Making stocks and bone broths are essentials of the professional kitchen but also one of the most primal ways to extract essential nutrients from food. But, why use them at home?
Stocks and bone broths are cheap to make, and a way to get more use out of something that would otherwise be thrown away. It is not just a myth that chicken soup and other bone broths will help heal a common cold (among other things). In making bone broths, you’ll notice that the softer tissues (like cartilage on chicken bones) break down. Gelatin is present in these bones and in more abundance in pork, and veal specifically. The gelatin is one of the most important parts to stocks because of it’s anti-inflammatory properties and it’s association with healing the gut. Collagen, glucosamine and chondroitin are popular supplements for joint health and are found in animal bones and shellfish, so one would assume that making stock from these bones or shellfish exoskeletons, would provide a natural dietary supplement to the body for better joint health. These broths are also a great way to get some extra minerals such as calcium, magnesium and phosphorus into the diet. However, one of the only recent peer-reviewed articles I found relating to the improvement of joint health through diet or supplementation, relates to osteoporosis and arthritis and a specific type of collagen supplement; Undenatured type II Collagen, of which is obtained using the sternum of chicken. The process of obtaining this though, requires low heat that won’t denature the collagen to a form that is not effective for the previously mentioned conditions. (Making stock or broth uses relatively high heat and may denature the type II collagen) Therefore, Just consuming a bunch of chicken broth though I certainly would consider it a healthy practice for healing the gut, may not be the cure-all to better joint health. Here is a link to that article: http://www.jissn.com/content/10/1/48
The correct way to make stock (from any type of animal bones) in order to properly extract the gelatin, flavor, and impurities is to start it in cold water and slowly bring up the temperature to a slow simmer, do not boil! Over time, skim any impurities off the surface. Making a stock or bone broth isn’t something that should be taken lightly, you cannot make a good soup or stew without a good stock! My other focus with making a bone broth or stock from a nutritional perspective is to provide a vehicle that is highly customize-able to ones specific caloric needs and taste preferences. I am concerned more with the macro-nutrients than the micro-nutrients in this case, because a hearty soup for example; containing meat, beans, rice, mushrooms, kale and other vegetables can be one of the most balanced and nutritious meals if done correctly. Aside from just soups, this stock can also be used as a braising liquid for vegetables or other meats, as the home cook typically won’t have a repertoire of different stocks lying around. By following an approach to nutrition that encompasses the use of diverse, local, seasonal, and good quality ingredients while focusing specifically on an appropriately calculated caloric intake, it would be hard to become deficient in any specific nutrient. The recipe below can be modified based on preference, therefore, some of the ingredients are listed as choices based on preference.
Roasted Chicken Stock
2 Roasted chicken carcasses (or more if you have them)
5 Onions (white or yellow, rough chop, browned)
5 Carrots (rough chop, browned)
10 Celery stalks (rough chop, browned)
(Classic Stock Herbs: marjoram, sage, thyme, parsley, rosemary, bay leaf)
I used: 5 Bay leaves, 9 Sage leaves, 4 stalks of Rosemary, 12 whole black peppercorns
Method of Prep
- Toss the chopped vegetables in a bit of canola oil or animal fat, spread on a sheet tray, and put into an oven set at 400F.
- Put all other ingredients into a stock pot, they are best if everything is cold or room temp. Make sure nothing is hot. When vegetables are nicely browned, remove from the oven and let them cool. Add them to the stock pot. Cover with cold water. Using cold water will allow for a clearer stock with less impurities, but more importantly the gradual increase in temperature will be much better for extracting gelatin from the bones.
- Slowly bring stock to a slow simmer and hold for about 4-5 hours.
- When stock is finished, very slowly strain through a fine strainer and cool using an ice bath, so that it cools quickly.
- Once cooled, keep refrigerated for later use (typically not more than three days).
*In an upcoming recipe, see how this stock is used for a hearty chicken soup.