“Going Paleo” is not something I think we’ll incorporate into our family protocol anytime soon. Nor is being a vegetarian. Both of these lifestyle choices could easily take several blog posts all on their own and yet as if they were politics, I may stay away from them in their entirety….we’ll see.
However, both of these relatively drastic dietary choices have merits, and for the topic of this blog I want to talk about bones. Bones…as in using the complete carcass in the case of poultry. The nutrient dense stock you get from them when properly preparing at home makes it not even a comparable product to anything you buy in the store. If you look at the ingredient list in anything store bought there is no indication of bones or how the stock is made. The bones are the key, and usually the difference in terminology. Chicken broth is usually made when cooking the meat with some vegetables and seasonings. Chicken stock is what we’re talking about here….made with the bones.
When cooked at the lowest simmer possible, for the longest amount of time….as much as 24 hours or so, the minerals that leech from the bones are second to none. When I drink it, I seriously feel nourished deep down….it’s hard to describe.
Here are some of the reasons why:
- The gelatin, a colloidal substance in bone stock assists digestion; in fact it is known to treat digestive disorders such as IBS, colitis and even Chrohn’s disease.
- Bone stock contains minerals such as calcium, silicon, sulphur, magnesium, phosphorous & trace minerals in an easily digestible form. Calcium for one, is the most abundant mineral in bone and also the most abundant mineral in the body.
- Gelatin is used to tonify the blood, with glycine, a key ingredient playing a vital role. Chinese studies have shown gelatin to increase red blood cell and hemoglobin count, increase serum calcium level, and increase the absorption and utilization of calcium.
- Gelatin assists in neutralizing whatever intestinal poison is causing problems during an intestinal bug or flu.
- Most stock recipes stress the quality that can be obtained from using highly cartilaginous parts of animals including joint areas, like chicken feet and beef knuckles, trachea and ribs.
- Stock is a liver tonic (liver supportive) because it helps the body to detoxify during a cleanse, and in fact at any time it is eaten.
- Stock also contains, Chondroitin Sulfate, a jellylike substance, now famous as a supplement for joint pain associated with osteoarthritis. It functions to support and provide adhesiveness. It lines blood vessels and plays a role in lowering atherosclerosis, cholesterol and heart attacks.
My own chicken broth process is adapted from numerous sources, and it works for us. I usually make it with two whole chickens at a time, but only one this round, as shown. I generally slowly roast the chicken, as it is simpler to use the meat in my opinion. Should you choose to start with raw whole chickens right into the water, you have to remove the bird after about 2 hours. Then you remove the meat and return everything else to the liquid to continue on. Leaving chicken meat simmering for 12 or more hours makes it tough at first, and then mushy, like a tofu gone bad!
- I usually start in the morning after breakfast. Remove innards, do not discard. Place whole bird(s) into casserole/baking dish with innards, covered with foil or baking lid in oven at about 210 degrees for about 10 hours.
- Time the start time for dinner, and about 15 minutes before dinner time flip bird over carefully. Remove foil and broil to lightly brown the top skin. Enjoy the pulled meat for dinner. Crispy skin is a killer appetizer to sneak before pulling the meat off the carcass!
- As you pull the meat, return the juices and bones to a crock pot on low setting. I always try to break as many of the bones as possible to allow all the marrow to be fully released. For one chicken, I add about 4 c of water. Double that for two whole chickens.
- Add a few TBS of Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar. This acid helps to pull more minerals out of the bones. COVER, and then simmer on the lowest setting. My crock pot lowest setting is not as low as I would like, and I’ve read that the best simmer is when the bubbles are steady, but just barely breaking the surface. My crock pot is slightly more than that but I am not worried about this slight difference.
- I run the crock pot for about 12 hours, and then put in chunks of 3-4 carrots, celery and an onion or two. It is perfectly fine to stop after a few hours when the veggies are soft, or let it go another 12 more hours. The longer the better. Just be sure to add water as needed to keep the total liquid level about the same as when you started.
- Turn off crock pot. You can let it cool for an hour or so to make straining it easier if you would like. I strain it at least twice, sometimes three times. I use a large holed (metal) pasta strainer first to remove the bones. Since I hate wasting a single drop, I usually let the bones drip for awhile before straining it again. Discard the bones (and the now mushy veggies) at this time. Strain a second time using a finer, metal screen type strainer.
- Chill. This is one area that is important for good food safety, as you need to properly chill within a short amount of time (well under 4 hours is best). Putting a huge bowl in the fridge will take much too much time, and clearly not a good idea. Once the stock is at a cool enough temperature to handle, break down your batch into quality zip lock bags or mason jars and freeze or chill in small batches. You could even put a few ice cubes into each batch to help it cool faster.
- Consume. Add a little salt and sip like you would a good cup of tea. Make soup. Flavor simmered veggies with stock. Always have some in the freezer for when the cold or flu season hits. It is unbeatable.
If it is total liquid and not wiggly like jello, it either may not have cooked long enough, you added too much water or it could have even been a poor quality CAFO chicken. You want your finished, chilled product to have that jello-like wiggle, and even a nice layer of fat on top – don’t discard that! Be sure to mix it in as you take your portion each time.
While I clearly favor chicken stock over the others I’ve made, broth can be made from turkey, beef, buffalo and even fish/shellfish. The red meat batches generally add an extra step of braising bones in the oven first, but I’m just not a fan of the taste of this broth, although the end result is clearly still just as beneficial. Once you get the process down, I think you will never go without some in your freezer.
“The doctor of the future will no longer treat the human frame with drugs, but rather will cure and prevent disease with nutrition.” ~Thomas Edison