Saturday, October 25, 2014

Skin and Bone meets pressure cooker for awesome broth stock staple paleo or not it rocks - How to Make your Own

This post is going to be a how to for making fantastic stock/broth - as well as some thoughts on why you might want to bother - regularly - both to make and consume it.
making bone broth from scratch: yes you can
and in about 70 mins rather than 12 hours or 7 days
If you already know the pure and delightful Truth of Broth (or Stock) then please sing along with me, here. If you do not, have i ever got news for you - and fear not - this is going to be SO EASY AND FUN you’ll wonder where this food source has been all your life.

So let me begin:
Do you love food? The flavours? the textures?
Are you a bit of a techno geek? (anyone a little ocd in this regard - there’s love here for you too).

DO you like the idea of eating not only flavourful stuff but mmm mmm healthy too?

So my next question if you’re saying AMEN, mc, AMEN to any of these is:

Well do you make your own stock?

if the answer is “ah….” perhaps we may want to start with the basics:

Well what the heck is STOCK? 

Oh, to be able to hold your hand, and look you in the eye and say “it’s wonderful!”

If you eat meat, if you cook it at home, if you have bones left over that you’ve been throwing out or composting, i have news for you: these are the source of Awesome Goodness - and taste. rich wonderful soothing happiness can be yours - and you can feel better in yourself for getting EVEN MORE VALUE out of your meat (energy costly) purchases.

Stock/Broth (broth tends to have more meat in it than stock which is more bone, so if there's chunks of meat left on the bone?? let's not get hung up on terms) - is made from cooking up bones in water to pull out their nutrient goodness  that just doesn’t come out of them when surface cooking meat.

There are some really nice overviews of the benefits of broth already online () that suggest even if some of the claims may seem to jump the shark, there's some home and science truths in there, as well. [the Paleo Leap detailed faq seems the richest. the whole9 bone broth FAQ, some good stuff on geletin and collagen via Dr. Axe  and learn about GAGs and broth, too]

This stock is the basis of traditional preparations from chicken soup to rich gravy to anything in a recipe where anyone would suggest a disgusting bovril cube.

The Horror of Dehydrated Stock: Where's the Beed?

Indeed, this whole exploration into stock started for me when feeling a bit punk last year and thinking “consume would be good - how about getting a beef bouillon cube?” - and then reading the labels of said cubes. To quote a 70’s commercial “where’s the beef”? or Chicken.

Ew! what is that? MSG much?
so called "stock" cube -don't do it
Here's the ingredient list of a Bovril Chicken Sachet in Oct 2014:

Do you see Chicken in this? What's the first ingredient?

Here's the Beef Sachet

What’s the solution? Going manual.

Cooking Up Bones

AH but HOW go manual?

Stock is traditionally done up by bones in water for a long time on a low heat to get them to break down enough to release that goodness from marrow innards to releasing bone itself - and also extracting more goodness from the stuff left on the bones (tendons, bits of meat, fats) that usually gets tossed and lost.

8-12 hours is not uncommon for the slow cooking approach to bone broth. That's a bit much. I say, a bit much.

Enter Technology: long live the Pressure Cooker.

My hope was that there may be a way to shorten cooking time for stock, and that something in the back of my mind said “pressure cooker”

Now the pressure cooker for me was something when growing up was to be feared: used for canning jams, apparently the pot could just fly apart - or so we were lead to believe - with this little rocker on top of it pistoning back and forth, steam squirting from it “pressure cookers are dangerous - back away” - Fear.

que es mas macho? mc describing research while swinging 48kg
- how hard can a pressure cooker be?
But then i thought, now wait a minute: i’ve heard that about kettlebells, too, and it just takes some skills to use those safely. Perhaps pressure cookers are sort of the same.

Pressure Cooker or Kettlebell.
Que es mas macho?

Turns out pressure cookers have come a long way in terms of reliability of their seals, and the mechanisms used to suggest the heat can now be turned down to maintain internal pressure.  Turns out pressure cookers are about the coolest cooking implement out there in terms of not just speed of cooking but the way they (a) reduce energy use big time for cooking and (b) maintain nutrients in the foods better than anything else. no kidding.

Quick Insight into How PC’s work

Ah even Peter Gabriel celebrates the wonderful power of Steam.
Raise pressure, we raise boiling point.
Higher boiling point, hotter by product of boiling, that is, hotter steam.
image from Pressure Cooker Diaries: how pc's work

Pressurised steam gets really hot (120C rather than 100 [okay, 250+ rather than 212F])
- steam also transfers energy more intensely when cooking than putting the thing on a grill - by about 6x’s. So it’s fast - as steaming veggies shows.
That highly efficient fast energy transfer  in the steamer can transform those veggies rapidly without damaging it/changing it (i.e. killng nutrients and taste) as much as air-based (oven) cooking (check out PC nutrient cooking facts - you may be surprised at just how awesome PC's are for preserving food value - esp. for big greens like kale or spring greens i am totally doing them in the PC now - 3 mins - done).

Now with a PC we’re combining the benefits of steam with even higher temperatures, which means that cooking times can also be significantly reduced.

Back to Broth: Pressure Cooker Meets Bone

SO instead of beef bones slowly simmering away in water at a low heat for 8-10 hours (called slow cooking for a reason), we now get bone broth done in a pressure cooker for, oh, all in, 70-90 minutes. Some people go for even shorter cooks, but in my experience, from the moment one turns on the heat, to when the lid is ready to open again we’re talking about an hour and a half.

Here’s how it goes:

What you Need - besides the pressure cooker
- whatever bones you like -
Chicken carcass from
roast chicken - great base for broth - include the
skin and any herbs used in roasting

They all create something slightly different. For instance, chicken bones and skin can be pretty mild and not very gelatinous when the broth is done.

Red meat bones (lamb, beef)seem to be more punchy in their flavour.

 I like to use a mix of chicken and beef bones. As i don’t eat as much red meat, but do have a local butcher, i can get a big bag o’ beef bones for a quid. This is stunning to me: when visiting pals in Seattle this summer, we went to an organic food co-op and two bits of soup bone from a happy grass fed cow were over 6 dollars. Uh huh. So yes, bones for a quid. From UK grass fed cows. Thank you.

Note on Chicken: it’s nice if you’ve roasted a chicken and you put thyme and rosemary inside the cavity - to leave those herbs in the carcass for the broth - nice flavours.

- veggies
really - here, it’s very simple - break up some older carrots, cut up an onion or so,

Garlic, carrots, onions - enough for stock
smash in some garlic (i like rather a lot) - leave the skins on as all this will be sieved out - and that’s about it for the veg. Some folks like to add cilantro etc. Ya go ahead. i prefer that fresh cut after.

other bits
- 5ml of cider vinegar - this helps get the stuff off the bones
- 30 ml of Red Boat Fish Sauce - this is a Thai fish sauce that is just anchovies and salt - and it’s used in lieu of salt - thanks to Nom Nom Paleo for this tip.

Red Boat Fish Sauce;
Cider Vinegar
WHY Red Boat reason 1:- it’s the one Thai Fish Sauce i’ve found that doesn’t have sugar in it - if you find others you like that are just anchovies and salt, please let me know
WHY Red Boat reason 2:  i’m really hesitant to put salt into a pressure cooker. Some folks do this with no problems, but if a bit of salt doesn’t dissolve i’ve seen it pit the floor of the PC - that’s only an aesthetic gripe perhaps - but i like my tools to be as happy as possible.
WHY Red Boat reason 3: compared to using salt, i prefer the slight taste difference of the fish sauce.

Put about 120ml of water into a cup and pour in both the cider vinegar and the red boat sauce - leave aside

That’s it for ingredients.

Thinking ahead: how much bone-age?

You’re going to be putting bones and veg into this pot and covering it with water (a la top photo). The absolute MAX amount you want in whatever size PC you’re using is no more than 2/3 full. I prefer to go for enough so that when the bones and veg are covered it’s no more than the half way mark. I get about 2.5L of stock from that, (done in a 6L PC) and that’s more than ample for a week of fresh stock.

Once you’ve figured out Amounts,
BROWN THE BONES (about 10 minutes)
That means: put some olive oil in the bottom of the pot, get it up to a medium heat and put in the bones, so they can fit making good contact with the surface of the bone to the pot bottom, turning them every few minutes, to build up some brownness on the bone. Some people skip this step, but i think that’s sad: you’d be missing a really lovely flavour if ya don’t brown the bones. but you know - find out what you like.

Chicken and Beef Bones in the pot with some oil to brown
bone remnants post browning
Now take out the bones - put ‘em aside on a plate

next: degalze (wonderful term, eh?)
This is easy and just takes a minute or two
Put a little water (use filtered again for flavour) into the hot pot, and use a spatula or water - bamboo or silicon tools are groovy here - to scrape off the stuff that’s now at the bottom of the pot - get all the bits off. it’s easy to do. just watch for rubbing so vigerously you splatter your self - there’s hot fat in there!

add a little water and then scrape gently to remove bone bits from bottom of pan
watch for steam and oil spitting up at you.
after de-glazing bone bits loosened off.
Now we’re all set to go: 
Put the bones back in.
Cover them with water.
Put in the veggies
veggies laid in on the bones

Cover everything with water - again just cover - onions and carrots can float so just poke ‘em to make sure they’re floating as opposed to sitting high, meaning more water.

** Pour in the fish sauce/vinegar/water mix.

Check that all is covered and that you’re not TOO FULL (not beyond 2/3s - a mark many pots have inside ) better to be safe than sorry - so be careful here.

note water is just to 1/2 full mark here
Check the gasket around the lid of your PC to make sure it’s seated correctly
Put the lid on.

Fire up the pressure cooker.
— On a stove - whether electric or gas - you can crank the element as high as you’d like here.
Getting the PC to 15PSI on Induction Plate
— On an induction hob: back off from full bore - medium high is usually great - going back to medium high give the PC time to get the whole PC nice and evenly hot inside rather than just stoking up the boil on the water. The heuristic here is find a temp so it takes at least 10 minutes for the PC to get to its HI pressure setting. Thanks for here for tips on induction heating of PC’s

Once the PC hits hi (every PC is a little different in how it indicates its full 15psi, but that's what we're looking for: hi pressure) start the time for 50mins and back it off to whatever heat setting is required to maintain high pressure for the 50 minutes.

NOTE ON TIME - some folks like 30 minutes - yes that can work - but i like the extra time that i’ve found really takes the stuff off the bones and the bones become more soft, white, extracted. It’s up to you.

Once the 50mins is up, take the PC off the heat and let the pressure release on its own (called natural release method)
Once the valve says it’s ready to take off the lid, take off the lid.


here's that same beef bone from
the browning image above, post PC.
Bone is white and along with tendon/cartilage
 notice how broken down,
mineral goodness into broth
For this stage, i like to move the whole pot into the sink because i’m going to be transferring bones etc to a sieve over the bowel i’m going to use to hold the broth, and from there out to the Compost or Trash for the left over bits.

SO - from the sink, open pot, get a spoon - again i like to use a spoon with a plastic head to avoid scratching the inside of the pot. you don’t have to - you can use stainless steel - i just prefer this way.

You can also use tongs to pull out the bones or you can be brave and just pour the whole thing into a sieve sitting in a bowl, lift out the sieve, and voila, your hot stock is there.

Do whatever you wish with the bones etc, and prepare to TASTE your broth. There will be a lot of fat potentially floating on the top that will later be skimmed off but right now (if you wish), inhale the aroma and enjoy a taste.

Stock SETTING - Pre Fridge
I like to put a plate on top of the bowl and let the broth cool before putting it in the fridge overnight.
A method to accelerate the cooling of the broth to get it into the fridge sooner? i bet i didn’t invent this - someone else must have thought of it - but  i feel pretty clever - i fill a big mason jar with icy cold water and put that in the middle of the bowl.

I’ll change the water a few times - it’s cool to observe this energy transfer: 70degree broth with a 15C 500ml jar of water - both will get to the same temperature in how long?? When the stock gets to about 20C it’s ready to go into the fridge.
ice and cold water in jar, jar in broth
accelerate cooling down to get into fridge
Setting  - in fridge
let the stock do its thing overnight in the fridge. Cover bowl with a plate while in the fridge: as it does its final cooling the fat may form stalagtites on the underside of the plate - better there than a shelf in your fridge. With say Lamb in the stock, that lanolin can be quite the chore to get off.

In the morning the fat will come to the top of the broth and form a skin (referred to as scum. blick) ; this skin can be easily peeled off with a big spoon, and then chucked. I’m sure some folks will find a way to make candles or something from this - i haven’t done that as of this date.

morning Stock: fat skin (aka scum) on broth

Fat is quite hard on top and easy to lift off in sheets
The stock can then be put into airtight containers.
Pending on the type of bones, the stock will be more liquidy or gelatinous. Neither state has an effect on taste; it may only indicate something about the amount of gelatine in the stock. If you want lots, those large beef bones are the ticket. Chicken skin going in with the caracas also seems to make some difference here.

in this case, a pretty getaltinous thick stock,
pouring into airtight container for fridge
Stock can be frozen easily in freezer bags or in ice cube trays and then into freezer bags for easy use, and kept that way for months.
et voila! thick stock - 2.5L - ready to heat, eat, put
back in fridge or freeze
Fresh, lasts without any second guessing for a week.

Example USE - Fish Soup 

Stock can be used for all sorts of things: glazing meats making gravy, bases for soups, steaming veggies. Anywhere you'd usually use water in cooking, we can use stock it seems.

A recipe i've been loving in the mornings as a safe way to get my DHA/EPA from whole-food sources is fish soup.
 100g skinless cooked/smoked mackerel cut up into small pieces the size you'd like in a spoon

- 2 ladels of stock 

- a bit of unpasturised miso paste, for all the good little bacteria (i like clearspring organic - keeps in the fridge, from japan (about miso))

- a bit of hot sauce to taste (i love me some Cambrdige Chilli Company Ghost Pepper no. 10)

- some wakame (dried little pieces of sea weed that reconstitute in the broth)

That's about it - now you can heat this back up on the stove or shove it in the nuker for 2mins.

Enjoy with a side of cooked kale and blanched spinach, with a bit of coarse ground salt.


I like this for the protein and for the natural fish oil (over 2.5 g of omega 3 in 100g of mackerel) and the FLAVOUR and the warmth.

One More Example: Broth for Lunch

A very similar recipe is simply to replace the fish with turkey and pop the whole thing into an airtight and leak tight container to take to work. We have a fridge at work, so that's where this container goes till lunch. 

Prepping Lunch: stock, a couple shots Ghost Pepper no. 10,
clearspring organic miso paste, wakame, chopped up
turkey cooked the night before.
Lid up, away ya go.
There's something so civilised about a hot lunch, don't you think? Stock lets you have something home made, extremely tasty and filling - that double hit of protein - a bit from the broth and more from the meat - also has a high satiety value to keep us rolling through the afternoon.

Sunday Ritual: Making Stock.

Making stock like this has become a bit of a sunday ritual - it's easy to do, soothing, takes my head out of work, and provides something nice for the family for the rest of the week. With a pressure cooker and left over bones, rescuing some tired veggies, i'm reducing food waste, getting more out of an animal, and apparently doing something health positive too. What's not to enjoy?

Hope you'll let me know if you give this a go.  And especially hope you'll find the taste place you love as you do.

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