by Dawn Cameron
I am sitting here trying to figure out how to begin writing something that anybody will want to read for interest sake…about food. Many of you who have met me during my 3 years at Empirical know that I am seriously into both food and nutrition. I have spent a lot of time and money and effort learning and traveling and eating and generally immersing myself in these topics. Food came first, the drive to nutrition came much, much later. It has blossomed into a subject I am most passionate about.
People have expressed interest in some of my food photos, or have asked for recipes. Writing a food blog seemed like a good way to get the word out there to more people.
As this is my first attempt, I am not sure how we proceed, other than to say I will write, and put some photos here. Some weeks will be short and sweet, others maybe not so much. I will get better with experience. Time for me is currently at a premium due to my current employment as a yacht chef (for those who don’t know what I do). Hopefully someday soon this will change and my smiling face will appear more regularly in person!
So here we go….week 1. Bone broth, or meat broth or stock is basically just boiling a bunch of meat/bones and some vegetables in water, with a bit of acid in order to get all the yummy goodness out of them to either drink on it’s own, or use as a base in any kind of soup, sauce, etc, etc. In culinary school, we spent a hell of a lot of time learning how to make traditional stocks in the French manner. All well and good, tastes amazing. Also, can be daunting, a pain in the ass, and frankly, who has the time for a perfectly executed stock base??? I don’t. I barely even do it at work and they PAY me to do this stuff.
Why is this stuff so good for you? Bone broths and stocks are a great way to extract gelatin, collagen, minerals, good fats, amino acids, vitamins and flavor out of parts that you are probably a) not going to buy, or b) are the leftover bits from stuff you have cooked and are going to throw away. They are a great way to add some of these components into your diet, and are a great way to improve the health of your gut (intestines) because our modern diet and way of life seriously hurts us. Bone broth is healing. Think of Mom’s chicken soup… It is also a value-add.
If you have ever suffered digestive disturbances, or have had a bacterial or viral infection, bone broth is a good tool to use. Having some healing bone broth is a great way to put back some of those lost nutrients. This is the real deal. It is worth making and freezing and always having some so you can easily heat up if you are feeling like crud and need a boost. It will help your recovery, not just from illness, but athletic performance also. There are some people who swear by having a little mug every single day. Also supposed to help you grow lovely hair and nails and skin. Winning all around.
Making it easy: I am going to show you how I make an easy bone broth out of chicken bits. It is tasty and it takes about 10 minutes to start the process. You walk away, come
back 6-8-12 hours later, and it’s another 10 minutes of effort.
First thing is to source your chickens…I like pasture-raised birds preferably fed non-GMO feed. They cost a little more, but the meat tastes fantastic and they really are worth the money. There is a Georgia producer called White Oaks Pastures that sells to Whole Foods. Marando Farms also has some good options. Look around, not hard to buy. Roast said chicken for a meal. 1 chicken = family of 4 adults for 1 meal. Or family of 2 for 2 meals…you do the math. There is nothing quite like a roast chicken. Usually when you carve the meat off the bone, you throw away the remaining bones/carcass. I am asking you to stick it in a zip lock bag and put in your freezer. Next time you roast another chicken, do the same. We are making use of what you would normally throw away.
When I roast my chickens, I like to stuff them with parts of onion, celery, garlic and rosemary/sage/parsley/thyme/lemon whatever I have. I leave this stuff in there when I freeze it. Alternatively, you can go to the market and see if they are selling frozen chicken backs, feet and parts for cheap. I know they have this at Whole Foods.
Time to make the bone broth…
Put 2 chicken carcasses into a crock pot or stock pot.
Add some veggies. I like to put a medium onion (peeled) or half a large onion, 2 or 3 cloves of garlic whole, about 5-7 peppercorns, 2 or 3 celery stalks (use the ugly ones from the outside of the bunch, wash first), 2 carrots (use ugly carrots, top and tail, maybe peel, but definitely wash first), maybe 3-6 slices of ginger, if you like ginger, (rinse first), and optional: if you have some seaweed and want to increase your iodine content in your diet, a sprinkle or a piece will do.
Fill crockpot with filtered water to cover everything.
Add about 1 or 2 Tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. This is important. The acid of the vinegar helps to leech the calcium and magnesium and other goodies out of the bones.
Put the lid on, set to about 4 to 6 hours on high or 6 to 8 on low…or turn on low and go to bed and deal with it in the morning…
If you don’t have a crockpot, sucks to be you!…no seriously, why don’t you have one of these brilliant little things? This one is a bit more fancy (it’s the one I use at work). At home I have a 6 quart basic model that cost me $24.99 at Target. Buy one. So useful for so many things…
If you are doing this on the stove top, then follow all the directions and set your pot at a very, very slow simmer. But you can’t really leave the house or leave it overnight on the stovetop…so see? Crockpot is the way forward!
This is what you are left with:
So at this point, let it cool a bit. Strain out all the veggies. A doggie might find these mushy carrots a nice treat on their food…hint, hint….Drain the bones and throw them away. Now, you could also pick the meat off the bones and save that for a snack, or for a beloved pet too. Everybody wins!
To save this, I like to ladle pint size amounts into 1 quart zip lock freezer bags, label and lay flat in freezer. When frozen, they will fit just about anywhere and you have it in manageable amounts for use later.
Bone broth in a nutshell! Done and dusted. You can do this with fish bones, beef bones, lamb and pork (if raw, better roasted at about 375 degrees for an hour first before following the directions above). The pork, lamb and beef bones will need a good 24 hours in the crockpot to extract the goodness out. If you are fearful of fat, then I suggest you allow the liquid to cool completely in the fridge and skim the solidified fat off the top. This is also incidentally a great doggie treat or useful fat for roasting veggies at a later date. Nothing needs to go to waste! I personally fight with my husband over the slow cooked bits of marrow, collagen, fat and meat, but maybe that makes us a little strange. It’s damn good, that I know.