Big on Broth

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The bone broth trend may actually be simmering after years in the spotlight where it made appearances in folksy-looking jars on the shelves of specialty shops, Whole Foods, and even entire stores dedicated to the golden-hued elixir (thinking of Brodo in NYC). Celebrities were busy touting its benefits and even the LA Lakers got behind the movement with Kobe Bryant attributing his recovery from a major injury to the healing benefits of broth. Some have even called broth the new coffee, choosing to fill their morning mug with chicken or beef broth (it’s not as crazy as it sounds! I often sip broth while getting ready to start the day).

But trends come and trends go — what’s real stays put. Broth has been a staple of healing traditions for centuries. It’s warming, curative powers are especially beneficial to new mothers who have lost lots of blood during childbirth. Broth is hydrating and lubricating, but doesn’t tax the digestive system — ideal for a body in recovery and ideal for a body producing milk for its young. The other day my son was watching a documentary on hyenas. I was excited to learn that a hyena cub will nurse for six hours straight! This is only possible because mother hyenas will eat an entire carcass before nursing her young — bones, cartilage, and all. Broth has the same effect on new mothers. When you cook bones slowly for hours the cartilage and gelatinous bits integrate into the broth. These are the parts of the animal that are rich in amino-acids and minerals like magnesium, phosphorus and many other trace minerals and this is why broth is so healing and regenerating — and so sustaining for those engaging in energy-expending activities like six-hour nursing sessions.  

There are simple, delicious broth recipes in The First Forty Days, and I’m always looking for new ways to enhance this kitchen staple. Often I make broth based on what I find at my local farmer’s market here in in LA. I walk up to the organic meat purveyor and ask: “what are the best bones you have for a broth, today?” This week I was given beef marrow, beef neck, a bag of 10 chicken feet, among other bones. I like to make my broth sweeter by adding carrots, red dates, and a big pinch of brown sugar. This gives the broth a rich umami flavor (“umami” is often translated as the “fifth taste” and is a rich, savory flavor often associated with things like mushrooms, aged cheeses, and meats). I drink this super flavorful broth on its own or use as a base for rich soups and stews.

How do you like your broth?

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Makes eight to ten 16oz jars. Keep in fridge for up to 7 days or freeze. When freezing, leave 1 inch at top of glass jar and place lid lightly on top. Once frozen tighten lid completely.

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil

2.5 lb beef marrow bones

1.5 lb any beef soup bones

1.35 lb beef neck

10 pieces chicken feet

1 onion cut in half

6 medium to large carrots

1 bunch celery

8 red dates (optional)

sea salt

pepper

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

sprig of thyme or any other herbs you desire

Instructions:

Heat olive oil in a big pot over medium high heat. Once the pot is really hot lightly brown the onion halves then add all the meat and bones. Make sure the meat and bones get a fair share of surface heat to brown. Add sea salt and pepper to the meat and bones. Once everything is lightly browned add the carrots and celery and fill with cold water one inch above the ingredients.

Add the red dates (optional) and thyme. Bring it to a boil then lower the heat to medium. Move the pot half way off the burner so part of the broth is boiling and the other half collects the oils (skim throughout the cooking process).

Lower the heat to low and let the broth cook up to 24 hours on the stove to bring about the full flavor and benefits (the longer it cooks the more rich and nutritious your broth will be). If you can’t wait 24 hours, cook as long as you can. If you’re using a slow-cooker you can move the contents off the stove and into your slow cooker and cook overnight. When broth is finished add sea salt to taste.

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