Winter nourishment, broth!

Broth is life and indeed beautiful, I promise you. Whether you are using the bones of chicken, beef, lamb, fish, etc., they enrich our dishes and most importantly, our diets, and above all they allow ourselves an opportunity to honor the animal that fed us and the vegetables (now scraps) that were once vivid in colors and full of vigor. In that sense, broth as a second chance. As the precious juice of mother earth.

When I cannot make bone broth I feel weakened in my ability to feed myself and my family properly. And I am not exagerating. Just like when I cannot cook beans or spend long periods of time without eating mandioca (yuca), mamão papaya and mate. For they represent a deep connection to my land, upbringing and sentimental memory. And so I make it a priority to celebrate these foods in my everyday life as much as possible. A common thread among Brazilian expats.

The truth is, even though they were a part of traditional kitchens from the past, our grandmothers and all that came before, by the time I had my own children, artificial and processed broth cubes were a staple in most Brazilian kitchens, sadly. That coupled with a desire to give my first born only the best (a concept that evolves as we grow and learn) inspired me to start making my own - broth as a radical act. Ultimately what broth really did was to bring me back to a more intimate relationship with food, simple wholesome foods.

Many studies now confirm what Grandma always knew–that broth made from bones is a great remedy, a tonic for the sick, a strengthener for athletes, a digestive aid, a healing elixir. And unlike bitter medicines, broth can be incorporated into delicious soups, stews and sauces. In fact, broth is the basis of all gourmet cuisines. “Without broth,” said Escoffier, “one can do nothing.” Kaayla Daniel

Lately I have been into making broth according to the seasons, taking advantage of all the beautiful fresh produce available and adding some of my favorite roots (burdock, dandelion, astragalus) and mushrooms, resulting in a very earthy, grounding winter medicine. I learned with a friend and herbalist (hey, Julie!) that you can also add Eleutherococus and Codonopsis roots for immunity and vitality, as well as Kombu kelp rich in minerals. I often soak the bones or carcass in vinegar for a couple hours as it's said to help extract calcium from the bones. Some folks skip this step and add vinegar straight to the pot. If you are using beef or lamb bones you can first roast them in the oven or give them a quick pan sear to improve taste and color of your broth, if I am having a hectic day I'll often skip this step.

My most used recipe ... because we roast a chicken once a week. ;-)

Vegetable scraps (carrots, broccoli stems, celery, leeks)

Onions and garlic 

Carcass of 1 roasted chicken (use chicken feet as often as possible for a more gelatinous broth!)

Gizzards, if any left

Ginger and turmeric too

Mushrooms (maitake, shiitake, cremini just to name a few)

Fresh and or dried herbs such as rosemary, thyme, oregano, bay leaves, oftentimes I will add only a handful of parsley, my favorite herb

Sea salt

In a large enough pot add all the ingredients and cover them with water. Bring the water to a boil slowly and skim any scum that rises to the top. Simmer anywhere between 24 - 48 hours. Remove the bones and strain out the vegetables. You can use the stock as is, or chill to remove the fat that congeals on the top. I leave the fat. Fat is good. The stock may be kept in the refrigerator for several days or in the freezer for several months.

 Enjoy in good health!

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