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Dear friends,

For years I put up with men grunting, “Me Tarzan, you Jane,” so maybe it’s fate that I’m going Paleo. Not all-out caveperson nuts-and-berries Paleo, just the broth. Paleo Diet adherents call it “bone broth,” a term that, like Starbucks’ venti-size nonsense, I refuse to use. (Aren’t all beef and chicken broths made from bones?)

Meat broths as a healthful snack were popularized by the Paleo Diet, a low-carb eating plan that basically forbids anything our Paleolithic ancestors wouldn’t have eaten. That right, no Cheese Doodles. The broth component recently spawned the broth restaurant trend, which I sneered at in my Jan. 14 newsletter. Lunch at Panera set me straight.

Panera now sells Broth Bowls, which are far different from the cups of broth peddled by trendy New York restaurants. The cups of broth come plain or garnished with healthful stuff such as few slices of mushrooms or fresh-grated turmeric. My Panera’s broth came in a bowl with about a tablespoon each of lentils and quinoa, some wilted spinach and kale, a few edamame beans, a few squares of red bell pepper and a hard-cooked egg, cut in half. Tony’s version had soba noodles and sliced chicken. The broth was beef, we guessed, and it wasn’t great.

“I could do better than this,” I said. Heck, Howdy Doody could make better broth.

I loved the idea, though:  A meal of whole grains, vitamin-rich veggies and lean protein in enough broth to fill you up. This definitely isn’t soup. The solid stuff is piled in the middle, with the broth taking up most of the bowl.

That evening I began testing recipes for my own broth bowls. Over the space of a week I came up with several variations in not only the grain, veggie and protein components but the broths themselves.

I doctored up canned broth, made classic homemade broth and made Paleo-style broth. The difference between classic and Paleo broths is that in the latter, an acid – typically apple cider vinegar – is added to break down and leach nutrients from the bones; and the bones are simmered for at least 24 hours for the same reason.

Paleo adherents claim the minerals, collagen and amino acids derived from the bones can alleviate everything from arthritis to cellulite. While not the cure-all proponents profess, the long-simmered broth is nutritious.

I made long-simmered chicken broth, classic beef broth and long-simmered beef broth. The homemade broths were, of course, better than the canned. But even my doctored-up canned broth was better than Panera’s and the resulting broth bowls were even more satisfying.

 

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ASIAN BEEF BROTH

• 1 tbsp. oil
• 1 small onion, halved and sliced (about 1 cup)
• 4 cups beef broth, canned or homemade
• A 1-inch piece of ginger, sliced thin
• 1/4 cup Madeira
• 1 tbsp. soy sauce
• 1/4 tsp. sugar
• 1 star anise
• 1 tsp. sesame oil
• Salt to taste

ASIAN BROTH BOWL

• 1 recipe Asian Beef Broth (see above)

Additions:
• 1/2 cup very thinly sliced mushrooms, simmered in broth for 5 minutes before serving. Shave mushrooms on a mandolin if possible.
• 1 cup cooked barley
• 1 cup spinach leaves
• 1 large sweet potato – Peel and cut raw potato into 1-inch cubes. Spread on a greased baking sheet and roast at 400 degrees until tender, about 30 minutes.
• 3 oz. beef sirloin, cut into thin strips and briefly stir-fried OR
• 4 eggs, hard-cooked for 5 minutes
• 1/4 cup edamame beans – Microwave a handful of pods for 1 minute on high power, or until tender. Remove beans from pods.
• 2 green onions, sliced thin

Heat broth, adding mushrooms 5 minutes before serving. Place one-fourth of the barley in each of four medium-sized soup bowls. Divide spinach leaves among bowls, piling on top of barley. Top each with about 3 tablespoons of the roasted sweet potato.
Top with meat strips or hard-cooked eggs, peeled and halved. Ladle broth and mushrooms around ingredients in center of bowls. Scatter edamame beans and green onions over all. Makes 4 servings.

THAI CHICKEN BROTH

• 6 cups chicken broth, canned or homemade
• 4 cloves garlic, smashed
• 4 quarter-size pieces of ginger, smashed
• 4 sprigs cilantro
• 1 tsp. fish sauce
• Peeled (not grated) zest of 1/2 lime
• Salt to taste

Combine all ingredients in a 2-quart saucepan. Cover and slowly simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand 30 minutes longer. Strain. Makes about 5 3/4 cups

THAI BROTH BOWL

• 4 cups Thai chicken broth (see above)

Additions:
• 1/2 cup cooked brown basmati rice
• 16 small leaves of kale, par-boiled in water for 2 minutes or until desired tenderness
• 1 large carrot – Cleaned and cut in wide, paper-thin strips with a vegetable peeler; par boil in water for 2 minutes
• 3 oz. cooked chicken breast, cut in thin slices
• Juice of 1/2 lime
• 4 tsp. crushed peanuts
• 1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Pile the rice, kale, carrot and chicken in the center of 4 medium soup bowls. Ladle about 1 cup of the broth around the ingredients in each bowl. Squeeze some lime juice into each bowl. Top with crushed peanuts and cilantro. Makes 4 servings.

HOMEMADE CHICKEN BROTH

• 3 1/2 lbs. chicken backs, necks, legs, wings, etc.
• 1 onion with skin, halved lengthwise
• 1 large carrot, scrubbed and cut into chunks
• 3 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
• Cold water
• Salt to taste

If a darker broth is desired, roast chicken parts at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, until they begin to brown. Place roasted or raw chicken parts in a large slow cooker. Add onion, carrot, vinegar and cold water to cover. Cover with lid and cook on high power for 1 hour, then turn to low power and simmer for 24 hours.

Uncover and cool to lukewarm. Pour through a strainer into a large bowl. Place strained broth in refrigerator overnight. Remove and discard solidified fat from top of broth. Reheat to use immediately, seasoning to taste with salt, or measure into freezer bags or containers and freeze for later use. Makes about 2 quarts. Broth may be made in a soup pot on the stove according to the beef broth directions that follow.

HOMEMADE BEEF BROTH

• 4 to 6 lbs. beef meat and bones, about half and half (use marrow-rich bones such as ribs, shank and knuckle)
• 1 medium onion, unpeeled, cut vertically in half
• 1 or 2 large carrots, cleaned and cut into chunks
• Salt
• 2 sprigs fresh or dried thyme
• 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

Place beef in a single layer in a roasting pan. Roast at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Transfer to a large stock pot. Deglaze roasting pan with water and add to pot. Add enough additional cold water to cover the meat and bones by at least 1 inch. Add onion, carrots, 1 teaspoon salt, thyme and vinegar. Bring to a boil and remove any scum that floats to the top. Reduce heat to low, cover and barely simmer for 8 hours, adding more water if necessary to keep meat and bones covered.

Remove bones, meat, onion and vegetables from pot with a long-handled strainer or slotted spoon. Save meat for soup. Pour broth through a strainer into a large bowl. Refrigerate until fat solidifies, at least 6 hours. Lift fat from top of broth and discard. Reheat and season to taste with salt to serve immediately, or measure into freezer bags or containers and freeze for later use. Makes about 1 gallon, depending on amount of bones and meat and size of pot. Broth may be made in a large slow cooker with less meat, bones and water.

HELP U COOK

•    Don’t bother peeling the onions you add to the pot when making chicken or beef broth. The onion skin  helps deepen the color of the broth.
•    Chicken broth may be made with uncooked or cooked bones, but browning them in the oven will deepen both the flavor and color of the broth. Likewise, using beef bones browned for as little as 30 minutes in the oven will produce a richer-tasting broth.
•    Chicken broth may be made with mostly bones, but beef broth requires meat for flavor. Use about half as much meat as bones.

THE MAILBAG

From Coondog O’Karma:
I found a recipe for bone broth in Dogs Naturally magazine (http://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/reasons-your-dog-love-bone-broth/ ). I was hoping to use this to flavor and enrich my doggies’ daily meals, but am worried about the antibiotics and hormones they feed to animal/bone providers.  Could you suggest some organic meat producers in the area that can provide a true, natural product?  I don’t care if I eat steroid/antibiotic-tainted products, but don’t want to feed them to my pets.

Dear Coondog: Timely letter! In a quick check, I found antibiotic-, hormone-free beef bones in the freezer case at Mustard Seed Markets in Bath and Solon. Try Mustard Seed or other natural-foods stores.

If you want to buy right from the farm, check out the Eat Wild Ohio website, http://www.eatwild.com/products/ohio.html , where you’ll find contact information for several local beef producers that raise beef without the use of antibiotics, hormones or genetically modified feed.. Single copies are $26.

From M.S.:
Could dates or figs be substituted for raisins in the Cuban rum-raisin pudding recipe? Neither my husband nor I care for raisins but the recipe sounds good and easy.

Dear M.S.: Just about any dried fruit may be used instead of raisins. I think chopped dates would complement the flavors well.

From Donna Dickens:
My husband went to the New York Spaghetti House in Cleveland since age of 5 — he’s now 75 — and begs for brown sauce as they made it. The frozen sauce you can buy in stores is not the same. Any suggestions?

Dear Donna: I’ve printed recipes for versions of that sauce a couple of times but can’t locate the recipe on my computer. Can anyone help?

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