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There’s a lot of talk within the various sub-populations of the real food community about bone broth. It’s a great way to get lots of nutrients in a super tasty package. It’s become apparent to me, however, that lots of folks are a bit mystified by the whole thing, and I’ve heard wayyyy too many stories about people ending up with a giant pot of weak, brownish liquid that tastes like… well, bones. This is simply unacceptable, people! So, with this post, I’d like to give you some insight into how I make the stuff.  I want to stress that this is not *THE* way to make it. Rather, it’s one of many ways to make it. So, with no further ado… Double-D (Damion and Diana’s) Bone Broth.

Things you’ll need include:

  • 2 large stock pots (I use one 25 qt, and one 15 qt)
  • 1 or 2 roasting pans
  • some soup bones, preferably with some meat and cartilage on them. Maybe 1-2 lbs?
  • 1 whole raw chicken (or a couplefew leftover carcasses)
  • 1 lb chicken feet (optional, but highly recommended!)
  • fresh parsley
  • 3-5 raw carrots
  • 3-5 celery ribs
  • 1-2 fennel bulbs
  • 5-6 peeled garlic cloves
  • 1 yellow onion
  • fresh herbs (I like to use sage, oregano, marjoram, and thyme) How much? Some. maybe 1/4-1/2 cup each?
  • 1-2 leeks, or 6-7 scallions
  • 2 star anise
  • peppercorns (maybe a generous tablespoon)
  • 1/4-1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • sea salt

Now, bear in mind, we tend to make really large batches of this stuff. If you’d like to make smaller, then just reduce your ingredients accordingly. Keep track of how much you use, so that you can adjust to make your next batch even better.

Meat in the roasting pan

This is a pound or so of soup bones, and another pound of beef shank

The first step is to roast your bones. Preheat your oven to 400°. Place your bones into your roasting pan. I like to lightly oil the roasting pan to make for easier cleaning, and to make it easier to get all the tasty bits off later.

Toss the roasting pan in the oven for about 30 minutes. While it’s roasting, you can start your veggie prep.

Veggies and herbs

No kitchen is complete without a really nice knife.

One of the nice things about broth is that the veggie prep can be very…. imprecise. Peel the carrots, cut off the ends, and set them aside. Wash the celery, cut off the ends, and set them aside. Grab a handful of parsley, rip it off the bunch, rinse it clean, and throw it in the pot. Rinse of the herbs, and throw them in the pot, stalks and all. Toss in the star anise and pepper corns too. Set the garlic cloves aside for now.

A lot of folks have never really worked with a fennel bulb before. No worries! Just trim off the stalks, cut the bulb in half, trim off the root, and set aside.

Prepping the fennel

Prepping the fennel

With the leeks or scallions, just trim off the root ends and the darkest green bits. If you’re using leeks, set them aside. If you’re using scallions, just toss them in the stock pot.

After about 20-30 minutes in the oven, your bones are about halfway done. Take the pan out of the oven and turn the bones over, then toss the garlic, carrots, celery, fennel, and leeks on top. Put the pan back in the oven.

Now we also need to get the chicken roasting. If the chicken is whole, then cut it up. Don’t be pretty about it.. just hack off the wings, legs and thighs, and cut the breasts apart. In another oven safe pan, place the chicken pieces (and feet, if you’re using them), and toss it in the oven for 20-20 minutes.

Roasting chicken parts

Chicken feet might look gruesome, but they make for a really amazing broth!!

The veggies and meat are done when they take on a nice color. The veggies should be just starting to look roasted, and the bones should be darker than golden.

There's no secret here... it's done when it looks done.

There’s no secret here… it’s done when it looks done.

The chicken is done when it starts to take on some color. Remember, the idea here isn’t to thoroughly cook the meat, just to roast some flavor into it.

The chicken should just be taking on some color.

The chicken should just be taking on some color.

Throw the roasted bones, veggies, and chicken into the stock pot. Put enough fresh, cold water in the pot to just cover the ingredients by an inch or two. No more. You can always add more liquid later if you need to. You’ll want to put the apple cider vinegar in at this time also. The vinegar is optional. You shouldn’t be able to taste it, but it helps to raise the acidity of the solution, and that helps to break down the bones.

Put the pot back on the stove over medium-high heat. It’s important that you not let it come to a rolling boil (well, that’s perhaps overstating the case… if the stock comes to a rolling boil, it will break down a lot of the proteins and will result in a much cloudier broth, but that’s about the worst that will happen).  As the broth approaches the boiling point, you’ll start to see some foamy scum forming on the top. While not absolutely necessary, you’ll probably want to skim that off. It’ll require 2-3 skimmings, probably.

Scum is for skimming!

Scum is for skimming!

At this point, you want to get the broth to the point where it’s at a very low simmer, with just the occasional burble. Put a lid on it and let it sit. You’ll want it to simmer like this for at least 24 hours, even up to 36.

Which raises the question? How do you know it’s done? Quite literally, it’s done when you say it’s done. Some things I look for to indicate doneness are a deep, rich brown color, and the soup bones should be disintegrating.

Look for a deep, rich color...

Look for a deep, rich color…

... and for the bones to be deeply pitted and disintegrating. These were ball joints!

… and for the bones to be deeply pitted and disintegrating. These were ball joints!

When you decide that it’s done, it’s time for the work to begin. Fish out all the bulky stuff (I like to use a Chinese frying basket to scoop it out). Then, pour the liquid through a fine strainer to get out the rest of the ‘stuff’. You should be left with a bunch of broth liquid, and a fairly thick layer of fat on top.

Place the stock in the fridge for at least a few hours, or over night, until the fat layer has solidified.

Use a large slotted spoon to skim off most of the fat (if there’s a few little bits left, they will only add flavor).

The more observant of you will notice that we put no salt in the broth yet. Let’s fix that now. Put the broth back on the stove and bring it back up to a boil. Add sea salt a couple of teaspoons at a time until you like the taste of it. Now, it’s done!

Portion as you see fit. In the freezer, this will keep… well, almost indefinitely. In the fridge, it’s probably good for a week or so. I like to freeze it in 16 oz containers, then thaw one and drink it out of a mug for breakfast. Or use in your cooking, or ??? It’s a seriously useful thing to keep around, and once you get used to using it, you’ll feel spoiled without it!

Fishing out the bulky stuff

Fishing out the bulky stuff

Strained broth

Strained broth

Skimming the chilled broth. Sadly, this fat isn't good for much of anything, so I just toss it.

Skimming the chilled broth. Sadly, this fat isn’t good for much of anything, so I just toss it.

How do you make bone broth? Or if you haven’t made it before and you tried my method, how did it work for you? Leave a comment and let me know your thoughts on the matter.