Thanksgiving will provide a lot of us with an opportunity not to be missed — homemade bone broth. I’ll leave the health claims to the experts, but there’s no denying you can’t buy anything like it in a can and it’s so simple. Save bones from ribs, pork chops, steaks, roasts, and chicken, even rotisserie chicken from the deli. Just stockpile them in your freezer till you have enough to cook a batch. One turkey will be enough, maybe even too much for one batch. This is a job for your slow cooker or instant pot. You can chop all the vegetables any time during the day, literally a 10-minute job, toss in the bones (skin too, especially if you’re lucky enough to score a smoked bird) and refrigerate till evening. Add the water when you’re ready to start the cooker and let it cook on high for 12 hours. In the morning drain the liquid off, discard the solids, and refrigerate the stock for a few hours. You can then scoop off any hardened fat and divide the stock into containers for freezing. I like to divide it into quart, 2-cup, and 1-cup containers. An ice cube tray is also a handy way to freeze small quantities for recipes that only need a few tablespoons of stock. I always add a dried cayenne or chile pepper to the crockpot. It doesn’t add noticeable heat but it does add a nice layer of flavor. Save the salt for your final recipe. It’s not necessary here unless you’ll be drinking the broth straight up. Even then it’s best to season to taste after it’s cooked, drained, and defatted.
— Joan, 18 November 2015
Makes about 9 cups
bones and skin from one turkey or two small chickens
3 carrots, scrubbed and cut into large pieces
3 celery stalks, cut into large pieces (this is a great place to use up the leaves)
1 large onion, cut into large pieces
5 sprigs fresh thyme, or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 bay leaves
1 heaping Tablespoon peppercorns
3 large cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1 dried cayenne or small chile pepper, whole
3 quarts water
Place all of the above ingredients in a large (at least 6 quarts) slow cooker. The water should cover everything — add more or less as needed. Cover and cook on high for at least 12 hours. Drain the liquid off through a colander or strainer and discard the solids. There are a couple of ways to defat. Either buy one of these handy little gadgets or refrigerate the liquid for a few hours, until the fat rises to the top and hardens. Scoop the fat off and warm the liquid enough to pour. Pour through a fine sieve into containers for freezing. (The liquid may have gelatinized if it’s been refrigerated long enough. That’s normal, a result of the bone marrow released during the long cooking. The gelatin liquefies when reheated.) Update 8/12/19: Make this in an instant pot. Set the manual timer for 60 minutes. Let steam release naturally.
And that’s it! You’re all set to make great soups and stews, or gift it to someone whose cooking time is limited. Just ask for a little bit of whatever they make with it.