Food Is Not Your Enemy

The Benefits of Bone Broth
April 29, 2011, 9:42 am
Filed under: Books, Meat, Recipes | Tags: , , , ,

Ever seen the ingredients on a package of bouillon cubes? Each cube is basically a chemical cocktail of MSG, partially hydrogenated oil, salt, sugar, and TBHQ, a preservative that is a form of butane (lighter fluid).

This isn’t what our grandmothers used to make chicken soup.

Unfortunately, as we’ve turned more and more toward pre-packaged convenience foods like bouillon, Americans have just about lost the art of making homemade soup stock from chicken, beef, or fish bones. “Who has the time?” we say. Or, “Why bother?”

Healthy food–some of it, anyway–can take some time to prepare. But the health benefits you’ll reap from a homemade stock make it well worth your time and effort.

In her influential cookbook “Nourishing Traditions,” Sally Fallon Morell posits, after extensive research into the nutritional value of traditional foodways, that meat stocks are extremely good for us. They contain the minerals of bone, cartilage, marrow, and vegetables as electrolytes, in a form that is easily absorbed into the body. Stocks also contain plenty of natural gelatin, which is a digestive aid that has been used to successfully treat such digestive disorders as colitis and Crohn’s disease. Gelatin also allows our bodies to more fully utilize the proteins we ingest. Another important compound found in meat stock is collagen, used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and other ailments, and also essential for strong bones. And fish stocks boiled with fish heads are particularly nourishing to the thyroid gland (the fish heads contain the fish thyroid, which adds thyroid hormone into the soup).

So think about taking some time to make a stock once in a while. You can make a big batch and freeze it in small containers, so that you can just grab some when cooking sauces or soups at a future date. Here’s my husband’s recipe for chicken stock, which he makes every time we finish eating a roast chicken at home:

Homemade Chicken Stock

1 chicken carcass, broken into pieces

1 onion, peeled and cut in half

2 celery stalks, coarsely chopped

3 medium carrots, coarsely chopped

1/2 bunch parsley, whole stalks

Few pinches fresh or dried thyme

Few stalks fresh dill or 2 pinches dried

3 whole peppercorns

Put all ingredients together in a large pot. Cover with water, an inch above the ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer. Simmer, covered, for 2 hours, skimming off any foam that collects on top.

Let cool slightly. Strain into another pot. Smash down the solid ingredients in the strainer with a wooden spoon to squeeze out all the liquids. Discard the solid ingredients and let the stock cool in the refrigerator overnight.

Skim fat solids off the top. Return to the stove to a boil. Boil the stock until it is reduced by half. Once cool, store stock in the refrigerator (if you’ll be using it within a few days) or in the freezer in small containers.