Earth Eats by Annie Corrigan and Daniel Orr (Indiana University Press, 2017) compiles the best recipes, tips, and tricks to plant, harvest, and prepare local food. Written by Earth Eats radio host Annie Corrigan and renowned chef Daniel Orr, this book focuses on local products, sustainability, and popular farm-to-fork dining trends. This profile features Barbara Lehr and her resourceful bone broth.
It’s Friday at Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard in Bloomington, Indiana, and that means Barbara Lehr is preparing a demonstration in the teaching kitchen. On that day, she brought in bags and bags of beef bones.
Barbara’s bone broth is a permanent fixture in her home. “I have a stock pot going all the time,” she says. “Even though that seems like an odd practice, it was the standard practice before the 1930s. Everybody had it. As a matter of fact, I’ve seen an old-fashioned stove that has three burners and one hole. And that hole, you put a stock pot in, and you have perpetual broth going all the time.”
And it’s simple. Barbara’s recipe, for instance, has only three steps:
1. Roast chicken or beef bones. (This gives more dimension to the flavor.)
2. Cover roasted bones in water.
3. Simmer for 24 hours.
The result can be used in a variety of dishes, including sauces, steamed vegetables, stews, rice pilaf, and the squash soup she’s prepared ahead of time.
Michael Hollon is a patron at the food pantry. He came to Barbara’s demonstration today to find a healthier alternative to the typical stocks you find in cookbooks. “All the recipes I’ve found for it always have a bunch of sodium in it, and I can’t have sodium,” Hollon says. “I was trying to figure out whether or not she’d come up with a different way.” Barbara explains that, like any recipe, you can add as much (or as little) seasoning as you’d like.
After preparing it, the broth can be placed in the refrigerator, where the fat rises to the top. Barbara explains that this fat could be reused. “You can take that off the top of your container and then you can use that fat to make soap with. Or you can use it—it’s just pure tallow—you can use it to fry potato chips in.” The broth can last about five days in the refrigerator, six months in the freezer, and about a year if it’s pressure canned. It smells and tastes great, but it may not look that great after it’s refrigerated. The gelatin from the bones makes its consistency a little like jelly when cooled. It’s the collagen that gives chilled bone broth that jelly consistency. “A lot of people will make broth, it’ll gel in the refrigerator, they’ll freak out and think that it has gone bad when it’s actually fantastic,” she adds.
After the demonstration, Michael Hollon, our patron, got a chance to taste that squash soup made with Lehr’s chicken bone broth. “That’s actually pretty good,” he remarks. “You can taste the chicken. What, it’s got basil and oregano? It’s pretty good.” He’s taking home the recipe plus some beef bones to try making bone broth himself.
Those beef bones can be cooked about three times before all of the nutrients are out of them, Lehr says. After that? Give them to your dogs. They’ll love ‘em!
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This excerpt is reprinted with permission from Earth Eats by Annie Corrigan with Daniel Orr, published by Indiana University Press, 2017.