Your Kitchen’s Winter Arsenal

By Jillian Fraioli

I’m what you’d call a food hoarder. If an archaeologist went on an excavation in my freezer, they’d find my stash: chicken bones from roasted or rotisserie chickens, ham bones, fish bones; shrimp shells, multiple bags of vegetable detritus (they can be very useful!); ice cubes of chimichurri and pesto, stocks of various flavors, small amounts of leftover spaghetti sauce, meat scraps, and frozen ginger bits. I’m that person that if you invite me over and you’re throwing away any kind of bone, I’ll ask to take it home.

To me, this is a boon. I can conjure up almost any kind of soup, casserole, or one-pot dish, even with a limited pantry.

I don’t know where this behavior originated. Maybe it was from reading all that MFK Fischer in my twenties, then working at upscale restaurants that believed in no waste. I remember when I saw the first cauldron of lobster stock get assembled. Everything went in there — veggie scraps (fresh of course), roasted lobster shells, shrimp shells, spices — nothing was wasted. I was fascinated.

But I’m burying the lede. This horde that I keep is my first line of defense against all the winter blues — from colds and flus to just feeling down in the dumps. With all the over-indulging since late October, I make it a point to make a batch of bone broth every weekend as soon as the weather turns to autumn. Bone broth is easy to digest and has numerous nutrients known to help your body ward off or help fight colds and the flu. It also helps keep you hydrated, and if you add a little salt, more’s the better to help your body retain fluids. 

Now I do know where this belief originated. My grandmother believed in the healing powers of food, especially a good chicken stock spiked with enough garlic to ward off a dozen vampires. But she’d turn that magic into pastina cooked in the magic broth with egg and parmesan, and a dash of leftover spaghetti sauce, which is something us kids would eat (drink broth or eat grown-up veggie soup? No way!). I still crave it when I’m feeling crummy. There are several of these types of dishes across most cultures that I also dabble in, congee and okayu being two of the ones I’ll make if we have no pasta on hand.

But it’s that season; we’re around more people, the kids are up later, and were sharing all the germs that love to gather at a winter party.

So out come any bones, all those saved bits of veggies, some garlic, ginger, bay leaves, plenty of pepper, and maybe some ingredients you wouldn’t have: brewer’s yeast, apple cider vinegar, and star anise.**

Here’s my recipe guide for a Sunday bone broth, with some suggestions of what to save in your own freezer. If you have an instant pot, that cuts down on your cooking times, but I’ll often still simmer my bone broth over a weekend just to smell the magic through the house. It has a definite effect on the household morale to be surrounded by the smell of stock brewing.

**Don’t worry! If you don’t have all these things laying around, you can use the suggested substitutions.

Chicken Bone Broth

8-10 quarts heavy-bottomed pot or 8-10 quarts instant pot

Makes about 5-6 quarts of bone broth

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds of chicken bones (about two full chicken carcasses, from roasted or rotisserie chicken) or 3 pounds of fresh chicken wings. If I’m starting with wings, I’ll coat them in a little olive oil and roast at 385° for 40 minutes. This is not required, I just prefer the deeper flavor. Be sure to add in all the roasted juices if you do this!

Note: If you’re brave and want to take this a step farther, and have a butcher or store that stocks chicken feet, you’ll get even more bonus gelatin and nutrients. I try to add two feet in each of my chicken bone broths. When I can find them, I usually buy a couple of pounds and store them in packs of two in my freezer. 

  • 2 cups of Veggie Scraps. I save onion ends, carrot ends and peels, celery ends, stalks, and leaves, parsley stems, leek tops, cabbage leaves (in small amounts), collard green stems, kale stems, chard stems, garlic skins, parsnip ends, mushrooms, and corn cobs. DO NOT use any type of pepper; it will make your broth sour. You want a good cross section of these scraps — not all onion (unless you’re making onion-based soup) or all carrot (carrot and parsnip can make your stock too sweet).
    • Or, you can use three stalks of celery, leaves attached and chopped in large pieces, and one medium onion halved, OR a full leek including the top greens, washed well, two carrots, scrubbed and washed, skin on and chopped in large pieces.
  • 2 TBSP Apple Cider Vinegar. This is not optional, as this is the catalyst that will pull all the goodness out of your bones and leech it into the broth.

Optional (but strongly recommended):

  • 2” piece of ginger, peeled and sliced in half lengthwise
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed, skin left on
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp peppercorns, slightly bashed in a pestle
  • 2 TBSP brewer’s yeast (full of all the B vitamins you need!)

Optional (but not necessary):

  • 1 piece of star anise
  • 1 tsp of fish sauce (this deepens the flavor)
  • parsley stems (the stems have more flavor!)
  • 2 stalks of thyme or tarragon or oregano
  • any mix of herbs/stems you wish, really (but be careful with rosemary, it can get overpowering if you use too much)

Directions:

Add all the ingredients to your stock pot or instant pot, and add as much water to come about two inches below your stock pot (or the “max line” on  your instant pot).

Stove Top:

Place your stock pot on a burner to medium-high. Watch it carefully at this point, and when it comes to a rolling boil, either move burners to a low-simmer one or turn the burner down low enough where there are tiny slow bubbles. You don’t want to quick boil this. I take mine off when it’s reduced by just over 1/3. Sometimes this can take two days, but if you start it early enough, I recommend you simmer at least eight hours.

Instant Pot:

Set your instant pot to lock, ensuring you’re setting it to pressure cook, and choose manual for 90 minutes. You want to let it naturally release. If you’re leaving the house or forget for a while, it does the stock no harm to let it sit on warm.

Strain out all the goodies in a fine-meshed sieve, making sure to let all the broth drip. I push my veg and bones against the strainer. I don’t care if my broth is cloudy or thicker, I know I’m getting all the nutrients in my broth!

Refrigerate overnight. Once the broth is cold, you will have a fat layer that is now easy to remove and discard (I save this, you knew that, though, right? We call it schmaltz, and use it in place of butter or olive oil). Your broth should resemble a light to firm Jello.

I typically will save half of my yield in the freezer, and make at least one soup out of the other half. This is delicious heated up and sipped. Add in some small pasta shapes and diced carrot for the kiddos, like Campbell’s Chicken and Stars. Or, use it as a base for a full chicken or potato leek soup. For extra kick, just take all the veggies in the house, cut them up in bite-sized pieces, sauté them quickly in some of the schmaltz, add your bone broth, and then simmer for 30 minutes. 

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Jillian moonlights in her own kitchen as Executive Chef. She comes from a long line of at-home chefs, making Sunday sauce and homemade pasta as soon as she was knee-high with Grandma Fraioli. Jillian used to work at such illustrious restaurants such as Emeril’s Fish House in Las Vegas (where she was a Pastry Chef), and both in the front and back of the house of Serafina and Tango in Seattle. She ended her career in restaurants many lives ago, and now supports women-owned businesses. You can follow along with her cats and knitting (and sometimes food), if that’s your jam, on Instagram @yarnologie.

2018-11-29T20:02:22+00:00November 28th, 2018|Recipes|