One of the staple things I like to make when I don’t feel the best is a good bone broth. When you think about it, why do we crave something like chicken soup when we’re sick? Besides being warm and soothing, it contains many nutrients that are easily digested and excellent for gut healing. For millennia, hunter-gatherers would enjoy every part of an animal, including the dense nutrition found in bone marrow. Unlike most store bought broth/stock, properly prepared bone broth contains collagen, gelatin, complete amino acids, and various minerals. The benefits of bone broth are worthy of another post altogether, I wanted to provide a quick and easy guide for preparing one. If this is your first time preparing one, I recommend starting with a whole chicken that combines both the meat and bones for the broth. A beef or bison bone broth from a grass fed source has the added benefit of a significant amount of Omega 3, whereas chicken is significantly higher in Omega 6. Since beef or bison often has a stronger gamey taste by itself, it useful for some to mix it with a chicken bone broth to mild out the flavor and/or adding it to soups and stews.
Chicken broth from both meat and bone
1 raw whole chicken
3 mediums sized carrots
½ of a celery stock
4 garlic cloves
- Place whole raw chicken (frozen or thawed) into a 6 quart or larger crockpot—so long as the chicken can easily fit in the crockpot with the lid closed.
- Add enough water to nearly cover chicken and fill the crockpot.
- Turn crockpot to high heat and leave for a few hours, depending on if the chicken was originally thawed or frozen. Check for doneness by using a fork and the meat should easily come off the bone and look cooked through.
- Remove the chicken from the crockpot with a couple of large forks/spoons and debone meat off the chicken.
- Take the larger bones and place on a cutting board. Cover with a cloth or paper towel to prevent splatter in the next step.
- Use a meat tenderizer and pound on the bones through the cover to break the bones apart and expose the marrow. Place bones and remaining carcass (including skin and cartilage) back into the crockpot with the meat broth. Alternatively one does not need to break apart the bones, but pour a splash of apple cider vinegar to the broth, which helps extract the marrow from the bone—this is most commonly recommended. However, I’ve noticed the broth is much richer tasting when the bones are broken and the marrow is exposed, so I highly recommend doing this step (this just goes for bones that are soft enough to break, such as chicken, turkey, and other fowl).
- Optional: for added flavor cut up carrots and celery and add to broth (onions, garlic, spices and herbs can also be added). On a personal note, for convenience I rarely do this step, since I try to minimize prep time, while still getting the health benefits from the broth, and it motivates me to make it more consistently when things are simpler. If the flavor is a driving factor for you, definitely add the tolerated vegetables and any spices you enjoy.
- Let simmer on low heat for another 1-2 days.
- Turn off heat and strain bones through a metal colander into a large glass or stainless steel mixing bowl. Dispose the bones and remnants, and let broth cool for an hour or two. Pour broth into mason jars and store in the refrigerator
While I really enjoy the combined meat broth mixed with the bone broth of chicken, a simple bone broth is also good. Whether getting them from the butcher or storing up the bones from leftover meals in the freezer, bone broth is an excellent staple to anyone’s diet.
Bone broths in general
- Get bones from a butcher (any of the following):
- Precut beef bones (marrow and/or knuckle bones)
- Chicken feet (most gelatinous out of all broths, will become gelatinous once stored in refrigerator)
- Chicken or turkey (leftover Thanksgiving carcass!) bones—recommend crushing bones in the manner described earlier
- Fish heads
- Place in crock pot about one-third to one-half full with bones and cover the rest of the way with water.
- Add chopped carrots, onions, garlic, and celery, if desired, for added flavor.
- Set to low heat, cover and cook for 1-3 days, adding water as needed.
- Turn off heat and strain bones through metal colander into a large glass or stainless steel mixing bowl.
- Throw out bones (and mushy vegetables when added) and let the broth cool for an hour or two.
- Pour broth into mason jars and store in the refrigerator.
Comment below on any vegetables, spices and herbs you like to use in your broth recipes.