24-Hour Stew Hen Bone Broth
I recently hosted a bone broth cooking class at Inspiration Plantation, in Ridgefield Washington. I chose to highlight stew hens. A stew hen is a mature 2-year-old laying hen, who’s had the time to strengthen it’s muscles and collect a beautiful layer of healthy fat. You can tell the difference of a stew hen, because the healthy fat is yellow and visible (once processed) on the outer layer of the bird. It lends itself a tantalizing flavor and makes for a health-boosting elixir when making bone broth.
Bone broth is made when slow-boiling the bones (and sometimes meat) of an animal for a long period of time. Bones are boiled anywhere from two to twenty-four hours, sometimes even longer. The longer you boil bones, both the flavor and health benefits increase.
Now, I get that boiling bones in your kitchen might seem a little creepy. But, let me tell you why you and your crew should get on board.
Bones contain a large amount of calcium, magnesium and phosphorus. These are minerals that most American’s are deficient in. Also, bones are made up of cartilage (which turns into gelatin), collagen and marrow. These are properties that are not found in any other food source.
When boiling the bones of an animal for a long period of time, everything in the bone and actually holding the bone together, is extracted into the bone broth. In fact, after a long boil, if you hold a bone between your fingers and squish it, the bone will crumble. This signifies the transfer of minerals, nutrients and properties from the bone to the bone broth.
It’s amazing, really.
What do these minerals and properties do?
* support wound healing (magnesium, marrow)
* soft tissue repair (phosphorus, calcium, marrow)
* reformation of cartilage and bone (phosphorus, calcium, marrow)
* joint health (cartilage – gelatin)
* improves digestion (cartilage – gelatin)
* supports immune system (marrow)
* improves cardiovascular health (magnesium)
* supports healthy nail and hair growth (collagen)
* tighten loose skin (cartilage/gelatin)
* repair cellulite (cartilage, collagen) (BTW… chicken feet have the most collagen)
What’s more amazing? Because of bone broths liquid state, it has the opportunity to be immediately absorbed once it enters the body. Grandma knew what she was talking about all those times she said, “Drink your broth!”. She knew, even if you couldn’t hold it down, your body would still absorb much needed nutrients.
What’s more, than more amazing? Bone broth is recycling. Boiling the bones of last nights dinner, offers the opportunity to make tonights tantalizing cuisine. Bone broth can be used in numerous ways. Many people enjoy bone broth on the daily, replacing their morning cup of jo. I use bone broth as a soup starter and as the base liquid to braising roasts. It also works well as a replacement to olive oil or bacon grease when sautéing vegetables.
BTW… I much prefer to use an electric roaster or a crock-pot, when doing a 24-hour boil. I had really bad luck when my husband and I were first married — I started a kitchen fire three times in one year. So, in my house, anything with a flame is turned off asap!
Grocery List (makes 10-12 cups broth)
* stew hen
* 4 cups veggies, chopped (onion, carrots, celery, root veggies, sweet potato…)
* a handful of fresh herbs with stems (parsley, thyme, rosemary…)
* 4 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
* salt & pepper
Cooking Instructions (total cooking time: 12-24 hours)
1) In a large soup pot, cover stew hen (fresh or frozen) with water. Add veggies, herbs and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a low boil. Turn heat down, cover and simmer on low 3-5 hours, until meat falls easily off the bone.
2) Remove stew hen from the soup pot. Carve off all usable meat and set aside for later use (stew hen meat is best served when chopped – salads, stir-frys, soup…).
3) Place all leftover stew hen scraps back into the soup pot (bones, skin, all the goodies…) and bring to a low boil. Turn heat down, cover and simmer for up to 12-24 hours total cooking time.
4) Using a strainer, separate the broth from the bones (I always save the wish bone).
Use bone broth right away or store in the fridge for up to 3 days. Bone broth can also be stored in the freezer.
From my kitchen, to yours ….. let’s ‘cheers’ with bone broth!! Enjoy!!
Reference cited: www.wikipedia.org