Want to know how to make bone broth? Making stock or bone broth (or whatever you want to call it…they’re the same thing!) is incredibly simple. All you need is time. Food stylist and cookbook author, Georgina Hayden shares her top tips.
Ask any chef what makes restaurant food extra special and they will tell you it’s the quality of the ingredients and how every element of that dish has been made from scratch. A classic example of this is stock. We’ve all been there, using those little packets of crumbly cubes to enhance the flavour of our meals. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with them, I am in no way about to renounce my stock cube jar any time soon. However homemade stock can take a lot of dishes to that next level, and the beauty is that you don’t have to be a Michelin-starred chef to make your own. Not only is it unbelievably simple to make, it also costs just pennies. All you need is time.
So where to start? Meat stock needs bones
Meat is often pre-prepared before we buy it, which means the butchers who do the preparing are the ones left with mounds of bones. Now I know for a fact that I’m not the only one who cares about food waste, and the brilliant guys at Farmdrop are working tirelessly on ways they can help to reduce it. One of their actions has been to sell (very cheaply) these otherwise disused chicken carcasses, beef, pork and lamb bones, so we can easily make stock at home. Win for everyone.
You can find countless recipes for making stock in books and online, but to be honest if all you did was to throw the bones in a large pot with some roughly chopped up root veg and covered it all with water, you would be in a good place. For my base recipe I always add onions, carrots and celery. A few peppercorns and a bay leaf in there for good measure (season with salt at the end). That’s it.
Bring the water to the boil, then reduce to a simmer and leave your stock happily ticking away for all the hours you can give it, you will be rewarded with flavoursome stock.
How to add depth of flavour
There are variations of course. I am addicted to congee (a savoury Chinese rice porridge) which involves poaching a whole chicken to make stock, and in there I will always add a little sliced ginger. You’ll end up with deliciously flavoured stock and tender meat, too. If I’m making pho which relies on a deep rich broth made from beef bones, I not only add ginger but I char it first. I char the onions too, to add a smokiness to the finished stock, as well as aromatics such as star anise and cinnamon.
You can even try roasting the carcass or bones and vegetables first, to really ramp up the intensity of the flavours. Spread the ingredients out onto roasting trays and pop in a hot oven for around 30 to 40 minutes, so they become dark and crisp. Then (carefully) transfer them to a stock pot and continue as normal. Delicious.
The next key component is time
Making stock can take anything from two hours to several days, with a lot of the wellness brigade claiming that you need to cook the bones for at least 18 hours to really break down the cartilage, extracting the nutritious gelatin and collagen into your broth. At the end of the day if you have the time, go for it. You can’t really over-cook stock, and it is true that the longer you give it the richer it will be. And whilst I’m not the person to tell you about the nutritional elements, even your grandma will tell you that it is medicinal and full of goodness. It has been used in this ways for years and who am I to argue.
Don’t let the lengthy hours put you off though. If you haven’t got 18 hours to spare don’t worry. Two to four hours for a chicken stock will be still delicious, and if I give my beef or lamb stock six hours then I am happy. Then, once it’s ready, strain it through a fine sieve, cool down the liquid and you’re done. Keep it in the fridge to use within a few days or store it happily in a sealed container in the freezer for a few months, the choice is yours.
Broths, risottos, stews and soups: the many ways to use stock
There are so many ways to use stock, and I’ve already mentioned a few – broths, soups, even stews. But it doesn’t end there, homemade stock is perfect in creamy risottos, for cooking grains and pulses. It’ll take your gravy to the next level and it even serves perfectly as a warming nutritious drink. Genuinely, there is nothing I love more than a mugful of stock on a chilly day, and I swear I haven’t gone all paleo since my last post. Drinking stock is an age-old tradition. The current food fad may be to relabel it as ‘bone broth’ but, at the end of the day, they are exactly the same thing.
Making stock or bone broth or whatever you want to call it is no passing trend. It is a traditional, clever way to make the most out of what we have, which not only makes food as flavoursome as possible, but is great for us too.
Need more inspo? Find out what three top London ramen chefs do to achieve noodle soup nirvana at home.