One thing that I always have simmering in my slow cooker is broth.
Bone broth, to be exact.
What is bone broth?
It is very similar to regular broth except that, when cooked this way, all of the nutrients from the bones are put into the broth to be absorbed by you!
Some of these nutrients are:
Another great benefit is that you get a significant amount of collagen from these bones.
Why do we need collagen?
Oh, let me count the ways!
One reason is that it helps our bones break less.
Huh? Isn’t that what calcium is for?
Nope. Calcium helps make our bones stronger.
Collagen helps keep them flexible. Without collagen, our bones would snap under direct pressure.
But – naturally, bone broth contains calcium too!
One more benefit that you should know for now – the yellow fat that chickens have contains a ton of immune boosting properties! I can usually dodge illnesses as they come into our house because I get this each day. Others in my house are not as diligent. They get sick, I keep drinking.
So – if you aren’t yet convinced that you should be drinking some of this goodness everyday, let me explain how easy it is to make.
Here is the method to this madness:
Every week, I cook a whole organic chicken in my slow cooker – typically on Sundays.
1. Cut two onions in half and place them in the pot.
2. Take the pouch out of the inside of the chicken and throw it out.
(Yes, I realize that some of my health conscious friends will be shaking their fists at me for this step but, truthfully, I’m usually in a hurry while assembling and don’t take the time to store it for adding to the broth later)
3. Place the chicken – breast side down! – on top of the onions.
The goal is to make sure the chicken is raised off of the bottom of the pot.
4. Season it with whatever spices you feel like that day.
Sometimes I add a few carrots or potatoes on the side. Often times, it is only the chicken and the onions, though.
5. Put the lid on, set it on HIGH for 4-6 hours or LOW for 8-10 hours – depending on the time of day you put it in – and forget about it until dinner.
6. Once it is ready, I put my husband to work on getting all of the meet off of the bones.
Let me tell you, if you have never cooked chicken in a slow cooker like this, you are missing out! This is the most tender, fall of the bone meat ever!
7. When he has finished, he puts the bones, skin, and any other part that we aren’t going to be eating back into the pot and he keeps it on the WARM setting until I am able to tend to it.
Usually after dinner, or at least before bed, I start the broth. (Do not leave it in for longer than this amount of time or you will get a dark color and stale tasting broth.)
Ready for this?
8. Decide which vegetables you’d like to add for flavor/added nutrition – such as celery, carrots, more onions, etc. Because they aren’t going to be eaten directly, I usually just wash them off and break them into pieces. I rarely get a knife out for this.
9. Once all of the veggies are in, fill it with filtered water all the way to the top – about an inch from the top – and put it on low heat for 24 hours.
I love the mornings that follow this because I always wake up smelling the comforting aroma of chicken noodle soup!
10. After 24 hours are up, you can begin drinking it.
11. Leave it on low (or warm) heat for another 5-7 days. Yes, DAYS!
**Note: this is where you will need to experiment with the temps of your slow cooker. If it is too hot, it will scorch the broth. If it is not hot enough, it can cause bacteria growth. What I usually do is keep it on WARM the whole time except right after I add fresh water (see below), then turn it on LOW heat for 2 hours to help it get back to a hot enough temp.**
How long exactly will depend on how hot your slow cooker gets and how fast the liquid gets absorbed.
How I drink it:
Each day (after the initial 24 hour simmer), I take about 2 cups from the pot and put it in my fat separator (click here for the one I use) and let it work it’s magic. Then, I pour it into a mug, sit down to read or check my email and sip away.
The reason I call it Perpetual Bone Broth is because after I remove the amount I plan to drink, I immediately replace it with the same amount of filtered water. Typically, because I drink about 2 cups a day, this is 2 cups of water back in. This keeps it from running out and the bones continue to have plenty of liquid to simmer in.
How do you know the nutrients have been sufficiently pulled out of the bones?
At the end of the week, the bones will be so soft, they will turn to paste in your hand when you squeeze them. It is pretty neat!
I usually dump it all out into my sink and run the garbage disposal with no problem. The bones are no longer hard.
Try it! It is easy and you’ll love the flavor.
Note: I don’t add salt to the pot while it is cooking. I always wait until it is in my mug to taste it first. More often than not, it is great without the addition of any salt. Sometimes, I add a bit to bring out extra flavors.
What are you waiting for? Go buy a bird and get to cooking!