Monday, February 23, 2015

Bone Broth Stew

Few things are as nourishing and healing as bone broth. We go through this stuff like crazy in our house. I cook with it, we drink it, I feed Chase a stew with it almost every single day for breakfast. A couple of people have asked me about how I do my broth, and what I put in Chase's stew, so I figured I'd do a post on it to refer to. Because we go through so much of this stuff, and do so many different things with it, I don't always do everything exactly the same but I will make note of that, too.  Pictures always help. 

This round, I am using my broth to make stew for Chase. (And us!) So, I did buy a bundle of organic carrots and celery to cut up and use. I will go over later why I don't usually have to buy much of anything to make broth. I also have the remains of a roasted chicken as well as the bones from several dinners of wings, an onion, some bay leaves and apple cider vinegar. If I have fresh herbs laying around that need to be used up I often times will toss some in as well but I didn't this time. 
Prepping carrots
prepping celery

The first thing I do is prep my veggies. I take the ends off my carrots and peel them, and trim my celery down. because I'm making a stew and want the veggies in there for Chase to eat, I will use "the good part" to make this round of broth. I will actually reserve the peels and ends of the carrots, as well as the trimmed parts and leaves from my celery in the freezer to make another batch of broth with. These party are typically throw-away items in most households. I make plenty of broth for drinking and cooking with, and these parts are fine for that and it essentially gives me a free batch. I also keep my onion ends as well. I keep a container in my freezer that I throw onion, celery, and carrot parts in. 
Next, I am going to pull all the remaining meat off my chicken frame to reserve to use in my stew. Everything else gets put in the crock pot. Bones, skin, organs all go in. These are also components that are generally throw-away items. I reserve all bones from our meals in the freezer until I have enough to make a batch of broth. I don't generally have to buy bones to make broth because we accumulate enough without buying more. This batch is all chicken, but it's not uncommon to have some pork or beef ribs in the mix as well. Then I rough chop an onion and toss it in, if I don't have any ends in my freezer waiting to be used. 

At this point, if I'm just making broth, I will throw my veggie scraps right in the pot. Because I am making a stew, I put everything that is going to be reserved for it in a fine strainer, and wet it in. This just makes it easier to not have to fish out the little bits (which I've cut down pretty small to be baby-friendly) but still get the flavor and benefits of them in my broth. All the rest is going to be throw away when I'm done with it. Now I fill my pot with RO water until everything is covered. I add a splash of ACV (lemon juice works, too) which helps to draw all the nutrients out of those bones and into the broth where I want them. 
I let this cook on low for about 36 hours. Sometimes more, sometimes less. Usually I put it on at night, and then stop it sometime in the first half of the second day. It's not an exact science. I add a couple of bay leaves the last 12 hours or so. Why I don't put them in in the beginning I'm not really sure, probably because that's what the blogger I learned from said to do. I have no reasoning for this. I do check in on it about every 12 hours to make sure i don't need to add more water. Sometimes if I am doing this veggie-strainer method I need to add more because the lid isn't completely on and I love more to evaporation.  
Ready to go for round 2
After 24-48 ish hours, I use a big slotted spoon to pull all the "stuff" out. I set a fine mesh strainer over a pitcher in my sink and drain the broth through it. I enjoy a nice clear broth, so sometimes I even lay a paper towel in my strainer to filter it a little more. Then I put my bones back on for the second round. Yes, I do two rounds for each batch of bones, but I only have the second one go for 12-18 or so hours. Meanwhile, the first batch is in the fridge to set. It will be thick and jiggly and the fat will solidify on top. What you do with the fat is up to you. If I'm making a drinking broth I remove most of it because drinking oily broth is not enjoyable to me. If I'm making food for Chase, I leave a decent amount of it in. The fat is excellent to cook with, so if you skim it, don't trash it! 

soft bones
When the second batch is done, the bones are pretty done for. They are soft enough to easily smash between fingers. I strain this batch just like the first one, and throw away all my bones and veggie scraps. They've done their job. I don't usually have much fat at all in this second round so I don't bother setting and skimming it separately. 
At this point, if you were making just broth, you're done! Combine batch 1 and 2, and store however you choose to. I freeze in freezer-safe jars personally. I recommend tall, skinny jars because you want it to cool and freeze all the way through as quickly as possible. 

I am going to continue on and make a stew. 
I will combine my broth batches in a big stock pot. 
All that chicken I pulled off and reserved I cut up into baby-friendly pieces, and add that to my pot with the veggies. I will let this cook on low, just barely a simmer, for a couple of hours. I lightly salt and pepper mine and also add some fresh garlic, but you don't have to. I also add some pasta- usually home made, but not always. This time I was too lazy to make pasta and had no store bought on hand, so I threw some rice and tortellini in. It was a nice change. Really, you can put whatever the heck you want in it. Chase is messy with soup, so I add enough of whatever to make it thick and easily spoon-able. 
Jon and I both had generous servings of it for dinner, and it was absolutely delicious. I put all the leftovers in jars to be frozen, reserving a bowl for lunch the next day. Chase eats about 6-8 oz of this almost every single morning and he loves it. I feel good about the fact it gets some good digestible veggies in his system, (he will eat plenty of veggies but has no molars yet, so they aren't very digestible for him yet) as well as all the benefits of that super nutritious and gut-healing broth. Sure, there are more healthy options than pasta, rice, and tortellini, but I don't feel bad about those at all and still MUCH rather give my toddler this than "baby cereal" for breakfast.

Annie approves, too!

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