Hot, Healing Broth For A Cold Winter | The Jewish Week | Food & Wine

Hot, Healing Broth For A Cold Winter

Bone Broth, courtesy Ronnie Fein

Bone broth - the kitchen remedy you need to make.

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What’s the deal with bone broth?

I was skeptical when it first became a thing, assuming it was some ambitious food writer’s way of setting a trend that, in the end, would turn out to be the same old meat stock invented by pre-history cavemen, acclaimed by the ancient Greek philosopher Socrates, and perfected by the great French chef Marie-Antoine Careme. I thought I would discover that its highly touted health benefits were nothing new – after all, haven’t we always called chicken soup “Jewish penicillin?”

Then I did some research and also cooked a few kettles full.

It’s true that bone broth is similar to meat or poultry stock. Cookbooks and recipe articles frequently use the words “stock” and “broth” to mean the same thing. But as a culinary matter, broth relies more on meat, stock more on bones. Bone broth is actually more like stock but is cooked much longer and as a result, it is thicker, more viscous and gelatinous than stock when finished.

Because bone broth contains so much collagen, calcium, amino acids, and other nutrients, food scientists and nutritionists have hailed its health benefits. Among other things, collagen reduces inflammation and therefore helps soothe joint pain and calm down the digestive tract. The various nutrients are also said to help build muscle, burn fat, and improve bone density.

There’s a beauty benefit too: collagen increases the skin’s elasticity, so aging skin looks smoother, younger, with fewer wrinkles.

Does that mean bone broth is the answer to a slew of medical ailments and will prevent our bodies from looking older?

Probably not, but at the very least, broth does help hydrate the body, so it’s perfect when you have a cold, and it does have some proven anti-inflammatory benefits. Mostly it is a flavorsome and soothing comfort on a cold day, when you’re not feeling quite up to par, and even when you are. And while many say that the health benefits of bone broth are overblown, others realize - “it can’t hurt!”

You can buy bone broth, but homemade is always better, mostly because you can season it the way you like. It isn’t difficult to prepare but does take a long time. I prepare my bone broth in the morning and let it simmer all day and overnight so it’s done the next morning.

To make a good bone broth, use beef or veal bones, specifically knuckle and marrow bones, which contain the most collagen. You can include oxtail or short ribs – although these are expensive and not necessary. You can add chicken bones (fresh or leftover) if you wish. Rinse the bones to get rid of surface impurities, then roast them before simmering, a step that isn’t essential but makes for a richer, darker, more flavorful broth.

After roasting, place the bones in a large pot and cover them with water and apple cider vinegar (which helps leech out the collagen from the bones) and let rest for an hour. Then proceed with the broth-making.

I include the usual stock ingredients: carrots, onion, leek, celery, garlic, and parsley. If you wish, you can add shiitake mushrooms, ginger, parsnip, turnip, and so on. Many bone broth recipes call for bay leaves, but I prefer fresh thyme, which I find less bitter. I also add salt and whole peppercorns.

Add more water to cover the vegetables, bring the liquid to a boil and skim any impurities from the surface for the first few minutes, then, turn the heat to low and move on with your life. The longer you cook the broth, the better it will be, but be sure to let it cook for at least 12 hours. (I cook mine for 20-24 hours.) If you don’t wish to keep your cook-top burner on overnight, put the broth in the oven (uncovered), set at 225 degrees.

Strain the broth when it’s done. There’s no flavor left in the veggies and the bones should be bare, so both can be discarded. Let the liquid cool (you can do this more quickly by placing the pot in a tubful of ice), then put it in the fridge until it has chilled and you can scoop the fat from the surface. The once-liquid part is now like savory jello (you can make it into aspic!). Heat it, strain it through cheesecloth, and voila! There’s your bone broth.

You can use bone broth to make stew or soup of course, but it’s such a wonderful comfort just to sip, like coffee or tea. It’s rich, savory, and delicious. How can it not be good for you?

Bone Broth


Ronnie Fein is a cookbook author, food writer and cooking teacher in Stamford. She is the author of The Modern Kosher Kitchen and Hip Kosher. Visit her food blog, Kitchen Vignettes, at www.ronniefein.com, friend on Facebook at RonnieVailFeinTwitter at @RonnieVFein, Instagram at RonnieVFein.

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