Welcome to the first ever Foodie Friday at The Chronic Caterpillar!
Before I dive into this week’s recipe, I’m going to give a brief introduction as to why I felt compelled to dedicate a post each week to food, because this is obviously not a food blog.
First of all, I love food. I love eating. I love cooking. I always have, and I imagine I always will. Cooking is a stress-reliever for me, and let me tell you…some days with this illness, I am really stressed. Oftentimes, if I’ve had a bad day, Hubs will come home to some bizarre new kitchen creation that I dreamt up or found on Pinterest. Thankfully, he’s an adventurous eater!
Since becoming sick, I’ve placed more importance on what I put in my body. Yes, it is hard when I’m running low on spoons to whip up something home cooked and delicious. Yes, it would be easier to just pick something up. But I find that generally, I feel so much better the following day when I make wise decisions about what I eat. Since it is often hard to find fast, affordable food that fits within my diet parameters, that means I usually have to make it myself.
Speaking of diet parameters, so many spoonies do have special dietary requirements. Many of us are gluten-free, dairy-free, grain-free, vegetarian, vegan, or have multiple food allergies (like me). I myself strive to be (and am not always) gluten-free. I shoot for a paleo-esque model of eating, but with the added challenges of working around food allergies. I don’t believe in depriving myself though, so don’t judge if you see me eating a biscuit (Yes a biscuit. Of every food I’ve given up, biscuits and gravy are among the most missed).
That said, I will try to post recipes that can be easily tweaked to fit specific dietary restrictions.
Alright, now on to the good stuff!
Now, I know that broth isn’t necessarily the most exciting thing to cook, and perhaps it would have made more sense to kick off Foodie Fridays with something that has a bit more…pizazz…But bone broth is so good for you! It’s chock full of nutrients and protein and can help repair a damaged gut. It also tastes so much better when you make it yourself with quality ingredients. And it is so simple and cheap to make! So many reasons to love this recipe!
A few quick notes about the ingredients:
Bones and Skin—You have some option here. I usually buy a whole organic chicken, roast and carve it, using the meat for salads or soups, and then use the leftover bones, skin, and cartilage for my stock. If you find a chicken that still has giblets, throw those in too! Extra nutrition! Of course you can always use a rotisserie chicken that’s already been cooked to make the process even easier. I usually save pork chop bones to add to my chicken stock as well for an added depth of flavor. If you’re making beef stock, look for organic, grass-fed beef bones. I like a mix of ox tails and femur bones, but generally, the bones I buy are dictated by what Whole Foods has available. Good news: you can reuse those bad boys! I’ve read that you can cook beef bones as many as 5-6 times and still get a rich, nutritious broth, but the most I’ve ever done is three.
Vegetables—Again, you have a ton of options here. I keep a gallon sized bag labeled “stock veggies” in my freezer and add to it almost daily. It only takes about half the bag to create a delicious broth. Onion peels and tops, carrot peelings, celery that was on its last leg in the refrigerator…sometimes I’ll add the bottom of a bell pepper or tomato top to mix up the flavor. The possibilities are endless! If you get too crazy with it and add something that doesn’t produce the flavor you wanted, use it in a tomato based stew or soup. The tomato generally covers mistakes well.
Let’s get started!
- Bones of your choosing
- Veggies of your choosing (but you can’t go wrong with onion, carrot, and celery)
- 1 TBS Apple Cider Vinegar (to help draw the minerals out of the bones – you won’t taste it in the finished product.)
- 1 Bay Leaf
- 8 Whole Peppercorns
- 4-8 Whole Cloves Garlic (depending on their size and how much you like garlic)
- Pinch of Salt (You can always add salt later, but you can’t take salt back out!)
- Water (You want enough to completely cover everything in your pot, plus another inch or two. If using an Instant Pot, pay attention and do not overfill it!)
- Throw it all in a large pot. If you have an Instant Pot (and I highly recommend that you do), use it! If not, a slow cooker or a large pot on your stove will work perfectly too. The only difference is the cook time.
- Instant Pot: Lock lid in place. Use Manual setting on high pressure for 120 minutes for chicken or 180 for beef. Once the timer goes off, you can wait for the pressure to release naturally, but if you’re impatient like I am, carefully open the valve and allow it to depressurize completely before opening.Slow Cooker: On the low setting, cook 12-24 hours. The longer you let it cook, the more nutrients you get, but truthfully, a 12-hour broth is delicious!Stovetop: Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cover. Simmer 12-24 hours. I never felt comfortable leaving my stove on if I left the house or went to bed, so mine always tended to be much closer to 12 hours.
- To prevent splashing while straining (that stuff is hot and will burn you!), pick out the larger, intact ingredients. I fish them out using a small handheld strainer (okay it’s a flour sifter) and then squeeze all the remaining juice out of them with a spoon before discarding in the trash (or saving the beef bones for another batch).
- Using a fine mesh strainer, strain broth into a separate container. I’ve read that many people use cheesecloth instead of a strainer, but I honestly have not been successful with that method. Maybe I’m doing it wrong?
- Chill broth in the refrigerator overnight.
- Once chilled, there will be a layer of fat on top of the broth. Scrape it off with a slotted spoon and either discard of it, or save it to cook with (bonus points for frugality!).
Store broth in the fridge for up to a week or divvy it up into plastic bags (with a strong seal, unless you like scraping frozen broth out of your freezer…I learned that the hard way) and freeze! I freeze 6-8 cups of broth in a gallon-sized bag for use in soups and stews and 2 cups in a quart (or even sandwich)-sized bag for use in greens or just to drink! Lay the bags of broth flat in the freezer, and once they’re completely frozen you can stand them upright to take up less room! I like to keep extra stock on hand, because I use it in so many of my meals (like the one I’ll post about next week)!
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