Forget coffee — you may be drinking chicken feet and bones tomorrow morning
Sipping meals has been trendy for some time now. From green juice to Soylent, our ever-busy culture has come to sacrifice the pleasure of chewing for efficiency. Sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner with just a straw in hand may seem far off, but the rise of bone broth as a meal, not just a base for creating hearty soups, may suggest otherwise. Bone broth is unsurprisingly sustainable, using otherwise wasted ingredients (animal bones, chicken beaks and feet) and turning them into a delicious and protein-heavy, and not to mention paleo-friendly consumable.
Rotisserie Georgette, a New York restaurant known for its slow-cooked poultry, put bone broth on Manhattan’s radar in early 2014, partially due to an excess of chicken bones and parts from the daily operations of running a poultry-heavy restaurant. Rotisserie Georgette’s head chef, Chad Brauze, an alum of Daniel Boulud’s Michelin-starred Daniel, likes the sustainability aspect of bone broth. “We are basically getting a second delicious, valuable dish from otherwise discarded items: necks, feet, roasted chicken carcasses—all things our Upper West Side audience wouldn’t care to order.”
Brauze explained the restaurant’s process in detail:
“First, we have the neck, feet and wings that come off of the raw chicken upon its arrival to our restaurant. These go into a large stockpot, unroasted, to simmer slowly for 12 hours with a minimal amount of garnish (carrot/leek/onion/parsley/bay leaf). It takes time to extract the flavor, gelatin (you get a lot from the wings and feet), and nutrients. When we have the luxury of extra space on our burners, we let this stock cook even longer to maximize the quality. This initial stock has a lot of body and good chicken aroma, but is still a little underdeveloped in terms of roasted flavor and coloration.
We next use the chicken bones left over after carving our roasted fowl—we also have a lot of these! We chop them small, toss them in chicken fat, and roast them to a deep caramelization in our convection oven. These go into the stockpot to be covered by the first stock and cook for a good 12 hours. It is then strained and we repeat the process one more time to get even more flavor. From here, we can reduce this triple-cooked stock down to be used as a velvety chicken jus to accompany main courses or we can clarify it to produce consommé….
By the time our consommé is complete it has been cooked anywhere from 30-40 hours. We do our best to get every bit of flavor and nutrients from our bones. In turn, it’s become something beyond just chicken stock. The aroma is of deeply roasted chicken, the flavor is thick with a rich umami, and the gelatin lends a richness to its mouthfeel not unlike that of fat. Each of these qualities take time and effort to develop. This is no stock, but rather what modern eaters are starting to refer to as a bone broth.”
Brauze has a bowl of consommé each day, to keep track of how the cooks are doing, as well as for its purported health benefits. Broth is said to be rich in amino acids and minerals from its long-term stay in the pot, and Brauze claims it helps with the joint pain he attributes to long hours standing in kitchens. Increased consumption of gelatin, glucosamine and chondroitin, all elements found in rich bone broths, may help ease these common pains. A good dose of protein in the morning can also help wake you up, similar to a cup of coffee but without the effects of caffeine. Mug of bone juice, anyone?
In New York, it’s possible. Brodo, a take-out broth window adjacent to the popular restaurant Hearth (known for chewy breads and hearty dishes) popped up downtown in December 2014, serving three types of bone broth: organic Pennsylvania Amish chicken broth, grass-fed beef bone broth and a signature broth with chicken, beef and turkey bones. Customers can choose to add stir-ins like ginger juice, freshly grated turmeric and Calabrian chili oil to their broth. Chef Marco Canora popularizes his product with such slogans as “Rethink your hot beverage” and “Broth: the world’s first comfort food.”
Brauze admires Canora’s work. “Here is a man that managed to get more value not just from the bones in his kitchen, but also from a previously unused door on the far side of his pastry kitchen. Beyond being a great chef whose food I enjoy, he is also a smart businessman.”
All it takes is a bit of creativity to earn some extra bones. Cheers!