Boil Those Bones

Does any meal have better leftovers than Thanksgiving? Personally, I love a fully loaded hot turkey sandwich topped with gravy and cranberry sauce. But after the meat is gone, you’re left with a giant carcass. Even if you’re not making turkey soup, don’t let those bones go unboiled.

Do you make turkey soup? If so, you’re probably one step ahead of me here. Bone broth is the liquid leftover after you simmer meaty bones and connective tissue. Veggies, herbs, and spices are often added to the cooking pot to further flavor the broth. The addition of acidic ingredients, such as wine or apple cider vinegar, not only adds a little depth to the flavor but the acid helps break down collagen and release other nutrients from the bones. Collagen has a gelatinous texture and will thicken your broth

nicely. You’ll find B-vitamins, amino acids and minerals, such as sulfur, magnesium, calcium and more in bone broth too. On top of being a nutrient dense liquid, bone broth is filling and comforting. It’s often used to combat cravings for people making dietary changes and may help alleviate symptoms due to having a cold or stomach upset.

OK, so how do you make bone broth. As I said, if you’re making turkey soup, you’re probably already doing this. First, you want to start with cooked bones. Your turkey carcass is perfect, but you don’t need the whole frame to make broth. You can use leftover turkey or chicken bones from any bone-in cut. For beef knuckle joints, neck bones, shank, and oxtail are preferred. For pork try ham hocks or pork neck. You can also make bone broth from fish heads and bones. Fish bone broth is also a great source of iodine on top of the nutrients you’ll find in other bones.

When cooking bone broth, I like to leave a little meat on the bones but will remove any big chunks. Add your bones to a pot and cover with water. You can add onions and garlic here. I like to roast the onions and garlic first. You can cook them right with your meat. Any other veggies can go in later. Add salt and pepper, some acid like wine or apple cider vinegar and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the liquid reduces by a ⅓ or so. I usually simmer the bones for 4-8 hours but have seen recommendations of up to 12. I just don’t usually have that kind of time.

During cooking, spoon off any of the frothy foam that forms on the surface. This is ok to consume but clouds your final broth. As I said before in your last 30 minutes, add your other veggies like carrots and celery. This prevents them from over sweating your broth. During the last 10 minutes you can add any leafy herbs. This helps them maintain their flavors and not get lost in the mix. Once your broth is finished, strain it to remove any solid particles. You can skim off congealing fat that floats to the surface as the liquid cools if you like.

OK, now that you’ve got your bone broth, what do you do with it? Well obviously, you can use it as a base for soup. As I’ve already mentioned, bone broth is often sipped on by itself. You can also pack flavor and nutritional value into other foods with bone broth. Try cooking your rice in bone broth next time. Make a sauce or gravy out of bone broth and you’ll never go back.

I never let a bone escape my kitchen without being boiled. I hope I’ve inspired you to do the same. Do you have a bone broth recipe you love? Please share.

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