It's hot right now - it's popping up in the Washington Post and Men's Journal, and is even being served from a takeout window in New York - which DEFINITELY means it's reached cool-kids status. But far from new, bone broth is one of the most ancient and healthful foods around, and an essential in any paleo, primal, real-food kitchen.
I fell in love with bone broth a few years ago when my friend and food maven Rachel warmed me up a cup for my cold. (I have learned SO much on this real food journey from her - check out her awesome site Barn & Butter.) I felt slightly afraid of a pot of boiling bones, but she gave me a run-down on all the goodies in it, so I gave it a shot.
I love bone broth for three reasons. First, because it's an ancient food - and I think anything our great grandmas did in their kitchens for thousands of years MUST have been brilliant to have gotten us this far.
Second, it shows a respect for the whole animal. Eating only lean cuts of muscle meat is a recent trend that I believe hasn't served us or the farming industry well. When you include all parts of the animal in your culinary repertoire, you show a respect for the life the animal gave for your nourishment.
And last but very importantly, the nutrients in bone broth qualify it for my very short list of actual superfoods. Think gelatin (digestive healing), glucosamine (joint health), collagen (skin, hair, nails), and minerals like calcium and magnesium in real, bio-available form. Bone broth also contains specific amino acids like glycine and proline which aren't present in lean muscle meat and so create a better balanced protein intake. Because of all this, bone broth is recognized as deeply healing for those with auto-immune, digestive, and fertility issues.
For bone broth it's VERY important to source your bones well - bones, marrow, and connective tissue can store more toxins if from conventionally raised, antibiotic and hormone-laden animals. Get pasture-raised, humanely raised, local (if possible) meats. Remember to roast the bones first, to get more rich flavor. And don't forget the apple cider vinegar - the acidity helps to draw out the minerals from the bones.
I have experimented with beef bones, chicken and chicken feet stock so far, but you can also use fish or pork bones. Here is my easy starter recipe for beef bone broth:
2-4 lbs of pastured/grass-fed beef marrow or knuckle bones. I ask the butcher for a few pieces of each. It's SO important to get high-quality, properly raised animal bones. You can also use the entire carcass of a roasted/baked chicken or turkey; we'll sometimes buy the organic rotisserie chickens at Whole Foods, eat the meat for lunches and snacks, and then put the whole thing into the pot for broth when done.
mineral or sea salt to taste
2 large carrots, roughly chopped
1 small onion cut into large chunks
1 Tbsp. garlic, chopped
1-2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
A few whole sprigs of rosemary and thyme
Often you'll buy the bones frozen - I find the first step works best if the bones are defrosted first, but you can use frozen and it will work.
Heat oven to 400˙. Place the bones on a roasting pan. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper, and roast for about 10 minutes, flipping them over half-way through.
While the bones are roasting, place the carrots, onion, and garlic into the crockpot.
Remove the bones from the oven and place into the crockpot. Sprinkle in a little more (about 1 Tbsp) sea salt, add the apple cider vinegar, rosemary and thyme, and then fill to cover with filtered water.
Place the crockpot heat on low, and simmer for 24+ hours.
You can try a little broth at 24 hours, straining before serving. You may like a little more salt added to taste. I like to keep the broth going (at just under a simmer) for a few days, continuing to eat it straight out of the pot! I've heard of great-grandmas doing this with the bones until they completely dissolve! After a few days, I strain everything out and store - in the fridge for a week, or freezer for a few months.