By Danielle French

Bones & Broth

Lately there has been a lot of commotion about broth—how good it is for you, how broth bars are popping up all over New York City charging $8 for a small paper cupful. It’s actually crazy how all the basic things in life are now coming back as new and trendy, and a constant reminder of how far removed from food and farm we often stray. I understand that in a world of speed, working, driving our children, being all things to all people in our families, that sometimes it is impossible to cook from scratch, to be healthy. Certainly I have very often taken all the shortcuts—picking up takeout (although I do want to say that living here on the farm, this is not as easy as it used to be), a frozen ready-to-eat meal. We all do it and it’s fine. But on average I cook every day, not because I always want to but because at least right now, it’s less expensive, healthier and just more delicious. I can talk myself out of the quick fix because I know how I’ll feel later: that I could have eaten better at home.

Like everyone these cold winter days, I like to have soups on the menu regularly. A homemade broth is difficult to replace, but it often is—by me especially. If you plan ahead, though, it is easy to have broth on hand, frozen in portion containers. I recently made a standing rib roast and followed James Beard’s recipe for zinfandel gravy. Honestly, it was more than just delicious, and the gravy was wonderfully flavourful, not because of the wine but because of the broth. Rich and satisfying homemade broth.

I’m thinking (not very seriously) of having my own broth bar out here on the farm, serving it alongside a carrot ginger tequila fizz or a lovage gin and tonic. We could call it a Midwinter Pick-Me-Up or Bare Bones Mudslide. I could include a cooking class such as The Best of Broth: The Bare Bones Of It. Once you venture down the path of making your own, you will realize what you are missing and if you are like me, you will remember why you used to do it regularly.

Let’s call it “brothing”—a new verb. It’s a new way of life in the old fashioned style…

Beef Bone Broth

Here is a version that is relatively quick. The main requirement of making any broth is simply the time it takes for things to boil down. If you are having an “at home” day anyway, then the timing is perfect.

4-6 beef bones (I ask the butcher for a bag of what they have on hand; but the best are marrow bones – the marrow being the most nutritious The marrow is the part that is in the centre of the bone and has a pink, fatty, jello like consistency. It is high in vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids helping the immune system)

You will need:
4-6 beef bones
2 celery stalks
2 carrots
2 onions

Chop your vegetables into large chunks.

Preheat your oven to 450°

Preheat the oven to 450°. Put the bones together on a baking sheet with two each: celery stalks, carrots and onions, chopped in large chunks. The fat from the meat will be enough to cook the vegetables – but keep an eye on that at first to make sure the vegetables don’t burn.

Roast for about 30 minutes to an hour or until everything is brown, watching the vegetables so that they do not burn. Remove the bones and vegetables and place in a large stock pot and fill with water to cover about 2 inches above the ingredients.

Remove the fat from the baking pan and place it over heat. Pour in 2 cups of water. Bring the water to a boil, scrape the pieces up and add everything to the stock pot, discarding any badly burnt parts.

Add about 6 peppercorns, 3 cloves and a bunch of parsley, stems and all, to the pot and bring everything to a slow boil. Simmer, uncovered, very slowly for about 4 hours. Every once in a while, skim the white parts off the top and discard. Keep an eye on the pot to make sure the simmer is slow and gentle.

After the 4-hour mark, pour the broth through a strainer into another container. Press the vegetables into the strainer to make sure you get all the flavor into the broth. Discard the bones and vegetables.

Let the broth cool, then refrigerate. The next day, take off the layer of fat that will have hardened on top. Your broth is ready for whatever you wish to do with it to enjoy the pure, unsalted flavor: freeze it, use it in soup, stew or sauce, or drink it like the New Yorkers do!

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