If you haven’t reworked the Christmas turkey yet then today is the day to pluck up the courage and lay that ol’ bird to rest. After all it’s been four days and nobody really wants to go cold turkey any longer. I love a good Chrissy feast however this year I found myself having a word with a 5.2 kg bird that barely fit in the oven – let alone in my belly – and has fed a few gobblers ever since Santa blew into town. That is if you believe the hype force-fed down the tube of commercial television on the night before Christmas – what a farce! Anyway, back to the bird. So there I was wrestling with my beautiful basted bird on the big day and it was delicious.
The next day I shred some leftover breast meat finely into a festive lunch platter with freshly sprouted mung beans and other curly bits – just for the Byron effect – sliced nectarines and spinach leaves. Easy peasy, really clean and fresh. The best thing about turkey other than its sweet flavour, is that it contains tryptophan an essential amino acid that helps the body produce vitamin B3 Niacin. Tryptophan is a precursor of the sleep-inducing neurotransmitters serotonin and melatonin – just the ticket for an end of year feast and well-earned rest.
By the time the Sydney to Hobart was well out to sea it was time for a bird bath. Now this was no mean feat as there was still with a good deal of flesh on the ol’ bird’s bones ‘cos there’s only so much protein a gal can eat. Snugly nesting in a copper stock pot ready for a cleanse of its own and surrounded by a mirepoix and whatever herbs I had on hand, away it went, brewing, bubbling and frothing gently for the next 48 hours.
Now with all this fuss about bone broth being the next big thing, I’m sorry but it just ruffles my feathers. You see, making stock is a default mechanism in all good kitchens. However, I’ve worked in kitchens with very little chill space so this process was sadly not possible as shelf storage was so minimal, so freezing stock also works a treat if you’re short of a cool room. Usually it’s the first thing a chef will do most mornings and the sight of the stockpot on the back burner of a good restaurant kitchen is as iconic as the Chekhovian samovar.
The aroma of stock on the stove is also a key component and this is where roasting the bones prior to the stockpot is just so important. Blame it on my boarding school upbringing but the pungent stench of raw flesh and bone being boiled for hours is enough to make me run away faster than a rat our of a rice paddy. This is ultimately the reason why I just cannot cope with offal and noses and tails. Yep, I know they reportedly taste the best but they have to be executed by a meat master such as my ol’ buddy Matt Wilkinson ‘cos he gets it. Or perhaps the folks at Melbourne’s La Luna – where I attended the most hilarious event called Snagtastica as part of the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival years and years ago – but that’s another story.
Earlier this month I swung by a place called Brothl (since closed) I knew formerly as Silo. I eager to sample visionary Joost Bakker‘s take on old bones as his philosophy is simple if not brilliant: ‘Imagine a World Without Waste’ is the tagline and Brothl’s skeletal staff gather up all the unused bones, whole fish frames and other bits n bobs from Melbourne’s restaurants. I have fancied Joost and all he stands for many moons and seeing him on stage at TEDx was enough to stoke my fire and ignite my trust. Therefore I was mighty pumped to jump his bones at Brothl – if not just to giggle at the name in the flesh.
So on a rainy Melbourne Wednesday I was spoonfed a couple of broths and have to say that at any other time I would have been in bliss. However, I had just come back from a raw, vegan and living cuisine feast at Fivelements Bali and my palate was as clean as a whistle which made everything I tasted so overwhelmingly strong. The 48 hour brewed beef broth was voluptuously rich in bone marrow and other good bits that it would fix anything from coughs, colds to itchy holes thanks to the miracle of minerals especially calcium, all important for bone density, nerve transmission and muscle function; phosphorus vital for bone growth, calcium homeostasis, and DNA/RNA renewal and repair.
All good stock made from bone contains glucosamine, a naturally occurring simple sugar component, which is the building block of larger complex sugars called glycosaminoglycans. Glycosaminoglycans form the gel-like ground substance found in connective tissue, mucous secretions and synovial fluid. Therefore consuming mineral rich foods, stocks and slow cooked dishes are so essential for rebuilding our connective tissues and integrity of our joints.
Glyconutrients and polysaccharides are the keys to health. These are sugar components that form the sugar chains that coat and protect all body cells against germs and invasions. They are our naturally occurring Space Invaders, filling the spaces between cells which are often anti-inflammatory. They help to regulate immune response, are the carriers for stem cells and coat the neurons for efficient neurotransmitter function.
Degenerative joint diseases such as osteoarthritis typically target areas of the body including the hip, knee, finger, big toe and the spine. Characterised by a deep, aching pain with stiffness, osteoarthritis is usually caused by inflammation of the muscles, ligaments, tendons, or bone that surround damaged cartilage. Most cartilage degeneration is due to a lack of proteoglycan (chondroitin sulphate), a protein sugar also known as mucopolysaccharides (MPs), which provide the cartilage with the tensile strength required to carry out its supporting role.
So is it broth or is it stock? Well, blow the dust of your trusty Larousse Gastronomique, and if you do not have one, then it’s not too late to beg your beloved for a copy. Inside you will find no listing of the word broth but a bounty of method devoted to Fonds de Cuisine. From brown to white, fish stock to game there’s something for everyone. The foundation or fond is the basis of all good cooking and may be defined as being a liquid containing some of the soluble nutrients and flavours of food which are extracted by prolonged and gentle simmering – with the exception of fish stock, which requires only 20 -30 minutes.
Eaten too much over the festive season? According to Paul Pitchford my mentor and trusted authority in Chinese medicine, overeating also increases damp-heat, so light eating on broths and herbal teas is recommended during the painful acute phase. Broth ingredients can be chosen from these foods: aduki beans (especially effective against damp-heat), lima beans, celery, carrots, winter squash, potatoes with skins, asparagus, mushrooms, and other vegetables that are not warming. Recommended fruit is diluted lemon juice and cranberry juice.
So if you’re popping the ol’ boiler in to the stock post right about now, why not add a few of the aforementioned to help remedy the gluttony and get you back on track in time for a new year. As with so many health trends, everything old is new again. If you’re interested in stock as a powerful tonic and vital healing force then embrace the culinary foundation and create a masterpiece to be proud of.
Sammy’s Talkin’ Turkey fragrant stock
An excellent heavy bottomed pot – preferably copper or cast iron
Bones, skin, flesh and carcass of your Christmas day bird
2 onions, peeled and roughly chopped
2 carrots,roughly chopped
1 orange, skin on, quartered
2 vanilla beans, split
Leftover herbs, roughly chopped
Peppercorns, bay leaves, coriander seeds
Water to cover
- Place all ingredients in the pot, bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for 24-48 hours
- Discard the orange after about 2 hours as the pith will make your stock bitter
- Cool, strain, pick apart the flesh you like and discard the sinewy bits if you’re fussy like me
- Season well before using or storing. Be sure to taste
- Freeze for up to 3 months
You might also like…..
Gowing, S, 2013. The Healing Feeling. 3rd ed. Byron Bay Australia: Whole Happiness™ Publishing.
Montagne, P, 1983. New Larousse Gastronomic. 5th ed. London: Hamlyn Publishing Group.
Pitchford, P, 1993. Healing with Whole Foods . 1st ed. Berkeley California: North Atlantic Books.
Price, V, 1974. A Treasury of Great Recipes. 1st ed. New York N.Y.: Grosset & Dunlap.