You’ve heard all about it… Bone Broth. This new magic elixir that cures everything and is anti-aging and is loaded with protein and is a meal replacement but also health booster and blah blah blah.
Wanna know a secret?
It’s not new.
Wanna know another?
It’s just stock, y’all.
Broth = liquid made from poaching / boiling the meat and / or veggies (no bones) creating a thin and mostly clear, flavorful liquid to use in soups. It is liquid at all temperatures.
Stock = liquid made from poaching / boiling the meat on the bones, allowing the collagen (protein) within them to seep into the water creating a rich, flavorful and thick liquid. It congeals when chilled and becomes gelatinous as the collagen proteins turn into gelatin.
So… Basically Bone Broth = Oxymoron
And Bone Stock is redundant, so… I’ll just flock with the rest and keep on sayin’ Bone Broth, I guess.
Ok. I’ma throw some science on ya real fast. Hold tight.
Collagen is the connective tissue protein that gives the muscles and tendons strength, and the skin and bones resiliency. We all have it. Pigs just tend to have more of it in the animal kingdom, and so most commercial gelatin comes from their skin (some comes from cow-hide / bones or fish skin). A pig’s skin is roughly 30% collagen by weight, and the gelatin is made by first soaking the skin in an acid that untangles the protein bonds in the collagen. Then, those protein chains that are now free and unattached, are extracted and then dried into sheets or powder that become the gelatin we buy for cooking.
Ok, more. So… as proteins heat up they unravel, get sort of lost in space, and then bond to one another to create a solid mass – cooking an egg is a perfect example of this, right? The egg white goes from clear liquid, to firm white once heat is introduced. But gelatin is different, as their proteins don’t bond to one another… they don’t want to. Those gelatin proteins are like magnets after they begin to unravel in the heat… just out there floating around, trying to dodge eachother. So what ends up happening is the liquid they were floating around in stays fluid due to that lack of bondage. And since the proteins in gelatin are stringy – like long, thin ropes, they end up getting weaved up and braided and tangled and meshed up, causing that hot liquid to thicken… but never solidify like that egg white protein. Then, as that liquid cools, those proteins become a little more relaxed and less stressed out from all the running around and tangling (it’s like super late at night at this point and those proteins are just tired, y’all), so they sorta line up and lie down next to one another like little napping toddlers in preschool, and then slowly twist and cuddle themselves into ropes which ends up creating a firm gel once it’s completely cooled.
And that there’s your science lesson.
So really, all this talk on Bone Broth is just a re-vamp on an old classic : Stock. And now that you know what stock is, and how it’s made, you can understand that it’s pretty loaded with protein, making it a very nutrient dense sipper. And then you also that, once it’s cooled, it is meat jello.
That’s how you know it’s the gooood stuff.
OK. Yes. you can absolutely just throw some meat bones into some water with some veggies and aromatics and simmer it to get stock. Hell, I do it almost weekly and did it last night after I roasted a chicken (and tonight we shall have chicken soup*), but my recipe here for extra special Bone Stock ( 😉 ) takes it even further and the result is the most amazing and rich and flavorful and deep and lovely stock that I’ve been sipping on whenever I’m a little bit hungry and a little bit cold lately… it’s so very satisfying… and I’ve also used it in various sauces / soups / braises since I’ve made it. The shelf life is up to 6 months in the fridge if you keep the fat layer on top as a sealant. It also freezes well for several months. I would recommend freezing it in smaller freezer-safe zip bags for single / double serving amounts. Just place in the bags, flatten them onto a sheet pan, then place in the freezer until solid. Then you can stack them easily in your freezer.
What I do in this recipe is boil the meat first to start the breakdown process (and to get a lot of the gunk out… true story – that greyish foam / scum that rises to the top is just denatured protein (similar to the makeup of an egg white) and it’s harmless, but just ugly as sin and will make your stock mucky and grey), then I roast with veggies to develop flavor, then back in the stockpot for further simmering for 24 hours. I do not salt mine. This is so I can control the sodium depending on how I’m using it. I know I can add a little salt if I want to, but goodness, y’all – the stuff you’re buying if you’re buying it is mostly salt. And little nutrition. Plus, I’m prone to bloating and chances are the days I’m choosing to sip on this, are likely days that I need a little de-puffing. But salt as you will.
I chose to use a combination of pigs feet, pork neck bones and turkey neck. I got a tremendous amount of collagen with this combo. But, to be honest – you can use whatever thick boned bits you can find – knuckles, joints, feet and marrow are king if you can get any. Chicken feet work well mixed in because of the high amount of gelatin there, and they’re less expensive than most beef cuts… but chicken or turkey without any usage of a darker meat will not produce as rich of a stock. You can also beef up the flavor (ha) by adding meaty bits like short ribs, oxtail, shank… I would just rather braise those guys for dinner 😉
**PLEASE NOTE THAT YOU CAN ALSO ACHIEVE A DECENT STOCK BY SAVING BONES FROM PREVIOUS MEALS AND ACCUMULATING ENOUGH IN YOUR FREEZER FOR THIS RECIPE**
Just plain beef bits are clearly a good choice, this is just the combo that works best for me based on what I know I can find. If you don’t find any cuts of meat appropriate for this, ask your grocery store butcher and they can save some for you. You may need to call in advance and pre-order it. But a lot of the fancy stores just throw these cuts away, and that makes me so sad.
Oh. I also picked the meat off the bones when I was done and rolled that over into a pot pie the next day.
Don’t you just love food stories like that?
Guys. This really is, hands down, a phenomenal recipe for something that does your body so much good. It takes some time, yes.. but it’s low effort with a high payoff. It’s just time. Time spent doing something good.
How can you argue with that?
ABBEY’S BEST EVER BONE BROTH RECIPE FOR ALL MAGIC AND HEALTH
You will need :
- 1.5 lbs turkey neck
- 2.5 lbs. pork neck bones
- 2 lbs. pork feet, split
(You can change up the ratio and sub in any other boney bits you can find, but I suggest keeping the darker meat more than the poultry, if you’re using poultry at all. Just keep the amount of bones itself to around 6 pounds for this particular recipe / 3-4 quart yield.)
Get out your largest stockpot – the one you use when you’re making chili for a party –
- Place bones inside.
- Cover completely with water.
- Boil aggressively for 20 minutes.
- Drain, discard liquid.
- Line your largest roasting pan / sheet tray with foil.
- Preheat your oven to 450 if you are around to roast for 30-45 minutes, or 350 if you need to extend that time to 1 hour.
Place blanched bones on the sheet, along with :
- 1 onion, halved (no need to peel)
- 1 carrot, whole or broken in half (no need to peel)
- 1 celery stalk, whole or broken in half
Roast at 450 for 30-45 minutes, or at 350 for 1 hour. They are done when they look overdone.
Place the meaty bones, all veggies, and any drippings, etc. that may have accumulated on the pan back into that same large stockpot from before (if you have stubborn drippings on the pan, add some water to loosen them up and add to the pot.)
Add in the following :
- 1 full head of garlic, sliced in half, no need to peel
- Handful of black peppercorns
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 fresh rosemary sprig
(Even if you skip all those other aromatics, it’s ok. Don’t grow rosemary? Use thyme. Sage can work as well. Just don’t get too cheffy here… you don’t want muddled flavors)
Add just enough water to cover everything completely.
Cover with Lid.
Simmer overnight / all day, up to 24 hours.
My advice is to transfer it to a 200-225 degree oven if you’re letting this go overnight, for safety reasons. You will likely need to take out your oven racks to make room for the pot and the lid.
Skim any foam and scum when necessary… remember, it’s harmless, that foam. It’s just not what you’re gonna want your liquid to look like.
.. add salt to taste, if desired ..
Once the appropriate time has passed, strain this completely through a fine mesh sieve / colander, into heat safe bowls / containers for fridge storage.
Allow to cool to room temperature before transferring to the fridge to cool completely.
If you are short on time, I suggest placing in many small containers – the more shallow, the better, so it cools quicker.
Once it has cooled completely, likely the next day, remove from the fridge and scrape off all the fat from the top and discard.
Now you can heat it up for sipping, or put into recipes, or store for later! Remember, if you want to keep it in the fridge for up to 6 months, store in single use containers and keep the fat cap on to keep it safely sealed until ready to use. Otherwise I recommend long term storage being in the freezer in zip bags.
(And don’t forget to at least heavily consider picking the meat off the bones! I got 4 cups of meat from this! And a damn fine pot pie.)
thanks for reading, y’all. much love x
*watch an old vid of me making my easy weekday stock for chicken soup post-roast, HERE