Have you ever heard of bone broth? At least as a term, bone broth is relatively new, popularized – if not hipsterized – by the rise of the Paleo diet, which focuses on the consumption of meat, fish, vegetables, and fruits, or types of foods that formed our diet during the Paleolithic era. The broth, usually homemade but increasingly available in stores and by special order, has a thick texture with a pronounced flavor.
“One of the reasons I wanted to open up a bone broth concept is because it’s so unique. I haven’t seen so much in LA, ”says Erwin Tjahyadi, chef at new restaurant Bone Kettle in Pasadena. “Bone broth is a comfort food. And it contains a lot of vitamins and collagen.
Proponents of bone broth, touted as a new superfood by some, the next miracle elixir by others, have a long list of benefits, claiming it fights everything from rough skin and joint pain to arthritis, bowel problems and even hormonal imbalances. Bubbling might just be the new juice.
So what is bone broth? Essentially, the liquid is nothing more than a pot of bones and water, maybe also vegetables and herbs, simmered slowly for hours until the slightest flavor is extracted from the ingredients. Which, of course, looks a lot like stock, that humble kitchen staple.
“I think that’s pretty funny,” says Michael Ruhlman, award-winning food writer, cookbook author (among others, he co-authored Thomas Keller’s “The French Laundry Cookbook”) and culinary authority. “The ‘bone broth’ is a marketing tool. There’s no difference between bone broth and broth, and I’d love to talk to anyone who says otherwise, period. “
The label may be new, but bone broth is about as revolutionary a technique as real fire cooking. And, of course, bone-based bouillon pots are a staple of classic French cooking as well as a staple kitchen utility, born out of a desire to use every kitchen trim and scrap. , from bone remains to wilted parsley stems. .
Unsurprisingly for an age-old recipe built from little more than bones and water, a large pot of whatever you want to call this stuff is easy to make at home. Just make sure you give yourself plenty of time.
The most important ingredient in a good bone broth is – wait – the bones. Bones define the type of broth (beef, veal, chicken, fish) and determine its flavor and thickness, and you’ll need five to six pounds for every gallon of broth you make.
You can use almost any bone, but some types are popular. Those rich in cartilage, like the bones in the joints, make an excellent broth because the collagen in the cartilage thickens the fluid, giving it body and flavor. The bones of the neck and back, as well as the feet, are also very good for this. When collagen is heated, it turns into gelatin (think Jell-O); release enough gelatin in a broth and it will solidify when cooled. If possible, cut the bones so that the pieces are no longer than a few inches each; this will allow the bones to break down faster and easier.
The bones give texture and definition to the broth, but it’s the meat that brings the real flavor, especially meats that are tougher and rich in connective tissue, another source of collagen.
“The meat has all the flavor. I don’t like the flavor of the bones, ”says Ruhlman. “What you want is a high ratio of meat, high cartilage and bone for the best broth. I love the flavor of sweet, aromatic meat and vegetables.
Look for meaty knuckle bones or leftover chicken carcasses (it’s best raw, but bones picked up from a roast chicken work just as well), as well as adornments from a roast or coals.
For a richer flavor, roast the bones first: Place the bones on a platter in a 450 degree oven until dark and brown, about half an hour before adding them to a broth. .
In addition to bones, consider other flavors, such as vegetables or herbs. For a classic French broth, a mixture of onions, carrots, and celery – called mirepoix – is added, along with things like parsley, thyme, and whole peppercorns or cloves.
Tjahyadi, originally from Indonesia, merges Korean and Vietnamese methods with French technique. “Koreans use femur bones and I love using Vietnamese herbs and ingredients.”
Once your broth is cooked, leave it over low heat, skimming off any foams, fats or other impurities that rise to the surface. Depending on the broth, cooking times can range from 45 minutes (for fish) to several hours or more (beef, veal and game). Many bone broth advocates ask for even longer cooking times, such as a day or more. Tjahyadi cooks his broth for 36 hours.
Keep in mind that as the ingredients slowly infuse the broth, prolonged cooking will also cause evaporation, concentrating the flavor of the broth and thickening its texture. This is called reduction. For this reason, avoid seasoning the broth until you have finished cooking it; otherwise, the seasoning may be too strong for the broth.
After preparing a batch of broth, use it as a base for soups and stews, sauces and sauces. Or simply enjoy it by the glass.
“I don’t like the term bone broth, but I like the trend,” says Ruhlman. “I love that people appreciate something so healthy and nutritious.”
I think we can all drink from this.