Who wants a cold green juice when temps outside are well below freezing? What’s the health-conscious trendite/eater to do? The folks in line in front of Brodo in New York City’s East Village are braving the frigid weather, but not for juice, or ramen -- or even cronuts. They are queuing for a steaming cup of bone broth sold from a window, $4.50 for 8 ounces.
Depending on your point of view, bone broth is either the new juice -- or, as some have gone so far as to say, the new coffee. (Take that, Starbucks!) It’s definitely the buzz beverage of the moment -- and just the thing for midwinter. It’s rebranded as the ultimate health food -- especially for the paleo diet (no coffee or tea allowed) -- though no one says you can’t follow up a cup of bone broth with a slice of pizza.
As Marco Canora -- the chef behind Brodo and restaurant Hearth -- knows, bone broth is not new. He’s a relatively recent adherent, and he credits bone broth (along with some other dietary changes) with helping him be in the best shape he’s ever been in. Grandmothers of all kinds often had vats of broth simmering for hours. Various cuisines, whether you're talking French, Chinese, or beyond, emphasize the importance of good broth. Where would your ramen be without that 24-hour tonkotsu pork broth? But what’s making bone broth wildly popular now is its host of possible health benefits for inflammatory diseases, digestive problems, and bone health, among others.
The Bone Truth
There’s a bit more to making bone broth than a regular chicken or beef stock -- a lot more time. Bone broth simmers for upward of eight hours; 24 is usual, though poultry bone broth is quicker. The broth goes beyond what happens with regular stock/broth -- basically the collagen and other minerals and proteins dissolve into gelatin that thickens and adds richness to the broth and provides us with these nutrients in a readily absorbable form.
And as fans are sipping it by the cupful rather than using it as an ingredient in other recipes, the quality of the bones used is even more paramount than usual. This is the time to get free-range chicken or turkey or the bones of pasture-raised beef from the butcher. Another difference is that the bones are roasted, to bring out flavors, before being simmered. (It's much like the process for French-style brown stock.)
Bone broth is a trend that has been simmering (pun!) for a while. Three years ago, Chuck Eggert, founder of Pacific Foods, decided to improve his company’s line of broths by increasing protein content and eliminating artificial flavors. Their line of bone broths launched in 2013 and uses organic chicken and turkey bones -- and not much else. They are sold in 8-ounce individual servings, just right for the paleo follower who doesn’t have time to make broth.
Drink a Cup
Like many cooks, our executive editorial director Lucinda Scala Quinn often makes broth, and not just for soups, risottos, and sauces. Her family frequently sips cups of her capon broth in place of tea. Start your journey to bone broth by making her easy Chicken Elixir. A cupful goes down very well.
Do you make bone broth, or are you inspired to start?