“Good broth resurrects the dead.” – South American Proverb
Back in early April, when I was ramping up my miles for Boston and trying not to make matters worse with my Achilles, I read an article about the hottest food trend in 2015 coming out of NYC – bone broth. Yep, actually drinking broth made from random animal bones is supposed to be all the rage. In Brooklyn, a chef even opened up a broth “take out” window- Brodo- devoted to sippable broths due to its increasing popularity. I’d read about it before – about how broth can boost gut health and fight inflammation by providing a dose nutrients like magnesium, potassium, calcium, amino acids, and collagen. Blah, blah, blah. And being a somewhat devoted follower of a Paleo diet, bone broth comes up in my recipe search on Pinterest more and more often. I wasn’t jumping on the broth band wagon and even read a hilarious article about the new trend from USA Today that convinced me it was probably unnecessary for me to try it.
Then, a moment of desperation. I think I Googled something along the lines of, “magically fix a jacked up Achilles” or something. Can you guess what popped up? Apparently, all I needed to be doing all along was sipping on some bone broth and all would be right in the world. To intrigue me even further, there was an article about Kobe Bryant. Supposedly, he healed his torn Achilles in record time and came back and scored like a bajillion points or something in the same season, and he credited it all to bone broth. Please – I know nothing about basketball (is that even what he plays? Do you score points or goals?) but suddenly, I was all in. I left work that day, bought myself a chicken and got started. I’m almost embarrassed to say that I haven’t stopped with the bone broth since. Almost.
I did a little research and understood the cooking methodology around the whole ordeal (read: even if you suck at cooking, you got this). I call it an ordeal because the process is quite lengthy. Since I don’t have piles of animal bones lying around the house, the broth making process involves me having to cook some sort of animal prior to even beginning the actual broth. I realize you can ask a butcher for a bag of bones (that just sounds so gross) but I haven’t gotten that desperate yet. Here’s my process, in a nutshell: I buy a whole chicken (I shoot for something over 6lbs, if possible). Season and roast said chicken in my crock pot on low for eight hours. De-bone the chicken (I use the meat for dinner or chicken salad or something). Roast the bones, put them back in the crock pot with the drippings from the chicken and some random veggies, and cook on low for 24 hours. Voila…bone broth. I’ll break the process down for you a little later. It really isn’t very involved at all – just long.
So I showed up at work the next day with my mason jar of broth. I heated it in the microwave – I hate microwaves, but desperate times and a jacked up Achilles call for desperate measures – and started sipping. I swear when I got up and walked down the hall a few periods later, my Achilles felt better. So I kept drinking. And making more batches of broth. Over a month later and I’m still riding the “bone broth a day keeps the doctor away” train. I did get through Boston and was pleased with my time, and I certainly didn’t try any magic spells that I found on the all-knowing Google. But I did try bone broth.
Is it really magic? I have no idea. But I’m so not stopping now – I have a batch going in my crock pot as we speak. I’ve tried all kinds of crazy crap to heal an injury, and bone broth has got to be one of the weirdest. What can I say? Don’t knock it until you try it. Here’s my own personal recipe for the concoction:
- 3-4 lbs of bones (I usually use chicken bones, but any combination will work)
- Random veggies: onions, carrot, celery, garlic, etc.
- 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
- Filtered water
- 1 Bay leaf
- Optional: any of the giblets or organ meats from your animal (seriously, I know it sounds gross but I’ve done it both ways – it really does give it a richer flavor!)
The first part of this process is optional but it makes your broth a little darker in color and supposedly more flavorful, so I always do it: Preheat your oven to 375, toss the bones on a cookie sheet and roast for 20-25 minutes. I do this, you could totally skip it if you are not trying to make it more of a lengthy process.
Toss the veggies in a crock pot. You can keep the onion skin on, and just do a quick rough chop. I quarter my onions and roughly chop my carrots and celery – the pieces are usually quite large and I don’t peel anything. If you are using the giblets or the “gross” stuff (I do), toss those in, too. Add your apple cider vinegar – it’s a crucial ingredient to promote breaking down the bones to infuse your broth with all of those nutrients found in the marrow – and your bay leaf. Cover with filtered water.
Cook on low. Cooking times will vary. For chicken bones, you’re looking at 24-36 hours-ish. I am finding I like to cook mine longer. I end up switching my crock pot from “low” to “keep warm” (mine keeps it really hot and should say “keep scorching” so it works) around the 24 hour mark. Beef bones take longer to break down and you are looking at more of like a 48 hour kind of deal. Last time, I had a mix of chicken and beef bones (I had some chuck roast with a bone in it – you would have thought I hit the lottery with my reaction when I realized I had beef bones for my broth) and the beef bones were MUCH more dense and didn’t break down as quickly.
After you’ve cooked it for what seems like an eternity, strain it through a fine mesh strainer and into whatever storage container works best for you. Refrigerate your magical concoction. TIP: Don’t strain or scrape the fat off the top when it separates in the fridge. The fat will settle on top, creating a “seal” – it can keep up to six months in the fridge if you “don’t break the seal”! When you heat it up, whatever solidified in the refrigeration process will become liquid. For me, it all goes down the hatch – fat and all.
I get about a half gallon of broth and I pour mine into 8 oz mason jars and take them to work everyday. It’s portable and easy for me to have it as a hot beverage sometime during the day. But you could use the broth and make a soup recipe to enjoy as a meal, or even just use it in your regular cooking whenever a recipe calls for broth or stock. I love soup, so for me, I enjoy my daily dose of bone broth and look forward to it. Does it work? No clue. I’ll wait until after my next marathon to stop and find out, though.
What do you think about bone broth as a possible cure for ailments? What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever tried when you find yourself sidelined with an injury?