Grief and nutrition are intertwined, we need to eat, we don’t want to eat, nothing is appealing – or, all the wrong things are appealing. You know that you should shop and cook, but you arrive at the grocery store and everything looks foreign, or there are too many memories. Cooking can be the same way, I would open the refrigerator and stare, open the cabinets and stare, be hungry, but clueless what to do next. Grief and stress take so much energy, the body needs nutrient dense foods that are easily digested and absorbed, that soothe the knotted gut, and tend to the soul also. Beef bone broth has been that soul food for me. Easily sipped, warming, soothing, and it makes the very best soup. Many people have asked how I make my bone broth, and the blog is the easiest way to share my method. Please, this is not the only way to make bone broth, might not even be the “right” way, it is the process that has evolved for me. Perhaps you will find this a starting place and discover your own methods, your own tricks and special touches, that is really what it is all about, making it your own.
Start with good bones, marrow, knuckle, shin, ox tail, a combination of all of them. No worries if you can’t get ox tail, but do try to treat yourself to some shin bone. I use grass fed beef bones, they cook cleaner, I have no foam when simmering the bones. I always roast the bones first, this is not a step to skip. Roasting the bones gives you great color, flavor, and aromas. I roast onions and carrots with the bones, organic onions are the best, I throw the skins in for more caramel color. I often give the entire lot a rub down with tomato paste, it will caramelize in the oven and add to the color and flavor. Good sprinkle of kosher or sea salt, I do not use iodized table salt in my cooking or baking.
Your house will start to smell wonderful and this is what they will look like after an hour.
There was no way all those bones were fitting in one pot, so I did two pots of broth. Fill a crock-pot or two and let them cook all night. Fill one crock-pot, one soup pot on the stove and keep an eye on both. Or let two pots merrily bubble away on the stove all day. Cook them for at least 12 hours, overnight is tremendous. Fill your cooking vessel of choice with the roasted bones and veg and then with filtered water of your choice. The water you use is important, water is 99% of your product, if you would not drink the water, don’t use it for your broth.
The most important step in bone broth is the straining of your broth after it has simmered. You aren’t going to use the veg that you have roasted and simmered, they have had all the goodness beat out of them. I usually fish the veg out first and place them in a large colander over an even larger work bowl, squish all the good broth out of your onions. Don’t squish the carrot. Clean your colander of the onions and start scooping out the large bones. The marrow and shin bones I place on a platter so that I can rescue the marrow and pick the meat off the shin bones. I will show you what I mean in pictures.
Once you have all the large chunks out of your broth and your colander cleaned, pour the contents of your stock pot into the colander that you have nested in a large work bowl that can take heat, I use stainless steel bowls. You are going to see why this step is so important, there are all sorts of little bits left in the bottom of your pot, you don’t want those in your broth. You are working with piping hot broth, so use care.
I adjust my seasonings once the broth is completely strained but still hot. Use a spoon to clear a bit of the fat away and taste the broth. Add kosher or sea salt to taste, the heat from the broth will help dissolve the salt. I sometimes add a tablespoon or so of organic Better Than Bouillon beef base, sometimes I don’t.
Your broth is too hot to be placed in the refrigerator or containers for freezing, this is where the cold weather comes in handy. I put my pots right outside on the porch. I cover the lids with foil for extra protection and let nature chill my broth. If the temperature outside is too moderate, create an ice bath in your kitchen sink to quickly cool the broth. Once cooled you can divide the broth up in containers and tuck the marrow and meat in those containers. You can leave some in your refrigerator for sipping, it is very good for breakfast, or make wonderful vegetable soup. Bone broth freezes beautifully and it is nice to be able to pull a container for a nourishing meal.
Cooking for me has been a way to reinvest in our lives, a healthy channeling of energy and love. I cry when I cook, I think of Justin and picture him walking into the kitchen and telling me how amazing the kitchen smells. I miss Ryan, I wish he was close enough so that I could feed him. I think of Doug working hard as Bob Cratchit for Marley, and all of a sudden the dishes are nothing. The trail of mess, and trust me, Doug does not call me “Mrs. Make A Mess” without just reason, but the trail of mess is a trail of love. Soup made with bone broth has become a favorite meal for the brew crew, the aromas of grains steeping mixed with soup simmering, crusty bread, all signs of life and love.
I hope the above is helpful for those who want to make their own bone broth, just jump in, it will be better than anything you have ever tasted, your house will smell wonderful, and you will feel a certain contentment that comes from being creative in the kitchen and nourishing those who sit at your table. They are priceless you know, those faces around your table, nothing else truly matters in this world except those we are given to love and care for, their time with us can be so fleeting.
May your kitchen be filled with all good things,