After the excesses of the festive season, you might be feeling the need for a bit of a detox. While faddy dieting and fasting aren’t things we hold with, we do like the idea of giving your gut a bit of a break and feeding it some lovely, nutritious dishes it can easily digest. The easiest way to do your tummy a favour? Treat it to some broth. Made simply from bones (ideally joint bones) broth is a shortcut to a big hit of protein that’s low in fat but packed full of the vitamins and minerals your body needs for recovery and regeneration.
Gently simmered broths extract all the goodness and flavour from the bones and carcasses that would otherwise be a by-product of butchery. As well as the bits of leftover meat (even the most skilled butcher can’t get it all off), bones contain lots of invisible bits and bob that render down on cooking and are absorbed into the liquid. Connective tissues contain collagen, gelatin, minerals and amino acids that are essential for a well-balanced gut. They also benefit the immune system, skin and heart health. A flavour-packed broth makes a warming snack when sipped on its own (toss in some iron-rich greens to really enter superfood territory). Or use it as the basis for a filling soup, as the stock in your favourite slow-cooked casserole and in tasty gravies.
Making your own broth is a really simple exercise. You can cook up a big batch, portion it and keep it on hand in the freezer to use as and when you need it. The secret to getting the best out of your bones is time. If you’ve ever made a slightly disappointing, insipid stock, it’s possible you rushed it. We reckon a good 12, if not 24 hours, is the way to go. That’s why sitting your stock pot in a very low oven or using a slow cooker are great ways to go about the process – you can just toss in the ingredients and go about your work as the broth goes about its.
For the absolutely simplest broth with no adulteration, cover your bones with water, bring to a gentle boil then simmer, simmer and simmer some more. Chicken is the most neutrally flavoured so is most versatile for use in lots of styles of cooking. We love the hearty and distinctive tang of lamb or the old-fashioned feel-good factor of beef and venison.
To ensure greater depth of flavour, you can roast your bones in a medium oven for an hour before simmering – this adds a savoury caramelised note. To create a more complex broth, add root veg (onion, leeks and carrot are the faves; experiment with fennel and garlic for some real punch) or woody herbs. Go easy with the seasoning, though. You can add that later if you need to and an additive-free broth is a good place to start.
Taking it Easy
If making your own isn’t an option, we’ve teamed up with Borough Broth Co. to bring you some really unbeatable broths. They’re lovingly and expertly made using all-organic ingredients, British spring water and plenty of time. The depth of flavour is unbeatable (their secret process really gets every drop of taste and goodness from the bones) and you can be assured that there’s nothing funny going on here – no additives, flavourings or preservatives.
Try chicken, beef or lamb broths from Borough Broth Company, or grab one of our broth boxes to make sure your freezer’s well stocked (excuse the pun) at all times.