I make bone broth just about every time we roast, grill or smoke meat with bones. Because, frankly it is pretty easy…and it helps use up miscellaneous carrots, celery, onions and so on. Plus, it is a perfect simmer for after dinner and before bedtime. I’ve been a fan of making my dollar and ingredients go that extra mile for years…but recently I’ve become a bit obsessed with the health benefits and uses of different bone broths. See the end of this article for links to some of what I read that got me intrigued.
This particular post is in regards to “Perpetual” Bone Broth, and in this case made with chicken bones. That, my dears, means three to seven days in the slow cooker. Reason being? The bones actually fall apart and the nutrients go barreling into the broth, easily digested, nutrients easily absorbed into your system. Oh, and I should add that you can grab a mug of it each day while you’re making it, simply replacing the broth with more water, and if you please, more veggies and spices. It is my dream canvas of the kitchen. Or something like that anyway. You see, I’ve been under the weather with this virus everyone seems to have, and the DayQuil gives me a very vivid imagination.
Home Is In the Pot
Now, let me mention the bliss of having days and nights of broth simmering away in your home. HOME! Not house, not apartment, but HOME. Because this, frankly, is the smell of home (disclaimer: I grew up in Colorado so I’ve got a perspective, I’ll admit). Thyme. Sage. Onion. Garlic. Rosemary. Peppercorns. Please note the vegetarian-friendliness of this whole concept (no marrow benefits, but so what? Skip the chicken and go with root veggies). Celery. Carrots. Mom’s chicken soup!
With this “perpetual” cooking, I wake up thinking calm thoughts in the Winter. I used to simmer for three hours or so after dinner, and then wrap it up for the night. Perpetual broth gives you days of this little comfort zone. And, if you know me, you know I’m a fragrance person. Waking up to this aroma changes my brain chemistry (I am not a scientist so don’t go getting out your test tubes and droppers). It sets my mood to “yes”. Oh…and I read in one of those links at the bottom of this post, that it only costs about $3-5 to run a crock pot for 7 days. So no, this isn’t a horrible assault on the environment, for those wondering.
I’ve made a few batches of perpetual bone broth since my fascination/obsession began. The first, a small un-roasted chicken. The second, the remnants of a rotisserie chicken (after pulling the white meat for soup). And the third, a smoked chicken carcass. Smoked at home over several hours with mesquite and cherry wood. You might guess, and correctly, that the chickens that were roasted or smoked yielded a more immediate flavor. However, I wouldn’t say better. Each presented with benefits for different uses. The unroasted bones had a simple flavor that gave way to the herbs I added. The rotisserie bones make a perfect base flavor for just about anything. I used it in place of water making couscous. I made Matzo Ball soup with it. The smoked chicken imparts the smokiness right into the broth, which I find to be an excellent start for Green Chili, Enchilada sauce, or anything that benefits from a bit of smoke flavor.
I’ve read a whole heap about different recipes and processes, some based on restoring the historical techniques of the home kitchen. These methods and resulting health benefits have been largely replaced in the business of food distribution in our post-industrial western world. Yeah. And the cost of making bone broth to use in soups, stews and all variety of other cooking…extremely budget friendly. My rotisserie batch yielded fifteen cups, not to mention a daily cup or two removed for sipping. Keep in mind that I add whole onions, carrots, and celery each day with herbs to keep the flavors up. At the end, I remove all of those whole cooked veggies and puree with a stick blender to use as a thickener for gravy, heartier soups, and as a base for veggie soup. So that was six whole cups of the veggies removed to puree. I mean…one chicken and a few dollars worth of produce and herbs will feed us for many meals, and make my simpler faster cooking nights that much more layered with flavor.
The Scenario In Three Days
I put everything in the pot on Sunday afternoon while we prepped food for the week and made our Sunday dinner. Sundays often revolve around food shopping, weekly meal planning and lots of cooking at our house. But I must mention that we almost always fit in a trip out to a local haunt for a cocktail and self-reward for all that hard work! But I digress. The crockpot was set to high for the first three hours and then switched to low.
Twenty-four hours later I extracted a mugful of this glorious comfort elixir and sipped it for an afternoon treat. On first taste, it was quite good but I added a small pinch of smoked sea salt, which knocked it into the realm of total bliss on my palette.
A few hours later I also extracted a large mason jar’s worth of this bone broth and labeled it “Day 1 Bone Broth”. I replaced the missing broth with water and added a few more herbs.
Monday evening as I checked on the broth, the chicken began to completely melt apart. In this process of stirring since the beginning, I have skimmed off any impurities that rise to the top. At this point, the broth is becoming a rich and dark color with a gorgeous hue from the turmeric.
At about 48 hours in, I had another mug of the broth and extracted another jar and marked it for Day 2. The broth tastes pretty much the same, but in the end, I will sample a little from each jar and compare. The two jars appear to be the same clarity and color, although I have not skimmed off the fat or fully filtered out the sediment yet. I suppose that could alter the color of either batch.
Wednesday at the end of the full 24 hours since the last check, I turned off the slow cooker and began the final packaging of the broth, puree of the vegetables and overall taste test. Everything tastes about the same as day two. There is less fat congealing at the top of the jars. I got about two full jars (6 cups) worth of pureed vegetables (chicken stock added). Please note that I always strain the broth into a large measuring cup, and then again into the jars. You may even want to use a coffee filter if you want very clear broth for Pho or even just for sipping. I took a couple of days off before making my second round. And those few days were a little strange for me. Adjusting to the aromas being gone was surprisingly disappointing. I guess there are worse withdrawals to experience. I’m hooked on the process and my second and third batches were each five days long.
As a side note to this post, I want to mention that I was a vegetarian for many years. During that time period, I explored the option of going to culinary school. At the orientation, one of the moments that broke me was learning that boiling bones was cooking 101, and there would be no way to avoid it. I know that since then (about 1994-5), I know that there are many options for vegetarian chefs to learn professional cooking. But I’ve thought so much about my culinary road…and it is interesting to think back to when I just plain hated meat as a kid. Anyway…more on that as time goes on. Who’d have guessed I’d be singing the praises of bone broth back then?!