Updated: Jan 17
Do you ever wonder what all the fuss about broth is about?
You hear everything from, “It’s a miracle food!” to, “Broth is disgusting!” And why not just buy the stuff at the grocery store, anyway? You know, those little cubes or boxes of beef or chicken “broth”? It’s so much easier, and less messy too!
I grew up with a mom who used beef bouillon cubes, and cans of chicken “stock”. Funny how, once I started making my own, things just didn’t taste the same at all…
It took me awhile to comprehend the delights of real broth or stock*. In the early days of my marriage, (now more than 34 years ago) my father-in-law used to ask me why I threw out the bones when I roasted a chicken or cooked a ham. I’d scratch my head, shrug my shoulders and say, “What else am I supposed to do with them?” But as I watched him cook it did not escape my notice that he never threw such things in the trash. In fact, he didn’t throw much out at all; he had learned from the family cook way back during his childhood years in Havana, Cuba, the value of utilizing everything, wasting nothing.
And so I began to experiment; not very successfully at first and sometimes having to toss it all out to the chickens, but eventually his example caught on. And when, after years had passed, I first began studying my Nourishing Traditions Cookbook by Sally Fallon (now, Sally Fallon Morell), things started to click.
I discovered that homemade stock (or broth) was not even the same animal (no pun intended) as that flavor-deficient stuff on the store shelves; it lacked many important qualities as compared to what one could produce with a little time, patience, and a great big stock pot (not the least of which was taste).
Homemade stock or broth does take a little patience, but it pays off big time! Its benefits go far beyond just taste, however magnificent this may be. It turns out that a long, slow simmering of bones, skin, organs, and connective tissue from all manner of animals (along with vegetables and herbs) provide a myriad of health benefits as well. These include building strong bones, boosting the immune system, improving the complexion, growing strong nails, and perhaps most importantly: detoxifying and repairing the gut. What’s not to love?!
And so I have set out to demystify the art of making stock. It’s really so simple, it almost seems silly. And yet in a day when fast, easy, and packaged food reigns, this is of critical importance. Because without going back to real foods, including real broth or stock, we can never fully experience the culinary delights that beg our attention, nor the very real health benefits that such provides.
Basic Meat Broth/Stock:
Carcass of 2 chickens or 1 whole chicken, roasted or fresh (roasting brings out more robust flavor. In culinary terms, “Maillard Reaction”). Or 2.5 lbs meaty beef, lamb, or pork bones
1 or 2 whole onions, peeled & quartered
2 stalks celery, including the leaves
2 whole carrots, broken
2-4 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
1 bay leaf
Several sprigs fresh thyme, tarragon, marjoram, basil, rosemary and/or sage (or ½-1 Tbsp each dried) or herbs according to flavors desired. I often used lemongrass, fresh ginger & turmeric, etc.
¼ cup apple cider vinegar, fresh lemon juice, or wine
1-2 Tbsp unrefined salt
A few whole peppercorns crushed (optional)
1 sprig fresh parsley (not dried; drying causes the parsley to lose flavor, as does cooking, hence the recommendation to add after cooking time is complete.)
Throw everything but the parsley into either an InstaPot, or a large stock pot. Cover with high quality water. For the IP, close the steam release valve and set for broth. In a stockpot, bring to a low boil and reduce to simmer, heating for 12-24 hours. For a stock pot, set for at least 12 hours. But please, do not boil! Add the parsley to the hot stock, off heat, and allow to infuse for 15 minutes or so.
At the end of cooking strain through a colander. Reserve the vegetables, along with the meat picked from the bones, after all is cooled. This can be used for soup, casseroles, snacking, whatever you would like.
The only caveat is this: if you or someone you love is sensitive to MSG, please reduce the simmer time by half. The glutamic acid found in connective tissue is bound, whereas the process of a very long, slow simmer (or boil) breaks those bonds, releasing glutamic acid which is more commonly known as, “free glutamic acid” or, “MSG”.
Ideas for using stock or broth:
As a base for soups and casseroles
Stock/broth is the base for nearly every classic gravy and sauce
Use to cook rice, quinoa, or other grains
Better than milk for meatloaf
Excellent for steaming vegetables
Tasty as an anytime treat, along or with vegetables, rice, etc.
Consume at least once daily for healing and soothing the gut
Now, go forth and make thee thy broth! And when you’ve completed your first batch, let me know how it went…
*Cooking Notes: Stock is made from bones, while broth is made mostly from meat and/or vegetables. The two terms are, however, used interchangeably.