Recently I posted a pic of a pot of bone broth and all of the sudden the questions and comments came rolling in. It would seem that many of you are making bone broth at home, some of you want to make it but are a bit nervous, and some of you just want more pro-tips on how to make it better. Message received! I thought we should move this conversation off Facebook and over here so that we could really dig in. Let’s talk bone broth!!
If you’re at all like me, you may have been skeptical when this bone broth trend popped up. I couldn’t understand why everyone was suddenly so excited about a pot of stock. What was so special about this simple liquid. So I did some research and learned that the pot of chicken stock I’ve been making every two weeks for years is not the same thing as the bone broth that’s suddenly trending. Close, but not the same.
As both a chef who is interested in flavor and an eater who is interested in nutritious foods, I am an equal-opportunity user of stock, broth and bone broth. They all have a place in my kitchen. In an effort to understand the difference so you can decide which one is right for you, here is a brief breakdown:
Broth is the lightest of these liquids. It is a mixture of water and vegetables, (usually) meat and (sometimes) animal bones that get cooked for a relatively short period of time, typically around an hour. The result is a lightly flavored, lightly colored broth that will stay liquid when it’s chilled – a sign that there is little collagen present in the finished broth. Broth is best used as a base for soups. Pro-tip: I often make broth with the leftover carcass from a roast chicken.
Stock begins in a similar manner, with vegetables and water, but always includes animal bones, which are often roasted. It’s cooked longer than broth, typically around 4 hours, with the goal of extracting lots of flavor and some collagen from the bones. Stock will be a bit gelatinous when it’s chilled and it a critical building block in most professional kitchens. Use it to make a quick pan sauce, to cook risotto, to braise meats; use it anywhere you want the liquid to boost the overall umami of a dish.
Like the name suggests, bone broth is all about the bones. It has a higher bone-to-water ratio and cooks for a lot longer, often for more than 24 hours. Through this extended cooking process (and often the addition of apple cider vinegar), the bones release not only their collagen but also other minerals. Bone broth is considered by many a health tonic because its gelatin and minerals can help support digestion and boost your immune system. With an abundance of collagen present, you are getting a health dose of protein from bone broth, too. Sip on this tasty liquid as a meal, use it to make a hearty soup or add it anywhere you would use stock in your cooking.
I’ve been really into drinking bone broth for breakfast or lunch. It’s filling (because of all the collagen) and soul-satisfying. I don’t know if there’s a better soul-food out there. Whether you’re interested in it for health or strictly as a culinary work-horse, you will absolutely benefit from making it at home.
Cooking broth for 24 hours, however, can feel like a daunting task in a home kitchen. My answer is: use a pressure cooker. You can get all the same nutrition and taste benefits in just 4 hours of cooking. If you have never used a pressure cooker, check out some tips here and if you want more info I highly recommend this book for a complete primer on pressure cookers. Bottom line: they are really easy to use, the new ones don’t explode on you, and they can save you hours in the kitchen while producing amazing results.
The key to good broth is sourcing good bones. I like using a combination of chicken wings or feet and beef knuckle bones. Since you are essentially extracting and concentrating the minerals found in the bones, you want them to be free of any chemicals that may have been fed to the animals. Look for bones from organic chicken and grass-fed beef.
If you’re going to go to the trouble of making your own broth, you’ll want to end up with at least four quarts. When I make a batch, I freeze half and keep half in my fridge to eat throughout the week. I usually add a bit of tamari, sesame oil and ginger to some of it, which I will sip for breakfast or lunch. The rest I leave unseasoned and use as a base for other soups or sauces.
I hope you make a batch and enjoy! Share your pics on Instagram and tag me so I can see what you’ve made!
- 3 pounds chicken wings or feet
- 4 pounds beef bones
- 2 yellow onions, halved
- 4 celery stalks, cut in half
- 3 large carrots, cut in half
- 2 handfuls parsley
- 2-inch knob ginger
- 1 whole head garlic, cut in half
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- Place all of the ingredients in a pressure cooker. Cover with cold water by about 2-3 inches. Don’t add more water – you want this to be a concentrated broth.
- Place the pot over high heat. Bring to a boil, skimming off any foam or impurities.
- Once the pot begins to boil, lock the lid into place. Wait a few minutes until the pressure button raises, then immediately reduce heat to low.
- Cook under pressure for 3 ½ hours. Remove from heat and let pressure release naturally (don’t do the “quick release”). Once the pressure button is down, you will be able to safely unlock the lid and remove. Strain the broth and discard the solids. Place the broth in a large pot or bowl and let cool on the counter for 2 hours. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
- The next day, skim the fat that has collected on the top of the broth and discard.
- The broth should be gelatinous like loose Jell-O. At this point, divide the broth if desired and freeze anything you think you won’t eat within a week.
- For "sipping broth," add a few splashes of tamari, a drop or two of sesame oil and some grated fresh ginger.