Superfood alert: Bone broth
It’s time to add pork ribs to your morning cuppa
The new takeaway cups accompanying New Yorkers to work seem to have fewer scribbles with misspelt names. The city’s standard morning drink — a highly caffeinated Starbucks brew (or a coolly artisanal blend) — has now found a new, gluten-free challenger. Last November, James Beard award-winner Marco Canora opened the single-window Brodo, which serves customers the miracle potion that, he claims, delivered him from the chokehold of nicotine, alcohol and stress — a simmering cup of bone broth. In a piece for food blog VICE Munchies, Canora explained how the comfort drink gave him “energy without the jitters or crash” from caffeine, and motivated him to create on-the-go concoctions for fellow New Yorkers, in turkey, chicken and beef flavours. Bone broth, which tastes and looks much like gelatinous soup, is essentially animal bones boiled for anywhere between six and 48 hours with customisable garnishing (your favourite veggies, vinegar, ginger juice, even red wine).
Since Brodo opened doors, bone broth — which, naysayers will point out, is just dressed-up animal stock — has become the year’s most promising health drink. It is the new essential in Paleo diets, the magic elixir fuelling NBA stars like Kobe Bryant, reason for defecting juicers and the most popular backstage drink at New York Fashion Week. Bone broth has also found two very active advocates in celebrity food bloggers, the UK-based Hemsley sisters, who aside from inventing a host of bone broth recipes in The Art Of Eating Well, are even marketing hipster-friendly #BoilYourBones totes. “It’s kind of cool seeing the sudden explosion of bone broth around the world,” says Kelvin Cheung, executive chef at Mumbai’s Ellipsis. Despite his doubts about the movement finding as many takers in India, where soups are usually an after-thought, Cheung is happy to include animal broths to his menu: “I have been making it at least once a week, just for myself. Now, I have started adding ramen and Korean pork bone broths to the weekend brunches, just to test them out.”
But why the sudden fixation with this old-as-the-hills practice of boiling bones? This form of frugality in caveman times, dinner staple in the Far East, and every grandma’s cure-all for the ailing is now reaping the benefits of a trendier name. “It’s catching on because ‘bone broth’ sounds nice,” says Gresham Fernandes, group executive chef (fine dine) at Impresario Entertainment and Hospitality. “Personally, I love its minimalist flavour. Broths are easy on your system and a healthier alternative when you’re craving a particular meat.” This is because animal bones — especially joints, knuckles, necks and feet — are rich in collagen, keratin and minerals, promising both medical and cosmetic benefits, which include a healthier gut lining, greater immunity, improved joint functions, radiant skin and shinier hair. For the heart-attack inclined, bone broth is also bringing meat cocktails back in business, like the lamb broth and scotch mix served by LA restaurant Pistola or the Pho-King Champ (vodka, sherry and beef broth) in Dallas’ Midnight Rambler. Yum.
Closer home, the bone broth revolution might be better suited for home kitchens, according to Fernandes, “I’d be happy to serve it, but then I’d have to be on floor all the time explaining to customers why I’m charging them for a simple broth — people want value for money.” It’s down to grandma’s dog-eared recipe book, then.
Know your broth flavours
Chicken feet: Its tendons and cartilage are rich in tissue-building glucosamine and chondroitin.
Beef knuckles: Good for when you have time to spare; can take up to 48 hours to shed nutrients. Prior roasting improves flavour.
Fish heads: Flexitarians can make a seafood broth, using a non-oily fish mixed with crab and shrimp shells.
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