I start with a roasted whole chicken, enjoying it for dinner one night. After removing any remaining meat from the bones, I use the carcass to make chicken stock, or bone broth. All the bones plus the gelatin in the roaster pan, 3-4 carrots, 3-4 stalks of celery, an onion, green leek tops all go in my stock pot, plus water to cover by 2 inches. I add a cup of dry white wine, a few sprigs of parsley, a couple of bay leaves, a tsp. of whole black peppercorns, and a sprig or two of fresh thyme. Bring it to a boil, then immediately reduce the heat to a gentle simmer, and cook it for 12-24 hours, uncovered. During the first 20 minutes of cooking, I skim the surface of any scum that develops and discard. The flavor develops over time, the acid in the wine leaches the minerals from the bones, and the strained result is liquid gold, nutritious and flavorful. I use it for soups, sauces, and just sipping. Jewish mothers call it Jewish penicillin.
The French use stocks extensively in their traditional recipes, and we used to in the U.S. as well. I’m often asked if stock can be made in a crock pot, and yes, of course it can. It’s just that in my stock pot, I can make a greater quantity. My crock pot might make a couple of quarts, while my stock pot can produce 2-3 gallons, which I package in quart bags to store in the freezer and pull out to make a quick soup on a busy night. I’m a big believer in cooking once to make multiple meals. If I’m roasting chicken, I may as well roast two. If I’m making stock, I may as well use both carcasses. It’s the same 24 hours.
The latest research shows that intestinal bacteria support immune function. A Swedish research study (Abrahamsson et al, Linkoping University) showed that half the babies studied showed signs of allergies (eczema and IgE antibodies). The non-allergic babies had more species of gut bacteria than those with signs of allergies. A study at the University of Tokyo in Japan (Kenya Honda, M.D., PhD) showed that gut bacteria are involved in maintaining normal intestinal barriers. Dr. Honda said that when our gut bacteria are out of balance or damaged we are more likely to develop abnormal immune responses. An Irish study linked gut health to mood and behavior disorders. And an Italian study found abnormal gut permeability–known as leaky gut syndrome–was found in 37% of patients with autism and in 21% of their relatives, whereas it was found in only 5% of normal subjects.
The gelatin in bone broth soothes the intestinal lining and restores an environment that supports the development and maintenance of a variety of beneficial gut bacteria, and thus, good immune function and general good health.