Ah, bone broth. There is little else that is as comforting on a chilly day, let alone anything with as many health benefits. Foodies and health nuts alike rave over this simple liquid that takes very little effort to prepare, yet tastes fantastic while strengthening your joints and connective tissues, fortifying your hair and nails, and reducing systemic inflammation.
The main ingredients is bones (duh). Any bones - chicken, beef, lamb, fish, game, whatever. Some butchers sell bones expressly for this purpose - if you see them, pick up some beef knuckles or marrow bones. If your butcher looks at you funny, buy a bone-in roast or a whole chicken and use that instead. Roast it as usual, then eat the meat for dinner and save the bone for broth. Don't be tempted to just throw the whole roast in the pot - the meat will taste better roasted, and it's unnecessary for the broth.
Prepare the Bones
If you're starting with raw bones, roast them until browned for the best flavor. If you're using bones from a previous roast, you can skip the additional roasting. Smaller bones like chicken and fish do fine as they are, but bigger bones like beef knuckle should be cracked open with a mallet to release the marrow. If you're using marrow bones, this has already been done for you. Just toss 'em in.
Fill the Pot
Toss your bones in a big stock pot and add water to about three inches above the level of the bones. Add a splash of apple cider vinegar to help leach the minerals out of the bones and into your broth. Toss some veggies in there if you like - onions, carrots, celery and leeks are common, but don't worry about chopping - just throw them in whole. Add some spices if you're feeling creative - peppercorns, fresh rosemary, fresh thyme and parsley are all great additions. All that said, bones and water are all you really need for a delicious broth.
Simmer, Simmer, Simmer
Bring the broth to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer. And simmer. And simmer. Like, for 24-36 hours. Simmer it until the bones fall apart when you poke them. The thicker the bones, the longer this will take. Add water if necessary to keep the water level above the level of the bones. Once the bones fall apart, strain the broth to remove the solids, return the liquid to the pot, and reduce it down until thick. If you're planning to drink it, you may prefer to keep a thinner consistency. If you're planning to cook with it only, reduce it way down to get a concentrated stock. Refrigerate for a few hours and check the consistency - if it feels almost like jello, you have a high quality bone broth - all that gelatin and fat will cure what ails ya, and don't worry, it liquifies again when heated.
The Stockpot Tradition
If you use a lot of bone broth, you may want to consider the bottomless stockpot. Just keep a large pot on a back burner, simmering at all times. Toss bones in there as you come across them, but also throw in vegetable ends, leftover pieces of meat, and whatever else you have on hand. Keep the water level topped off. When you need some broth, just ladle it out as needed and refill the water. This way, you always have a working batch of broth, and you end up throwing away much less food. To stock up on concentrated stock, simply ladle out about half of the broth and reduce it in another pot, refilling the stockpot with water as needed.