12.17.14 Down to the Bone (and a Caramels Giveaway)

Stock 790 xxx
photos by gluttonforlife
I fell down a deep well last week. G was away for a few days, it was bitter cold and night seemed to descend before each day had barely begun. A weighty cloak of despair settled over me as I sank into the couch in front of the dying embers of the fire. I questioned my purpose. I listened to the sneering voices that crowded my mind. I grew listless and small. I sent a text to my husband: I feel frightened and disconnected. And then I realized I had not left the confines of our tiny cottage in four days! I forced myself outside, spent nearly an hour chipping away with a shovel at the ice on our front stoop and then made it to yoga for the first time in a week. When I got home, I was a new woman. Light and movement had managed to penetrate that bleak darkness. Dear reader, I was SAD—as in suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder. It was no joke, but I am better now and committed to going outside every day, no matter what the weather has up its wicked sleeve. 

I'm also done with nuts, chocolate and sugar for the season. Enough! Those things are particularly bad for my constitution. They bring me down. Instead, I have stocked the fridge with pomegranates and sweet-tart clementines, a gorgeous block of Stilton and some fresh chestnuts. And, as always, nourishing bone broths. Don't you love it when something that has been around for millennia—fasting! kale!—suddenly becomes a trend? So it is with bone broths, which are on everyone's lists for "what's hot in 2015." 

Before we go any further, let’s consider how stock differs from broth, often merely a question of semantics. A general consensus seems to be that stock is a relatively clear, unsalted liquid made by slowly simmering bones and sometimes vegetables, which is then used as the basis for sauces and soups. Broth is a simple soup in itself, more highly seasoned than stock and perhaps containing bits of meat. In most recipes the two can be interchanged, though stock is more neutral, with its salinity, strength and seasoning dependent on how it will be used.

Bones1 790 xxx
bone deep
Marco Canora, the chef at Hearth in New York City's East Village, recently opened Brodo, a little takeout window at his restuarant from which he's dispensing steaming cups of what he calls "the world's first comfort food"—rich broth made from the bones of free-range chicken and turkey, as well as grass-fed beef. In an inspired twist, he's offering "add-ins," including ginger juice, calabrian chili oil, shiitake mushroom tea, freshly grated turmeric, fermented beet juice and organic garlic. Now that juicing has reached its zenith, and chains have popped up all over the city, it's a brilliant way to offer the next big thing to the many now turned on to the pervasive benefits of good nutrition—from clear skin to increased energy.

If you want to make stocks with bones, you may find the main ingredient to be a tad elusive. Soup bones have become a rare commodity, as hard to find in supermarkets—where boneless cuts of meat lie neatly shrink-wrapped to their Styrofoam trays—as they are in artisanal butcher shops, where bones are now hoarded for house-made stocks and charcuterie. I recommend forming a relationship with your local butcher, or coming upstate to buy pastured animals from the farms where they're raised. Those who have the freezer space to buy a whole cow or lamb (or share one among friends) will have ready access to the knuckles, shanks and even hooves that make the best stock. Alternatively, oxtails and short ribs are among the more readily available cuts good for broth, and combining a few meaty pieces of chuck with some marrow bones is also a fine option. For chicken broth, a whole bird works well, especially if you can find one complete with its head and feet. The more bony pieces added—like extra wing tips and necks—the higher the gelatin content, the richer and silkier the broth.
Bones2 790 xxx
roast aroma
What's so great about bone broths? For an in-depth look, I recommend you check out Sally Fallon's seminal Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats. In it, she underscores the importance of bone broths for their mineral content—especially calcium, magnesium and potassium—and vital collagen, a wonderful digestive aid and rich source of amino acids. When simmered, collagen forms the gelatin that gives the best stock its unctuous quality. It is most concentrated in cartilaginous knucklebones and bony bits and bobs like chicken feet, wings, backs and necks. 

Broth made from the bones of pastured animals...

• Is rich in nutrients that can be ore readily absorbed by the body.

• Contains glucosamine and chondroitin that stimulate the growth of new collagen, repair joints, ease arthritis, and reduce pain and inflammation.

• Supports bone formation and fight osteoporosis. The calcium, magnesium, collagen and phosphorus in bone broth stremgthen and repair bones.

• Heals the gut. The gelatin protects and heals the lining of the digestive tract and aids in the digestion of nutrients.

• Supports skin, hair and nail growth, thanks to the strengthening collagen and gelatin.

• Promotes sleep and soothes the mind. Broth contains glycine, an amino acid that is very calming.

• Helps fight infections such as colds and flu.
Fat 790 xxx
skimming the surface

Bone broths can simmer almost indefinitely. In the old days there was always a pot of “perpetual broth” bubbling away on the stove, periodically replenished with new bones and more water. This begs the question of skimming, which is recommended for a clear stock but can seem like a hassle to harried home cooks. The good news is that the foamy grey scum that rises to the surface, while visually challenging, is essentially flavorless. It’s comprised mostly of denatured protein that eventually breaks up into tiny particles and disperses throughout the stock, causing it to become cloudy. This happens quickly if stock boils, which is why a very gentle simmer is always preferable. You can simply leave any foam on top to create a film that attracts fat and debris, and can be scooped off further along in the process. This is actually a cleverly improvised variation on the egg-white raft that is the classic technique used for clarifying stocks.

In order to render out all their collagen, beef bones should cook for at least 8-10 hours, or up to 24; poultry can take less time, though Fallon still recommends much longer than the 3-4 hours suggested in many cookbooks. A heat diffuser comes in handy to moderate the flame on a gas stove burner since surprisingly little heat is required to maintain a lazy simmer that bubbles only about once per second. For reductions—concentrated stock and syrupy demi-glâce—increase the heat and let the liquid bubble vigorously. Skim occasionally if possible, and watch the stock turn dark, thick and, eventually, quite syrupy. Reductions can be reconstituted as stock simply by adding water, but in their condensed form they take up very little space.

Fat2 790 xxx
Once your stock is done simmering, cool it, then strain out all the solids. Refrigerate what remains overnight and a layer of fat will congeal on the top. I like to save this and use it in cooking. Chunks of pumpkin are wonderful roasted in beef fat.
Jellied 790 xxx
jelly, jelly, jelly
The result of making stock with collagen-rich bones is this jelly-like consistency. It immediately liquefies when exposed to heat.
Feet 790 xxx
foot soldiers


• Rinse meat and bones well before making stock.

• Always start with cold water, which breaks down proteins and maintains clarity.

• Add something acid (vinegar, wine, tomato) to help break down cartilage.

• Roast or brown bones or vegetables first to add depth of flavor and color.

• Keep separate freezer bags for bones, shells and vegetable scraps to gradually accumulate enough for making stock.

• Freeze stock flat in Ziploc bags.

• Pour reductions into ice cube trays; when frozen, pop out and store in freezer bags.

• Use a shallow pot or skillet to reduce stock more quickly.

• To remove fat, chill stock completely and skim off hardened layer.

Cubes 790 xxx
totally gelatinous

In addition to making broths to sip on their own, stocks are essential for truly nuanced and flavorful cooking. Rarely the star of a dish, stocks are the workhorse character actors without whom the show simply can’t go on. The foundation for soups and sauces, stocks can be used almost anywhere in place of other liquids with excellent results. Try them in rice or polenta, to deglaze a roasting pan or to thin a Bolognese. A lamb stew made with lamb stock heightens the intensity of flavor in a way that water and wine alone cannot. Roasting bones and vegetables prior to simmering creates an even richer depth that works well in earthier dishes, but you can also create more ethereal stocks for lighter fare. Next summer, when you’re making corn chowder, use stock simmered from the scraped cobs and swoon over the incredible sweetness. Save your shrimp shells in the freezer until you’ve accumulated enough to make a surprisingly intense stock, ideally deployed in a hearty bisque spiked with sherry and cayenne. 

Much of this information was once acquired as though by osmosis in family kitchens where bubbling pots and rising dough were tended day in and day out. It’s worth keeping alive, if only for pure, greedy pleasure. Reconnect to the tradition of making your own bone broths and stocks and you’ll never look back—except when the mouth-watering aromas wafting from your kitchen conjure up blissful memories of your grandmother’s borscht, your uncle’s pozole, your mama’s Bolognese…



Chicken Stock

makes 3-4 quarts
adapted from Nourishing Traditions

Note: This recipe calls for no salt. It's generally best to salt it once you know how it's going to be used. If you salt it and then reduce it for a demi-glâce or a sauce, you may find it way too salty.
  • — 1 whole free-range chicken, or 2-3 pounds bony chicken parts, including necks, backs, wings and feet
  • gizzards from 1 chicken, optional
  • — 4 quarts cold filtered water
  • — 2 tablespoons vinegar
  • — 1 large onion, skin on and coarsely chopped
  • — 3 celery ribs, coarsely chopped
  • — 1-2 leeks, white and light green part only, cleaned and coarsely chopped
  • — 2 carrots, coarsely chopped
  • — 1 bunch parsley

If you are using a whole chicken, cut off the wings and remove any gizzards and/or the neck from the cavity (these can all be used for the stock). Free-range chickens will produce much better results than a factory-farmed bird.

Cut chicken parts into several smaller pieces. Put chicken or pieces into a large stainless steel pot with the water, vinegar and vegetables (except the parsley). Let stand for 30 minutes-1 hour.

Bring to a boil, and remove all scum that rises to the top. Then reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 6-24 hours. The longer you cook the stock, the richer and more flavorful it will be.

About 10 minutes before finishing the stock, stir in the parsley. This imparts additional mineral ions to the stock. Turn the heat off, and allow to cool before removing chicken pieces with a slotted spoon. (Feed it to the cat!)

Strain the stock through a fine mesh into a large bowl, pot or jar and refrigerate, covered, until any fat rises to the top and congeals. (I usually leave it overnight.) Skim off this fat and reserve the stock in covered containers in your fridge or freezer. It will keep in your fridge for 3-4 days; if you want to keep it there longer, you need to boil it again. Otherwise, you can clarify the stock and it will keep refrigerated for quite a bit longer.

Download recipe  Download Recipe

Beef Stock

from Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon
makes about 8 cups
  • — 4 pounds pastured beef marrow bones, knuckle bones
  • — 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • — 1 large onion, skin on, quartered
  • — 2 carrots, sliced
  • — 1 leek, white & pale green only, cleaned and sliced
  • — 2 celery stalks, sliced
  • — 3 pounds meaty rib or neck bones
  • — 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • — 5 cloves garlic
  • — 2 bay leaves
  • — 3 sprigs thyme
  • — 1/2 teaspoon green peppercorns, crushed
  • — 1 bunch Italian parsley

Place the knuckle and marrow bones in a very large pot with vinegar and cover with water. Let stand for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, place the meaty bones in a roasting pan and brown at 350º in the oven. When well browned, add to the pot along with the vegetables. Pour the fat out of the roasting pan, add cold water to the pan, set over a high flame and bring to a boil, stirring with a wooden spoon to loosen coagulated juices. Add this liquid to the pot. Add additional water if necessary, to cover the bones; but the liquid should come no higher than within one inch of the rim of the pot, as the volume expands slightly during cooking. Bring to a boil. Skim scum as it rises to the surface. When scum no longer rises to the surface, reduce heat and add the thyme and crushed peppercorns.

Cook stock at a very lazy simmer for at least 12 and as long as 72 hours. Just before finishing, add the parsley and simmer another 10 minutes.

You will now have a pot of rather repulsive-looking brown liquid containing globs of gelatinous and fatty material. Don't despair! After straining, you will have a delicious and nourishing clear broth.

Remove bones with tongs or slotted spoon. Strain the stock into a large bowl. Let cool, then refrigerate and remove the congealed fat that rises to the top. Transfer stock to smaller containers and refrigerate, or freeze for long-term storage.

Download recipe  Download Recipe


I love your site! Always can't wait for a new post. I've been meaning to check out Brodo myself since it's so close to my restaurant. Happy Holidays!
Hannah on December 17, 2014 at 2:19 pm —
Thanks, Hannah! Isn't Mimi Cheng's right around the corner from Hearth? I'll have to do a double drive-by soon…xo
laura on December 17, 2014 at 2:33 pm —
Yes, it is! Please stop by soon.
Hannah on December 26, 2014 at 7:30 am —
For all the chicken and turkey stock I have made in my life, I have never made beef....I am on a mission to get my hands on some bones!
diane on December 17, 2014 at 3:14 pm —
Thank you for a good read and the much awaited recipe. My mom had been begging me to make the bone broth but I told her not until I get it the recipe from Laura :) this weekends mission to finally make some bone broth. I am glad you got through SAD. Hopefully the bone broth will get me out of mine.
choekyi on December 17, 2014 at 3:26 pm —
This one's for you, Choekyi! Let me know how it turns out. xo
laura on December 17, 2014 at 3:39 pm —
Thanks for the delicious post! It's always a comforting day to have a large pot on the stove. One of my favorite additions to chicken stock is parmesan rinds, they add a fabulous depth of flavour and perfect for risotto. Hope the season offers glimmers of brightness, warmth and laughter. Best wishes from the West Coast of Canada!
Christine on December 17, 2014 at 4:23 pm —
I often do that when making soup, Christine - such a great trick!
laura on December 17, 2014 at 5:16 pm —
Matthew on December 17, 2014 at 5:06 pm —
I just read somewhere else that chicken feet are the key to great broth. Read it twice, and it must be true! Can't wait to snag some from the Asian market to give this a try. Thanks!
Heather on December 17, 2014 at 5:11 pm —
Heather, if at all possible, try to you use feet from organic/humanely raised/pastured chickens.
laura on December 17, 2014 at 5:15 pm —
Thanks for the bonus tip, Laura!
Heather on December 18, 2014 at 6:22 pm —
So glad you are Ok. As a vegetarian I make a broth with the same ingredients as you say but add parmigiana rinds, barley, heaps of stinging nettle and puha instead of bones. Roast the vegetables etc. Very nice. Is doesn't gel tho. In Australia there is a new place called BROTHL. May be worth a look if you are snowed in. Seasons greetings and life is great here in Perth WA.
Janet on December 17, 2014 at 5:51 pm —
Sounds great, Janet. (I had to look up puha!) You should consider adding some kombu (kelp) to your vegetable broth towards the end. Love the name Brothl - so clever!
laura on December 17, 2014 at 5:59 pm —
Well, I am not a cook but I am a photographer, and your broth and bone images are beautiful in this post, Laura.
judy on December 17, 2014 at 5:51 pm —
Thank you for sharing your feelings of SAD with us. I've been feeling the same way but hadn't been able to put my finger on why nor have I figured out what to do. Light and movement shall be my prescription!
Miko on December 17, 2014 at 7:14 pm —
Yes, get out there!!
laura on December 18, 2014 at 6:18 am —
So glad you've beaten your SAD with a vengeance! I have a secret that I will share with only you and your readers; I've been a 'fishatarian' since 1985 but my wonderful new acupuncturist implored me to start including bone broth in my diet due to ongoing health issues. I don't usually need telling twice when it comes to alternative solutions and lucky for me there is a palio food cart in my neighborhood that makes fresh bone broth and sells it by the quart, (since I wasn't about to start lugging animal bones into my meat free kitchen, cat food not included). Jeff still has no idea I'm imbibing meat though. Anyway, I'm on my third week of adding bone broth to my diet (usually 4 times a week) and I can already feel the difference! I add lots of ginger, garlic, lemon, sharp paprika and a little fish sauce as well as a tablespoon of miso to give it more of a flavor I can enjoy. It makes a great mid afternoon snack. I seem to recall that you mentioned bone broth a few years ago so you were way ahead to the trend as usual! You can skip my name for caramels since you so graciously shared that recipe years ago and it has now become part of our family tradition too. :)
Suzinn on December 17, 2014 at 8:03 pm —
How lucky you have a good local source! You can also make a wonderful, nourishing broth with fish bones, in case you want to try at home.
laura on December 17, 2014 at 8:25 pm —
My father was a butcher, he always boiled bones for stock to sell in his shop. Both of my grandmothers did too, great soups and sauces were always on our northern Michigan table. Wonderful smell memories! Thanks for the memory jog!
Aames on December 17, 2014 at 8:33 pm —
Wonderful article! I'm an acupuncturist and herbalist and much like Suzinn's acupuncturist, I recommend broth to patients. Now I will recommend them to your site.
angelica on December 17, 2014 at 8:47 pm —
Welcome, Angelica, and thanks!
laura on December 18, 2014 at 6:18 am —
Beautiful closeup shots!
thefolia on December 17, 2014 at 10:11 pm —
OK I can only offer support on the night where you are SAD from anything. you can call me, text me, if I'm upstate we can hang together and sip a cocktail with as many lights on as possible inside and out so that it doesn't feel like it is dark, or we could cook together, just not from today's post - since that crosses the line for me....but so many options and then we can share the stories about why "Working Girl" changed my life...I'm here for you whether I'm in NYC or upstate...I'd love to have you to myself...and you could bring caramels...
Robert on December 17, 2014 at 11:32 pm —
Aww, such a sweet, selfless offer! ;-)
laura on December 18, 2014 at 6:18 am —
Well, you certainly came out of your SAD state re-energized; this is quite a post! I'm in Spain right now, with only an "vitroceramica" which costs a fortune to run. Keeping broth going for 24 hours or even half that time, so that it give us all its max nutritional value is unthinkable. Any thoughts? As you know, chicken feet are easy to find as are all sorts of beef, serrano and even fish parts to turn into broth.
Antonia on December 18, 2014 at 1:24 pm —
Fish stock takes much, much less time - try that!
laura on December 18, 2014 at 8:50 pm —
Laura--there's been a lively discussion about bone broth on the food community online chat-site here in DC. I plan to post a link to this post, because it is the most comprehensive and concise description of the issue plus recipes that I've seen. Winter is stock making time for me--when I can put my stock pots outside to cool. Since the late seventies, when I first got serious about cooking, every year I make veal and beef demi-glace, and spoon it into ziplock snack bags for use making pan reduction sauces. I always have chicken stock in my freezer for soups, stews, and sauces. At the moment, I have in my freezer: veal stock, duck stock, chicken stock, corn cob stock, shrimp stock. I haven't gotten into the swing of sipping broth instead of other beverages, but I have a new batch of just-made, rich chicken broth that might just fit the bill. As to the health benefits...I have an open mind. After all, even if it doesn't help, it couldn't hurt ;-)
zora on December 18, 2014 at 4:50 pm —
Thanks, Zora! I find that pan sauces are not really part of my repertoire, so I mostly freeze stock in quart bags, and also as large cubes. In the winter, I love to start the day with a cup of broth. Try it!
laura on December 18, 2014 at 8:49 pm —
Never before have I craved broth. Thanks for the mouth-watering post! I'm on a mission to make the beef stock before the end of the year.
Sy Pie on December 18, 2014 at 8:54 pm —
Bone Broth
Marlene Orszulak on December 19, 2014 at 1:25 am —
Inspiring post, thanks! I'll be digging the bones out of my freezer shortly.
abigail on December 20, 2014 at 11:00 am —
Heading to Brodo pronto and making soup this week! Thank you as always for all your inspiration. x A
Alex Bates on December 20, 2014 at 5:13 pm —
Laura I love bone broths almost as much as I love caramels ..... blessed solstice to you!!
Karen O on December 20, 2014 at 7:40 pm —
WOW. I've missed reading you. It's been a crazed three months, and now that I'm back in Brooklyn, it's the Winter Solstice and one of my pleasures today will be catching up on your good word. Thank you. More than you know. xo
Pritha on December 21, 2014 at 12:56 pm —
Welcome home, Pritha! In so many ways.
laura on December 21, 2014 at 1:12 pm —
This entry is so inspiring! My family and I bought 1/2 a cow this fall to load our freezer and we've been making bone broth with marrow bones. Whenever we roast a chicken, the carcass goes right into the crock pot to make stock. Do you have a preference for making stock on the stove top with a heat diffuser instead of a crock pot? Thank you! For those living close to Southern NH, Farwell Farm in Harrisville, NH sells 1/2 and 1/4 cows that are pasture raised, no grain, and delicious. They also sell pork, chicken, eggs, and beef right from the farm .
Hannah Jacobson-Hardy on December 27, 2014 at 11:50 am —
Great info!
laura on December 27, 2014 at 2:22 pm —
Thank you for this, Laura. Beautifully presented in every way. I have read and forwarded to my broth making chef friends and family!
Edith on January 7, 2015 at 12:46 pm —