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The article is written by Sally Fallon Morell and Mary Enig, PhD. The video was prepared by Sarah Pope, The Healthy Home Economist, Chapter Leader and Board Member for The Weston A. Price Foundation. The recipes are also provided by Sally Fallon Morell.
A lamentable outcome of our modern meat processing techniques and our hurry-up, throwaway lifestyle has been a decline in the use of meat, chicken and fish stocks. In days gone by, when the butcher sold meat on the bone rather than as individual filets and whole chickens rather than boneless breasts, our thrifty ancestors made use of every part of the animal by preparing stock, broth or bouillon from the bony portions.
Meat and fish stocks are used almost universally in traditional cuisines—French, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, African, South American, Middle Eastern and Russian; but the use of homemade meat broths to produce nourishing and flavorful soups and sauces has almost completely disappeared from the American culinary tradition.
Properly prepared, meat stocks are extremely nutritious, containing the minerals of bone, cartilage, marrow and vegetables as electrolytes, a form that is easy to assimilate. Acidic wine or vinegar added during cooking helps to draw minerals, particularly calcium, magnesium and potassium, into the broth. Dr. Francis Pottenger, author of the famous cat studies as well as articles on the benefits of gelatin in broth, taught that the stockpot was the most important piece of equipment to have in one’s kitchen.
The public is generally unaware of the large amount of research on the beneficial effects of gelatin taken with food. Gelatin acts first and foremost as an aid to digestion and has been used successfully in the treatment of many intestinal disorders, including hyperacidity, colitis and Crohn’s disease. Although gelatin is by no means a complete protein, containing only the amino acids arginine and glycine in large amounts, it acts as a protein sparer, allowing the body to more fully utilize the complete proteins that are taken in. Thus, gelatin-rich broths are a must for those who cannot afford large amounts of meat in their diets. Gelatin also seems to be of use in the treatment of many chronic disorders, including anemia and other diseases of the blood, diabetes, muscular dystrophy and even cancer.
Other important ingredients that go into broth are the components of cartilage, which recently have been used with remarkable results in the treatment of cancer and bone disorders, and of collagen, used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and other ailments.
In folk wisdom, rich chicken broth—the famous Jewish penicillin—is a valued remedy for the flu. The 12th-century physician Moses Maimonides prescribed chicken broth as a treatment for colds and asthma. Modern research has confirmed that broth helps prevent and mitigate infectious diseases. The wise food provider, who uses gelatin-rich broth on a daily or frequent basis, provides continuous protection from many health problems.
Another traditional belief is that fish head broth contributes to virility. Fish stock, made from the carcasses and heads of fish, is especially rich in minerals including all-important iodine. Even more important, stock made from the heads, and therefore the thyroid glands of the fish, supplies thyroid hormone and other substances that nourish the thyroid gland. Four thousand years ago, Chinese doctors rejuvenated aging patients with a soup made from the thyroid glands of animals. According to ancient texts, this treatment helped patients feel younger, gave them more energy and often restored mental abilities. During the reign of Queen Victoria, prominent London physicians prescribed special raw thyroid sandwiches to failing patients. Very few of us could eat such fare with relish, but soups and sauces made from fish broth are absolutely delicious—a remedy that no convalescent could refuse. According to some researchers, at least 40% of all Americans suffer from a deficiency of the thyroid gland with its accompanying symptoms of fatigue, weight gain, frequent colds and flu, inability to concentrate, depression and a host of more serious complications like heart disease and cancer. We would do well do imitate our brothers from the Mediterranean and Asian regions by including fish broth in the diet as often as possible.
The wonderful thing about fish and meat stocks is that, along with conferring many health benefits, they also add immeasurably to the flavor of our food. In European cuisines, rich stocks form the basis of those exquisite, clear, thick, smooth, satisfying and beautifully flavored sauces that seem to be produced by magic. The magic is in the stock, made from scratch with as much care and attention to detail as the final dish. Those who have had the privilege of visiting the kitchens of fine restaurants in France have observed pots of pale broth simmering on the back burners of huge cookstoves. When this insipid-looking liquid is enriched with herbs or wine and reduced by boiling down, the effects of the gelatin and flavors of meat and bone become concentrated. The result is a wonderful sauce, both nutritious and delicious. It is worth taking time and putting effort into making meat stocks on a regular basis. Your family will gain innumerable health benefits, and you will earn a reputation of an excellent cook.
The test of whether your stock contains liberal amounts of gelatin is carried out by chilling the broth. It should thicken, even to the point of jelling completely, when refrigerated. If your broth is still runny when chilled, you may add a little powdered gelatin (see Sources) to thicken it. Bear in mind, however, that some people have reactions to commercially prepared gelatin, which will contain small amounts of free glutamic acid, similar to MSG. Your stock will also thicken more when it is reduced by boiling down.
Stock can be made in bulk and stored until needed. Clear stock will keep about five days in the refrigerator, longer if reboiled, and several months in the freezer. You may find it useful to store stock in pint-sized or quart-sized containers in order to have appropriate amounts on hand for sauces and stews. If space is at a premium in your freezer, you can reduce the stock by boiling down for several hours until it becomes very concentrated and syrupy. This reduced, concentrated stock—called fumée or demi-glace—can be stored in small containers or zip-lock bags. Frozen fumée in zip-lock bags is easily thawed by putting the bags under hot running water. Add water to thawed fumée to turn it back into stock. Be sure to mark the kind of stock or fumée you are storing with little stick-on labels—they all look alike when frozen.
Copyright: From: Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats by Sally Fallon with Mary G. Enig, PhD. Copyright © 1999. All Rights Reserved.
Stocks and Soups
- 1 whole free-range chicken or 2 to 3 pounds of bony chicken parts, such as necks, backs, breastbones and wings* gizzards from one chicken (optional)
- 2-4 chicken feet (optional)
- 4 quarts cold filtered water
- 2 tablespoons vinegar
- 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
- 2 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
- 3 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
- 1 bunch parsley
*Note: Farm-raised, free-range chickens give the best results. Many battery-raised chickens will not produce stock that gels.
If you are using a whole chicken, cut off the wings and remove the neck, fat glands and the gizzards from the cavity. Cut chicken parts into several pieces. (If you are using a whole chicken, remove the neck and wings and cut them into several pieces.) Place chicken or chicken pieces in a large stainless steel pot with water, vinegar and all vegetables except parsley. Let stand 30 minutes to 1 hour. Bring to a boil, and remove scum that rises to the top. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 6 to 8 hours. The longer you cook the stock, the richer and more flavorful it will be. About 10 minutes before finishing the stock, add parsley. This will impart additional mineral ions to the broth.
Remove whole chicken or pieces with a slotted spoon. If you are using a whole chicken, let cool and remove chicken meat from the carcass. Reserve for other uses, such as chicken salads, enchiladas, sandwiches or curries. Strain the stock into a large bowl and reserve in your refrigerator until the fat rises to the top and congeals. Skim off this fat and reserve the stock in covered containers in your refrigerator or freezer.
- about 4 pounds beef marrow and knuckle bones
- 1 calves foot, cut into pieces (optional)
- 3 pounds meaty rib or neck bones
- 4 or more quarts cold filtered water
- 1/2 cup vinegar
- 3 onions, coarsely chopped
- 3 carrots, coarsely chopped
- 3 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
- several sprigs of fresh thyme, tied together
- 1 teaspoon dried green peppercorns, crushed
- l bunch parsley
Place the knuckle and marrow bones and optional calves foot in a very large pot with vinegar and cover with water. Let stand for one hour. Meanwhile, place the meaty bones in a roasting pan and brown at 350 degrees in the oven. When well browned, add to the pot along with the vegetables. Pour the fat out of the roasting pan, add cold water to the pan, set over a high flame and bring to a boil, stirring with a wooden spoon to loosen up coagulated juices. Add this liquid to the pot. Add additional water, if necessary, to cover the bones; but the liquid should come no higher than within one inch of the rim of the pot, as the volume expands slightly during cooking. Bring to a boil. A large amount of scum will come to the top, and it is important to remove this with a spoon. After you have skimmed, reduce heat and add the thyme and crushed peppercorns.
Simmer stock for at least 12 and as long as 72 hours. Just before finishing, add the parsley and simmer another 10 minutes. You will now have a pot of rather repulsive-looking brown liquid containing globs of gelatinous and fatty material. It doesn’t even smell particularly good. But don’t despair. After straining you will have a delicious and nourishing clear broth that forms the basis for many other recipes in this book.
Remove bones with tongs or a slotted spoon. Strain the stock into a large bowl. Let cool in the refrigerator and remove the congealed fat that rises to the top. Transfer to smaller containers and to the freezer for long-term storage.
- 3 or 4 whole carcasses, including heads, of non-oily fish such as sole, turbot, rockfish or snapper
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 onions, coarsely chopped
- 1 carrot, coarsely chopped
- several sprigs fresh thyme
- several sprigs parsley
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 cup dry white wine or vermouth
- 1/4 cup vinegar
- about 3 quarts cold filtered water
Ideally, fish stock is made from the bones of sole or turbot. In Europe, you can buy these fish on the bone. The fish monger skins and filets the fish for you, giving you the filets for your evening meal and the bones for making the stock and final sauce. Unfortunately, in America sole arrives at the fish market preboned. But snapper, rock fish and other non-oily fish work equally well; and a good fish merchant will save the carcasses for you if you ask him. As he normally throws these carcasses away, he shouldn’t charge you for them. Be sure to take the heads as well as the body—these are especially rich in iodine and fat-soluble vitamins. Classic cooking texts advise against using oily fish such as salmon for making broth, probably because highly unsaturated fish oils become rancid during the long cooking process.
Melt butter in a large stainless steel pot. Add the vegetables and cook very gently, about 1/2 hour, until they are soft. Add wine and bring to a boil. Add the fish carcasses and cover with cold, filtered water. Add vinegar. Bring to a boil and skim off the scum and impurities as they rise to the top. Tie herbs together and add to the pot. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for at least 4 hours or as long as 24 hours. Remove carcasses with tongs or a slotted spoon and strain the liquid into pint-sized storage containers for refrigerator or freezer. Chill well in the refrigerator and remove any congealed fat before transferring to the freezer for long-term storage.
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