Written by Mary Brown Malouf | Photos by Adam Finkle

couple of years ago, the news was full of the alleged near-miraculous health benefits of “bone broth.” Celebrities on both coasts had replaced their morning designer coffee fix with a cup of bone broth.

I read article after article and recipe after recipe for “bone broth,” but I couldn’t really see the difference between it and the beef/veal stock Julia Child taught me how to make in Mastering the Art of French Cooking, except you cook stock about 5 hours and you cook bone broth up to twice that long. The longer cooking time extracts more collagen that converts to gelatin, which makes wrinkles and aches caused by aging to disappear. Not really.

But having long-simmered beef stock/bone broth on hand is the foundation of making delicious food quickly. It adds depth of flavor, protein, umami and, yes, collagen if you want it, to all kinds of dishes.

Basic Beef Stock Recipe

3-4 pounds of meaty beef bones (veal bones, if you want a more delicate veal stock)

3 carrots, washed and broken in pieces

2 medium onions, peeled and cut in chunks

3 stalks celery with leaves, washed and broken in pieces

2 leeks, cleaned and cut into chunks

1 sprig thyme

2 bay leaves

2 cloves garlic

8 peppercorns

Place the bones on a baking sheet, sprinkle them with 1 tsp. sugar and brown them in a 450 degree oven, turning them several times, until they are really brown. Put the bones and scrapings from baking sheet (deglazed with water) in a stockpot, and cover with cold water. Bring to a simmer—not a boil—and skim the scum for about 5-10 minutes.

Add the remaining ingredients to the pot and put in cold water to cover by about 2 inches. Bring to a simmer, not a boil, and skim as needed. Partially cover the pot, turn heat to low and simmer for 4 to 5 hours. If water gets too low, add more to the pot.

Turn off the heat and let the stock come to room temperature. Strain the broth, discard the solids and put the stock in the refrigerator until the fat solidifies and rises to the top. Skim and discard the fat.

Note the recipe does not call for salt. Stock is one ingredient; salt is another. You’ll add seasoning in the final soup, sauce, stew or whatever you’re preparing with the stock.

Liquid Asset

• Cook pasta, rice or other grains in stock instead of water.

• Use stock as the braising liquid when making stew or pot roast.

• Cook potatoes in stock instead of water before mashing.

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