How to make Bone Broth

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“I think preparing food and feeding people brings nourishment not only to our bodies but to our spirits. Feeding people is a way of loving them, in the same way that feeding ourselves is a way of honoring our own createdness and fragility.” 
― Shauna Niequist

Bone broth is essentially bones and vegetables simmered together over long periods of time to produce a rich flavoursome liquid. I make a big pot of this nourishing broth weekly, and it’s an important part of my healing regime. I’d always made my own stock, but after I began to understand the benefits of consuming bone broths I made them much more central to my regular meals. Maybe you should too!

Here’s why they are good for you:

  • Bone broths are full of collagen, gelatin, glucosamine and chondroiton. These substances will plump up your skin and make your hair and nails strong and healthy. More importantly they will rebuild connective tissue, reducing pain and inflammation while promoting healthy functioning of joints, bones, blood, nerves, muscles, brain and organs.
  • Bone broths promote healing and slow the aging process.
  • Bone broths are great for the immune system – building it up and making it strong. They are rich in fat and water soluble vitamins, enzymes, and amino acids. More on the good stuff in bone broth here.
  • They are easy to digest, and actually aid the digestion and assimilation of vegetables, meats, grains and legumes.
  • Bone broths heal the mucosal membrane of your gut – so it’s great for anyone with Chrohns, coeliacs, IBS, ulcers and other digestive or bowel issues.
  • Bone broths also support healthy metabolic and thyroid function.

Here’s what you need to make them…

Raw bones of beef or veal, or fish or chicken carcasses.  A few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar (or whatever vinegar you have to hand). Water. Herbs of your choice and a mix of vegetables such as carrots, onions, celery are optional but advisable for depth of flavour and added nutritional value.

Today I’ll share my beef bone broth recipes! I have a standard stock recipe, and one with an asian twist. They’re easy so I’ll include them both.

Ingredients:

2 kilos of beef bones (preferably organic and grass fed – bones aren’t expensive, so do your best to get good quality raw material for your broth!), 2 tablespoons of coconut oil, 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, 3 to 4 litres of water.

Standard version:

To your beef bones, water and vinegar add 3 carrots roughly chopped, 3 garlic cloves crushed with skin still on, 2 large brown onions – skin on and cut in wedges, 4 sticks of celery roughly chopped, 1 large bunch of parsley, one dried bay leaf, 6 cloves, 12 to 15 peppercorns.

Asian version:

To your beef bones, water and vinegar add 3 carrots roughly chopped, 3 garlic cloves crushed with skin still on, 2 large brown onions – skin on and cut in wedges, one inch of fresh ginger – thinly sliced, a small bunch of shallots/green onions/scallions roughly chopped, one packet of Chinese beef soup base herbs or 6 star anise, one dessertspoon of fennel seeds, 2 or 3 large curls of cinnamon bark, 1 strip of orange peel (no pith!), 6 cloves, 12 to fifteen peppercorns. One to two tablespoons each of  Tamari (wheat free soy sauce) and sherry or Chinese cooking wine (optional) to finish.

Method:

Rub your bones with the coconut oil and place in a hot oven for about an hour until they are well browned. This caramelises the proteins and gives a beautiful rich flavour to your broth. Use the same method for chicken carcasses. Don’t bother for fish.

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Place the bones in the bottom of a big cauldron or slow cooker. Then deglaze your cooking pan with some hot water to get all of those delicious juices and flavours off. Tip in your hot water and rub the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon until the cooked juices lift and soften. Pour all of this over your soup bones.

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Pour the cold water and vinegar over the bones and let them sit for twenty minutes while you chop your vegetables and have a cup of tea. The acid in the vinegar helps to begin drawing the nutrients out of the bones and into the water. Now add your herbs and chopped vegetables. Here’s the packet of soup herbs I used for this broth:

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Bring the ingredients to the boil. Then turn down the heat and wait for the magic to happen. Cover and simmer slowly for a minimum of 12 hours. Top up with a little extra water if needed. I usually cook my bones broths for 24 hours – sometimes more!

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Turn off heat after allotted time and add tamari and sherry/cooking wine. Allow to cool.

Then strain off liquid and refrigerate. You can also batch the broth and freeze it.

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When the broth is cold you may choose to scoop the fat off the surface. It’s easy to do.

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What’s left behind will be a rich, gelatinous liquid – more jelly than soup. That’s all of that good collagen and gelatin enriching your broth, that will soon be enriching you.

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You may also want to pull any meat from the bones and store in fridge for use in soups, omelettes and stir fries. The meat will be stringy while hot but once it is chilled it will slice beautifully.

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Here’s my standard breakfast bone broth. I add a generous cup of cold bone broth to a saucepan, along with a handful of cold meat and broccoli florets (or whatever other green vegetable I fancy). For extra flavour I often pop in a slice or two of fresh ginger. I simmer this for two or three minutes.

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Removing the ginger I tip the broth into a bowl. It’s ready to go!

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Or for an added nutrient boost add a handful of chopped fresh herbs and vegetables such as tomato, capsicum (bell pepper) coriander and shallots/green onions/scallions.

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This is a delicious easy meal at any time of the day! Bone broth can also be drunk on its own, or added to soups, gravies, casseroles or any other recipe where you would use stock.

2014-01-10 07.38.06Hint: If you decide to make bone broth on a regular basis keep all the vegetable offcuts you would normally put in the compost from your shallots, carrots, onions, celery, beet tops etc and store them in a container in the fridge until you’re ready to use them. The carcass of your roast chicken or the lamb bone from your Sunday roast will also work well. Don’t be afraid to experiment!

Lemony Slow-Cooked Lamb Shanks Recipe

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“I cook with wine, sometimes I even add it to the food.” 
~ W.C. Fields

Slow cooked food – there’s nothing better to nurture the body and comfort the spirit, and this tasty dish fits the bill perfectly. Now that there’s a chill in the air here at the farm, a nourishing warm dinner is always welcome. I’ve adapted this recipe from my Grandmother’s so that it is gluten-free. It’s a firm favourite, no matter what time of year.

This meal is good for you! The lamb shanks create a rich bone broth during the long cooking time, and the nutrients are easily absorbed by even the weakest digestive systems.  The sauce will become full of the amino acid glycine, which is great for liver detoxification and regeneration.  It’s also rich in collagen and glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) which are important for artery, bone and joint health.  The gelatin produced from the well-cooked bones and cartilage helps heal leaky gut, and also reduces your need for meat and protein.

In Chinese Medicine, bone broths are considered to support the kidneys and kidney meridians, and as such are also useful for healthy teeth, bones and adrenal gland function. So if you are feeling unwell, suffering low energy or have adrenal fatigue this is a super meal for you!

This recipe uses the tang of lemon to compliment the lamb, and a dash of sweet vermouth gives the whole meal a little extra zip. (I use Cinzano Bianco but any sweet vermouth will do.)  At a pinch you could use white wine, but truly – if you can – use the vermouth.  I keep a bottle in the cupboard just for this recipe!

These lamb shanks are quick to throw together but  the secret to the silky, melt-in-your-mouth meat is to cook the whole dish slowly, over a long time-frame.  If you have a slow cooker with a timer, then chuck it all in so it’s ready when you come home from work.  This recipe is versatile enough to cook in a big saucepan on top of the stove, or in a covered casserole dish or roasting tray in your oven.  It also reheats and freezes like a charm!

Ingredients:

6 to 8 frenched or trimmed lamb shanks (this means that the end of the shank bone will have been cut off, exposing the marrow – the meat may have also been pushed away to reveal a clean bone at one end); 6 cloves of garlic, crushed; 1 carrot roughly diced; 1 stick of celery chopped; 1 large onion chopped finely; 3 dried bay leaves; 1 heaped teaspoon tumeric; 2 tablespoons of almond meal; 1 cup of good chicken stock; 1 cup of sweet vermouth; 1 to 2 tablespoons of ghee, olive  or coconut oil; juice and finely grated rind of 2 lemons; 2 tablespoons of quinoa (you could also try red lentils or pearl barley), salt and pepper

Method:

Note:  A few words of wisdom before we begin! Find a saucepan or roasting pan big enough to fit all of your lamb shanks. Of course you can also use your slow cooker – just make sure that you have checked the size of your pot BEFORE you start cooking…

Add a little oil or ghee to the bottom of a heavy-based frypan, season the meat with salt and pepper and fry off your lamb shanks in batches over medium heat so that they are lightly browned. Then arrange your meat in the cooking pot.  Poke the bay leaves in between the shanks.

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Next place your onion, carrot, garlic and celery in the frypan with a little extra oil or ghee if needed and cook until fragrant and beginning to brown slightly.

Stir through your tumeric and then add your quinoa, chicken stock, lemon zest and almond meal.  Mix well and then pour over the lamb.

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Pour your vermouth and lemon juice over the lamb shanks and vegetables – don’t worry about stirring it, it will all mix itself up during the cooking. Ladle some of the liquid over the meat.

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Cover and cook.  Don’t be put off by the long cooking times.  The longer you cook the meat the more tender it will be, and the more goodness will be imparted to the sauce.

Cook on low in a slow cooker for 6 hours.

Cook on low heat in a saucepan on the stove for 4 to 5 hours.  Turn your shanks at least once during this time, and re-baste with sauce.

Cook in a moderate oven (180 degrees celsius/ 350 degrees fahrenheit) for 30 minutes, and then reduce heat to 150 degrees celsius/ 300 degrees fahrenheit) and cook for 3 hours.  Turn your shanks at least once during this time, and re-baste with sauce.

Serve with your favourite seasonal vegetables, and some mash, rice or pasta if it suits you. A good bread to mop up the juices is always welcome too.

When cooked low and slow the marrow and gelatin from the meat help thicken the sauce. Don’t waste any of it!  Whatever is not eaten with dinner can be used as a basis for a pasta sauce, or as a gravy over other meats or vegetables.

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The meat will be so tender you will be able to flake it off the bone with just a fork.

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If you have left-over lamb shanks, you can also flake the meat off the bones, add it to the remaining sauce and then reheat this as another meal, or thin it out to make soup.

Heal-All Chicken Soup Recipe

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“If you’re blue, have the flu, or can’t seem to … then Chicken Soup is for you.” ~ Anon

Looking for a quick meal to throw together? This is not it!  My Heal-All Chicken Soup recipe takes time – 8 to 12 hours minimum. I make this soup as medicine in a bowl…

Home-made chicken soup is filled with nutrients, is easy to digest, and has proven anti-inflammatory ability as well as boosting your immune system (read more about that here).

The beauty of this soup is that it’s a bone broth, and over time all of the fat and water soluble minerals and good bits dissolve into this magical elixir.  One of the things this soup is chock full of is glycine. The amino acid glycine is great for liver detoxification and regeneration.  Chicken soup is rich in collagen and glycosaminoglycans (GAGs), one of which you’ve probably heard of – glucosamine – stunning for artery, bone and joint health.  The gelatin produced from dissolving bones and cartilage in the making of this soup helps heal leaky gut, and also reduces your need for meat and protein.

In Chinese Medicine, bone broths are considered to support the kidneys and kidney meridians, and as such are also useful for healthy teeth, bones and adrenal gland function. So if you have adrenal fatigue this is a super recipe for you!

Note: Where possible choose organic and fresh local produce. 🙂

You’ll need the following equipment and ingredients:

A large saucepan or crockpot and a colander

Ingredients – First Step

1 whole chicken – best if organic and free range, one onion chopped into quarters (I use a brown onion and leave the skin on), a tablespoon of peppercorns or cracked black pepper, three bay leaves, two large celery stalks, two carrots, a bunch of parsley, a large twist of lemon rind, up to 8 cloves of garlic (don’t be afraid of garlic – garlic is your body’s friend), two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. Note – The vinegar is important for helping extract the calcium and other minerals from the bones.

Method:

Place chicken in your large saucepan and cover with cold water. Add in your peppercorns, vinegar and bay leaves. Leave this sit while you prepare the rest of your vegetables.

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Lightly crush the garlic under a heavy bladed knife, peel off the skins and toss the whole cloves into the pot.  Then roughly chop your celery and carrots and add that in with the parsley and onion. Take a large slice of skin off a lemon and throw that in too.

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Bring the water slowly to the boil, and then reduce the heat to a slow simmer.  Cover and let cook for 2 to 3 hours.

Turn off heat, and let stand for ten minutes, then carefully remove chicken from pot, placing on a large dish until it cools enough to handle.

Strip as much flesh as you can from the bones, setting the skin to one side. Reserve the cooked chicken meat, cover and place in the refrigerator. Then add the skin and bones back into the pot.

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Bring the broth back to the boil and then reduce the heat, cover and simmer on very low heat for 6 to 8 hours.

Cool, and strain the broth into a large container. Pick over the bones if you want to retain any more chicken flesh, and then discard the strained contents.  I often leave my stock to cool in the saucepan overnight and finish it the next day. This is a sensible idea if you want to complete the second step and make a full bodied meat and vegetable soup.

The soup is now ready to serve as a simple broth, or to use in other recipes as a stock base. It also freezes well.

Ingredients – Second Step

6 to 8 cloves of garlic, 2 carrots, 2 stalks of celery, fleshy part of half a leek, one onion, one to two parsnips, up to one cup of diced pumpkin or sweet potato, some of the reserved chicken meat, another bunch of parsley, the remaining lemon, 1/2 cup of pearl barley, brown rice or pasta/small noodles of your choice (optional).

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Method:

Pour the broth back into the saucepan. Finely chop your garlic and onion and add that into the pot.Cut the lemon in half and drop that in too.

Then chop your chicken meat and other vegetables into small pieces and place in pot. Finely chop the parsley, and reserve some to sprinkle over your cooked soup.  Add the rest into your soup.

If you want, you can add in some pearl barley, rice or pasta for extra body.  This turns the soup into a filling meal, but it is also fine to leave out so that the soup is more of a broth consistency.

Bring the pot up to a simmer and then cover and cook for one hour. If you’ve added barley or rice etc, give the soup a good stir a few times during the cooking process to move things up off the bottom of the pot. Top up with a little water if needed, but if the heat is low and the lid is on you probably won’t need to do this.

Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove the lemon halves and discard. Serve soup with some of the reserved fresh parsley sprinkled over the top. The soup can be refrigerated for two to three days – just remove individual portions to heat up, and it also freezes well. Eat and enjoy. Wishing you the best of health! ♥ Nicole xx

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