly chopped aromatic vegetables like celery, carrots, onion or leek tops
A head of garlic cut in half through the "equator" 
A pinch of sea salt (not too much because you can adjust the seasoning later)
1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
1 fresh bay leaf or 2 to 3 dried bay leaves
1 or 2 dried chili peppers (optional) 
1 handful of dried beans (adzuki, white, pinto)
Splash of apple cider vinegar 

                        1. Add everything to a large stock pot along with enough cold water to cover all of the contents generously. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to the lowest setting. Cook the stock at a boil so gentle that just a few bubbles rise to the surface at a time. Skim off any foam that rises to the surface. Simmer the stock, tasting occasionally, until all the flavor has been extracted from the bones, about 4 to 5 hours.
                        2. Cool the broth, strain it, and portion it into clean, labeled glass jars with tight-fitting lids. If you plan to freeze the stock, leave an inch of space at the top of the jar to allow for expansion and prevent the jars from cracking.
                        3. Once the stock has cooled to room temperature, screw the lids on the jars and place them in the fridge overnight. 
                        4. Once the stock is chilled throughout, transfer to the freezer all of the jars you don't plan to use in the near future. Leave the lids unscrewed, as the liquid will expand as it freezes and you don't want the jars to burst. The following day, when the stock is completely frozen, screw on the lids.
                        Yield: 6 to 7 pints of stock

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