Bone Broth and Meat Cooking Rules
THE MEAT OF THE MATTER
You may have heard me rave at some point about the exploits of Mongolian horsemen or the rigorous training of the Spartans.
History was always my favorite subject in school and something I still voraciously consume from books, audio books or my favorite podcast “Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History.”
I’m fascinated with the wisdom of the ancients. My passion for history often intersects with my passion for health, fitness and movement. There’s much to be learned from the way our ancestors maintained, healed their bodies and prepared themselves for the physical requirements of their lifestyle.
The Romans wrote military field guides instructing their soldiers on how to eat, rest and maintain their bodies in order endure long marches and maintain battle readiness.
Ancient Greek city-states (notably Sparta and Athens) had multiple gymneopedia’s (gyms) with trainers and massage therapists dedicated to the arts of movement and fitness for the purpose of general health, sport, and skill in battle.
Ancient Eastern cultures like the Mongols, Chinese, Japanese and Indians have passed down complex physical (and spiritual) training systems commonly referred to as Martial Arts or Yoga. These disciplines improve mobility, strength, endurance, resilience, longevity and freedom from disease.
One lamentable outcome of modern efficiency and our throwaway lifestyle is that we use so little of the animals we eat. Our ancestors used every part of the animal, eating meat on the bone, organ meats and using everything that was leftover (particularly the bony parts) for preparing stocks and broths. Organ meats and stocks are found universally in traditional cuisines - French, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, African, South American, Middle Eastern, and Russian, but have almost completely disappeared in the American diet.
This week I’m going to focus on the importance of meat and fish stocks, aka “bone broth,” and share some rules for cooking meat to ensure you get the most nutritional benefit.
The only thing you’ll need to start enjoying the regenerative and anti-aging benefits of bone broth is something for slow cooking like a crockpot or stockpot.
Properly prepared meat stocks are a true super-food in every sense of the term. They contain the minerals of bone, cartilage, marrow and vegetables as electrolytes in a form that’s easy to assimilate.
Normally, we aren’t able to assimilate all the minerals locked in matrices that make up the bones and connective tissue of the animals we eat. Even if you could chew up the bones and tissue it wouldn’t be in a form your body could use, but cooking them slowly in water with apple cider vinegar or acidic wine unlocks the mineral matrix, particularly calcium, magnesium, and potassium, and releases it into the broth for our great benefit.
Remember when we talked about the importance of minerals for optimum sleep and recovery? Here’s yet another way to load up! Consider bone broth the ultimate workout recovery beverage.
Fish stocks made using the carcasses and heads of fish are especially rich in minerals including all-important iodine. Stocks made from the heads and thyroid glands supply natural thyroid hormone and other substances that nourish the thyroid gland. Four thousand years ago, Chinese medicine was using thyroid glands from animals to rejuvenate aging patients. Some research suggests that at least 40 percent of Americans suffer from a deficiency of the thyroid gland with the accompanying symptoms of fatigue, weight gain, frequent colds/flu, and difficulty concentrating.
Dr. Francis Pottenger pointed out that the hydrophilic properties of gelatin in broth are also a massive benefit for digestion and body maintenance. A hydrophilic compound it means it attracts liquid. Raw food compounds tend to be hydrophilic, thus when we eat salads and other raw food, the hydrophilic colloids attract digestive juices for rapid and effective digestion.
This is why I recommend every meal begin with some raw food to stimulate digestive juices in preparation for any cooked foods to come, which tend to be hydrophobic - they repel liquids, making cooked foods generally harder to digest. However, the proteinaceous gelatin in broths is hydrophilic (attracts water) even after it’s been heated. It’s the same property by which gelatin attracts water to form desserts. In addition to being a digestive aid, gelatin also acts as a protein-sparer, allowing the body to more fully utilize the complete proteins that are taken in. Gelatin only contains the amino acids arginine and glycine in large amounts so it isn’t a complete protein, but it’s still very beneficial, especially for those who can’t afford large amounts of meat in their diet.
COLLAGEN MAKES US FOREVER YOUNG
When we think about someone who has aged well, one of the first things that come to mind is young, healthy skin. The next thing we think about is their fitness level, their ability to move and exert their physicality relative to their age. Healthy collagen is the key to ageless skin, joints and connective tissue. Research shows that people with poor collagen age faster and experience more injuries throughout their lives.
Collagens are a family of extra-cellular proteins that give skin and connective tissue its elastic ability to move, stretch, and rebound into shape. Thin wisps of tough, elastic collagen molecules run between adjacent cells in the outermost layer of skin (epidermis), while larger bundles form strips that weave together in a continuous layer beneath (the dermis). Large bundles of collagen form ligaments and tendons surrounding your joints that hold your skeleton together. It’s the most prevalent kind of protein in your body, making up about 15 percent of our dry weight, and without it we would literally disintegrate into small piles of individual cells.
Collagens are made from raw materials you must eat, however, they’re highly sensitive to metabolic imbalances because of the incredible level of complexity that’s required to make them.
EATING THE RAW MATERIALS NECESSARY FOR COLLAGEN FORMATION WHILE AVOIDING PRO-INFLAMMATORY FOODS THAT DISRUPT THE PROCESS IS THE NAME OF THE GAME.
If any one of the thousand steps involved in the making of collagen is disrupted the integrity of the finished product is compromised and may break down prematurely.
Sugar, for example, acts as an abrasive in the joints. If you eat pro-inflammatory foods, small frays and tears in the collagen tissue interferes with proper healing.
Instead of waking up feeling recovered you’ll wake up with stiff joints and more soreness. Your scars and stretch marks will be more obvious, too, because inflammation disrupts the collagen fibers so that the tissue heals in irregular patterns, deep pits or lumpy mounds, rather than in smooth patterns that run along the grain of the rest of the surrounding tissue.
Not surprisingly the best way to heal collagen is to eat some.
Eating bone broths and meat prepared properly according to the cooking rules below floods your bloodstream with a family of molecules called glycosaminoglycans, which are the building blocks of collagen.
You’ll recognize the three most famous members of this family: glucosamine, chondroiton sulfate, and hyaluronic acid from joint health supplements, but these processed supplements don’t come close to the effectiveness of bone broths which include the entire extended family of joint-building molecules.
Glycoaminoglycans travel directly to the parts of the body that need collagen most. They naturally adhere to collagen anywhere in the body, moistening dry skin, helping your tendons and ligaments stay supple, and generally making you look and feel younger. Like gelatin, they’re also hydrophilic, attracting up to 1000 times their own weight, which coats your joints in a protective layer of super-lubricating fluid.
Collagen is also important for maintaining healthy fat cells. It’s a misconception that cellulite comes from having too much body fat. Excess fat is only a small part of the problem. Lumpy, irregular cellulite forms in fat deposits that lack adequate connective tissue struts to support a smooth shape. Cellulite is literally fat inside the cell bubbling, bursting and poking out of the fat cell membranes in irregular patterns creating what we see on the outside because of poor collagen health. The best way to get rid of cellulite is to combine exercise with a diet full of healthy, natural fats like I described in Week 5 and collagen-rich bone broth.
Hopefully by this point, you’re convinced. Now it’s time to put what you know into practice.
The following is a simple Beef Stock recipe to get your started.
You can also start adding collagen protein to your daily/post-workout shakes. Great Lakes Collagen Hydrolysate is a great product at a great price.
BEEF STOCK RECIPE FROM NOURISHING TRADITIONS BY SALLY FALLON
Around 4 lbs. beef bone marrow and knuckle bones (available at any butcher)
1 calves foot, cut into pieces and/or 2-3 lbs of meaty rib and neck bones (optional)
4 or more quarts of cold filtered water
½ cup Unpasteurized Apple Cider Vinegar (personal choice is Bragg’s)
3 onions, coarsely chopped
3 carrots, coarsely chopped
3 celery sticks, coarsely chopped
Several sprigs of fresh thyme, tied together
1 teaspoon dried peppercorns, crushed
1 bunch parsley
Good beef stock should be made with at least a couple kinds of bones. Knuckles and feet impart large quantities of gelatin; marrow bones impart flavor and all the amazing nutrients of bone marrow; and meaty rib or neck bones add color and flavor.
Place the knuckle, marrow bones and foot (optional) in a very large pot with the apple cider vinegar and cover with water. Let stand for 30-60 minutes.
Meanwhile, place the optional meaty bones in a roasting pan and brown at 350 degrees in the oven.
When well browned add them to the pot along with the vegetables.
Pour the fat out of the roasting pan, add cold water to the pan, and bring to a boil, stirring it with a wooden spoon to break up the coagulated juices.
Add this liquid to the pot. Add additional water if necessary, to cover the bones.
Leave an inch of room between the top of the water and brim of the pot to allow for the volume to expand during cooking. Bring to a boil.
A large amount of scum will come to the top. Remove the scum with a spoon.
After you’ve skimmed, reduce heat and add thyme and peppercorns.
Simmer stock for at least 12 and as long as 72 hours. Just before finishing, add parsley and simmer another 10 minutes.
You’ll now have a brown liquid containing globs of gelatinous and fatty material that may not even smell very good. Don’t worry; you’re on the right track.
Remove bone with tongs or slotted spoon.
Set the marrow bones aside. Spoon the marrow out from the bone to eat by itself or to add to another recipe.
Strain the stock into a large bowl. Let cool in the refrigerator and remove the congealed fat that rises to the top.
Transfer what’s left into smaller containers like mason jars or even zip locks bags for later. You can put it in the freezer for long term storage.
Note: Your dogs will love the leftover meat and bones. The congealed fat can be used to make pemmican or put outside to feed the birds.
Variation: Lamb Stock - Use lamb bones and knuckles to make a delicious stock.
MEAT COOKING RULES FROM DEEP NUTRITION BY DR. CATHERINE SHANAHAN
Eat meat on the bone. When cooking meat the more everything stays together - fat, bone, marrow, skin, and other connective tissue - the better.
Don’t overcook it. Overcooked meat is tough because the fat, protein, and sugar molecules have gotten tangled and fused together. Many of the nutrients are destroyed and the result is a tissue polymer that requires more work to cut with a knife, chew and digest.
Use moisture, time and parts. At gentle heating temperatures, water molecules act like miniature hacksaws, neatly chopping the long, tough strands of protein apart, gently tenderizing the tissue. They also break apart connective tissue in skin, ligaments, tendons, cartilage and even bone to release those glycosaminoglycans that are so important to collagen health. Moisture also prevents nearby strands from fusing together.
Use the fat.
- It’s a source of energy that unlike sugar doesn’t spike insulin.
- It’s the major building material for our cells.
- We need fat to absorb fat-soluble nutrients, including vitamins A, D, E, and K.
- The presence of fat in meat protects it during cooking.
- Fat from grass-fed cows is high in anti-inflammatory omega 3 fats.
- Most importantly, it taste SO DELICIOUS!!!
I know this is a lot to “digest” but this is knowledge that will take your personal wellness to the next level.
Take the time to invest in yourself. Make your own bone broth, enjoy the fruits of your labor and feel the primal power within. You’ll be ready to claim victory of the field of battle. Just like our ancient ancestors did.