FOOD Fad: I’ve Got a Bone to Pick

FOOD FANATICS see trends come and go, but sometimes chefs can take a good thing and turn it into a cliché. Case in point: these bone dishes we’ve been seeing a little too much of:

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Marrow Overkill — A giant shank cut lengthwise is too much of a good thing.                        (I went to a top buffet in Vegas where they had platters of bone marrow).  My friend was like “omg they have bone marrow…I’m so going for that”.  I did too but it wasn’t the high point of my dinner.

Bone-In Burger — A burger with a bone sticking out just for laughs is…laughable.
Bone Broth — C’mon: Broth was made with bones centuries before the paleo craze.

I’m laughing because all of a sudden “bone broth” is a thing People are drinking the liquid all day long as a medicinal to prevent sickness or keep from getting more sick than they already are (like when you have a basic cold).

Most of us grew up with our grandmothers making soup from scratch which meant first making a stock from chicken or beef bones – same as today (unless you buy “already made” broth from a can or box which every grocery stores sells).  I know people who buy broth from a butcher for $10 a litre.  To make a good batch of soup you’d need at least 3-4 litres. And to make your own don’t forget that marrow no longer comes cheap.  At $4-5 a lb. it doesn’t seem like much but you’ll need several bones to make a large pot of soup and with all the extras you can prepare to spend about $30 to make it worthwhile.  Anything time consuming you want to have lots of.

Making a homemade *stock (or broth) from bones does take time to do properly but it’s so worthwhile.  You cannot recreate a good soup solely from adding Knorr® bouillon cubes to water.  But if a recipe calls for only adding a little stock (eg: rice or risotto) I use “better than bouillon” in its many forms (beef, chicken or veggie depending). It’s the next best thing if homemade is not on hand.

I credit the bone broth trend for giving me a kick to going back to making wholesome soups from scratch.

Homemade Beef Broth - made with bones

Back to Basic Homemade Beef Broth

Nothing replaces it. The ‘bone broth’ most people are now referring to is the kind that you cook for up to two days where the bones begin to disintegrate and then you strain everything through a sieve to get only the liquid.  This has to be done with chicken because beef bones don’t really disintegrate entirely. I can’t even tell you how long it would take if they did. With beef you make sure to get bones with as much marrow in them as possible because the marrow is what gives you the nutritive qualities that have all the healthy benefits. Bone broth builds bones, and the likely reason is it’s high in gelatin — collagen. And collagen is what provides the framework for good bones. That’s what’s needed to lay on calcium and other minerals. Gelatin is one of the healthiest foods you can eat and has benefits ranging from reducing wrinkles (I’m told it’s even better than botox but I wouldn’t know!), healing joints, building stronger bones, and even improving dental health. The biggest benefit of gelatin is that it is apparently a gut healer.bones2I’ve been buying large grass fed beef shanks with marrow and add **oxtail for flavour.  I brown them first before putting them into my large slow cooker set on high for one hour and then low for as long as it takes for the marrow to soften and the meat to fall away from the bones.  Last time it took 36 hours.  This is the original slow cooking. They will create their own juices over time (just make sure you check to make sure they don’t dry out – add water if you need to) but you can always put them into a large pot of water, bring to a boil and then simmer for hours.  Then once cool, remove all the bones, cut up the meat and set aside.  Then cut up your veggies (garlic, onion, celery, carrots) and add spices and 2-3 bay leaves to the pot.  If using a slow cooker you can now add water.  I put some of the bones back in with the vegetables and remove once the veggies are fully cooked.  Once the veggies are soft and the stock is tasting good I then add the meat and a bunch of cut-up kale and sometimes serve over tiny egg noodles or macaroni for added heartiness.  See? It’s so easy – just that everyone is in so much in a hurry now to have it…now.

A great pot of soup is nurturing and at this time of year especially there’s always some on hand in my house either in the fridge or freezer.  And it tastes like what your grandmother used to make.  Which is all the rage.

Nice to know grannies are trending

*The only difference between a stock and a broth is a stock uses bones, and a broth is the liquid the meat was cooked in.

**Oxtail: not only does it add more flavour but it also contains trace amounts of calcium, with 10 milligrams of calcium present in 100 grams of oxtail and is a very good source of iron.

Do you make soup from scratch or try to cut corners? – just wondering.

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