Despite the power of the food trend juggernaut (Poke bowls? Kale Caesar? Turmeric in everything?), “bone broth” is nothing new. Since humans started using water as a medium to cook with, meat, bones and vegetables have been boiled together to extract more nutrients and make the digestion of food easier.
Bone broth can be as simple as simmering a chicken in water for a few hours, or can involve roasting various bones and meats with vegetables to develop more flavor, then boiling with aromatic herbs and spices to develop something more complex. Cooking bones and meat in water over time raises their temperature, which eventually dissolves collagen into gelatin at 160F – 180F; hence why a long simmered stock will solidify at colder temperatures.
The miracle claims you’ve heard about bone broth are likely overstated, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t any less delicious or satisfying to make. Unless there are dietary restrictions, I prefer to simmer a variety of different bones and meat together such as chicken wings, backs, drumsticks, veal bones and pork bones. A lot of butchers will give you bones for free, or for very cheap if you ask nicely.
Vegetables are great, but can also add a lot of un-intended sweetness, particularly onions and carrots. I love the flavor of onions so they almost always go in, but usually give carrots a miss (personal preference). Garlic is a must, as are mushrooms (fresh or dried) which help amplify meat flavors.
The addition of spices is a complete blank canvas, so have fun experimenting. Black pepper is the world’s most ubiquitous spice, and fits with almost any flavor profile. Soups like Vietnamese Pho’ contain star anise, cinnamon, cloves and fennel, which give them a distinct flavor. Japanese ramen stock usually contains dried mushrooms, kombu kelp and smoked bonito flakes (katsuobushi), all of which add a strong element of glutamic acid or “umami” flavor.
Roasting the bones and vegetables prior to cooking will begin to caramelize them, adding depth of flavor and color to the bone broth. Roasting bones is best done in a sheet pan at around 425F for 30-40 minutes.
Take your raw or roasted bones, add to a pot with enough cold water to cover, bring to a boil, then lower the temperature and simmer for 2-3 hours. You may need to add more water if the level drops too low. Obviously for a more concentrated broth you want less liquid, but that comes at the price of volume. Again, up to you.
After 2-3 hours, strain the liquid to remove all the bones, vegetables and spices. This is now the finished product, and can be reheated and seasoned with plain sea salt, soy sauce, fish sauce, miso, or used as a base for a soup or braise. Bone broth freezes really well, so consider making a lot and portioning into Tupperware and freezing.
- Bones, with or without meat attached (Chicken wings, chicken drumsticks, chicken backs, veal bones, marrow bones, pork bones, pork shanks, turkey drum sticks, beef bones)
- Vegetables, Roots & Rhizomes (onions, carrots, celery, leeks, celeriac, parsnips, garlic, ginger, turmeric, fresh or dried mushrooms, kombu seaweed)
- Aromatic herbs (thyme, rosemary, bay, sage, parsley)
- Aromatic flavorings (cumin, all spice, cardamom, star anise, cinnamon, black pepper, white pepper)
- Seasonings (sea salt, soy sauce, fish sauce, miso, bonito flakes)