Trust me, this stuff tastes way better than it photographs.
Bone broth is pretty buzzy these days, touted as a magical elixer by Paleo adherents and many others. I haven't been to any butcher shop this year without seeing pints of it in the refrigerator case, and certain soup brands have started selling it in smaller cartons with the new, trendy label. But this is one bandwagon I'm happy to jump on.
For one thing, it's the ultimate comfort food in the middle of winter, which has been colder and rainier (yay!) this year in SF thanks to El Nino. It's also crazy delicious, which you already knew if you've ever had a homemade chicken soup or any other kind of homemade stock. Because, actually, bone broth isn't anything new, although you might be forgiven for thinking it's some exciting discovery. It's the same meat stock we've all been eating and drinking forever, just dressed up with a trendy name to go with new supposed health benefits (some might be true, I'm not a scientist so I'm not claiming any) or to be better sold out of tiny storefronts.
You could buy it from any number of sources, but if you've got a slow cooker in your kitchen, it's insanely easy to make at home, and a lot cheaper. Add bones (or meat cuts with bones), aromatics, and seasonings to the slow cooker, cover with water, and basically forget about it for a day. I'm not really sure how it gets any easier.
I chose to roughly follow the method of how I usually make broth out of leftover roasted chicken, since it's easy, and from looking at some other sources, seemed to be a fairly standard bone broth process. I made my broth with oxtail, since it has both meat and bone but is also collagen-rich. This means the broth is full of nutrients, but also that once it cools, the broth takes on the appearance of what can only be described as meat jell-o. It isn't pretty, but trust me, it's a good thing! I added simple aromatics, like some onion, carrot, and bay leaf. Apple cider vinegar is also there for a little bit of brightness, and also to help leech minerals out of the bones. That just sounds so appetizing, right? I mean, just look at the finished product!
Or maybe don't.
I promise, once you skim off a layer of fat and heat it back up, this stuff is nothing like jell-o. It's just perfect, soul-warming goodness on a winter day.
Slow Cooker Oxtail Broth
2 lbs oxtail, cut into pieces
1 large carrot, cut into half moons
1 large stalk celery, sliced
1 small onion, diced
3 or 4 garlic cloves, smashed
1 bay leaf
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tbs apple cider vinegar
2 qts water
- In the crock of a slow-cooker, add all ingredients and cover with water. Cook on low for at least 10 hours, up to 12.
- After 10 hours, broth should be dark and rich and meat should be falling off of the bones. Strain broth into a large bowl. Separate the meat and save for another use.
- At this point, you can pour some broth into a mug or bowl and drink immediately, or cool to room temperature before refrigerating or freezing for future use, or use right away as a base for soups or in other dishes where broth is used.
- If you want to remove some of the fat, refrigerate overnight and scrape off the solid layer of fat that collects on top.
- I used simple aromatics in this version, but you can pep it up with more vibrant flavors, like lemongrass, ginger, dried chiles, etc.
- When drinking this broth, I like to add a little flaky sea salt and a generous splash of apple cider vinegar.