bangin beef bone broth (with accoutrements)
Every one of us is broken; what matters more is how we choose to deal with the brokenness. I thought of this while sitting in the waiting room of an urgent care the other week, with a familiar pain throbbing in my leg, and an inkling deep down that I already knew what was coming. Oh, a stress fracture? Thanks doc, real cool! Yet instead of spiraling into a state of panic mixed with a deep, gutting sense of despair as I had so many times in the past, I went to the grocery store later that day and bought all the things I needed to make bone broth. I spent the weekend in full-on "heal thyself" mode, actually allowing myself to rest, and all the while gaining some perspective. It's hard not to dive into the self-pity pool when the breaks happen. Yet then things heal, and you realize the breaks are not setbacks, but opportunities––tiny cracks just waiting to be filled with self-acceptance, gratitude, and compassion.
This bone broth is pure comfort (and healing!) in a bowl, inspired by this crazy soup my dad used to make, where a magical pot of richly complex broth slow-simmered on the stove for the entirety of a Saturday, and became the vehicle for whatever else we felt like throwing in it (mainly meatballs).
For the broth:
• 2 lbs. beef bones (or a combination of beef and pork if you're feeling wild)
• 32 oz. good-quality chicken stock
• 2 medium carrots, washed, unpeeled, and broken in half
• 1 large onion, chopped into chunks
• 4-5 garlic cloves
• 3-inch piece of fresh ginger root, washed, unpeeled, and chopped into large chunks
• 5 whole star anise
• 2 tbsp. gluten-free tamari
• salt, to taste
• filtered water
For the meatballs:
• 2 lbs. grass-fed beef
• 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
• a handful of finely chopped fresh cilantro
• small handful of finely chopped green onions
• 2 tbsp. gluten-free tamari
Possible accoutrements (YOU DO YOU):
• Steamed broccoli
• Spiralized carrots and zucchini, steamed or quickly stir-fried
• Rice noodles
• Cooked rice
• Bean sprouts
• Chopped fresh cilantro
• Chopped green onions
• Lime wedges
• Thinly sliced jalapeno peppers
Make the broth. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Place the raw bones on a parchment-lined baking sheet, and roast in the hot oven for 20-25 minutes until bones are dark in color, and some excess fat has rendered off. Add the bones to a large stockpot, along with the remaining ingredients, except the salt. Pour in enough filtered water to fully cover all the bones, and bring to a boil on the stovetop over high heat. Reduce heat to medium to keep the broth at a gentle boil, and cook for 25-30 minutes more, using a slotted spoon or broth skimmer to skim off the cloudy foam that rises to the top (you are removing the impurities and fatty bits to improve the taste and texture).
Reduce heat to low, cover the pot with a lid, and continue to cook the broth for 8-15 hours more, checking it occasionally to ensure its maintaining a very gentle simmer. I often leave mine going overnight.
Drain the finished broth through a fine mesh sieve, transfer to a large bowl, and refrigerate until ready to use. A solid layer of fat will form on the top of the chilled broth, which you'll want to carefully remove.
Make the meatballs. Gently mix together all ingredients using your hands, then roll into loose little meatballs (1-2" in diameter). Place on a cookie sheet, and bake in a preheated 400° F oven for 10-15 minutes just until browned. Place under the broiler for 1-3 minutes more, then remove from the oven and get ready to serve.
When ready to serve, re-heat the broth on the stovetop until very hot/almost boiling. Taste the broth while it's reheating and add more salt to your liking. Fill bowls with meatballs, noodles, and veggies and pour the hot broth over. Add additional accoutrements to your liking. Sip, slurp, savor, and enjoy.