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Marrow bone broth is trending among Paleo devotees and hipsters

‘The marrow is slow-cooked into the broth. It’s healthy cholesterol, which is what the body needs to feel strong. When you digest it, you’re getting a huge amount of energy, protein and vitamins.’Dr. Ken Grey, holistic physician

Forget the broth you might imagine, the watery depths of simmered something – a few bones and veggies – destined for a supporting role.

The broth that’s suddenly hip will accept nothing but a starring role. This is broth that’s now toted about in to-go cups, a la Starbucks. And what makes it star-worthy and trendy is everything that makes it gorgeously ancient: tons of marrow bones, low flame and hours of simmering.

When it comes to broth, what is old is new again – and, thanks to one New York chef/restaurateur, bone broth is trending.

The new wave of bone broth appreciation comes to us courtesy of nationally acclaimed chef Marco Canora, who opened a broth take-out business named Brodo last fall, next door to his New York restaurant, Hearth. Canora has credited his homemade, long-simmered broth with having healed him of a range of maladies brought on by chef-ly stress and excesses.

But the rich, potent broth he sipped during the day to nurse himself back to health – broth he made using old Italian family recipes – would be adopted quickly by everyone from chilly New Yorkers to health-seeking hipsters to Paleo loyalists.

Paleo devotees extol the virtues of broth that is rich in minerals, vitamins, collagen, gelatin and other joint-restoring, energy-giving nutrients that are released as bones, cartilage and marrow break down in the slow simmer.

“I love bone broth. It clears your skin and makes your gut healthy and happy,” says Linda Alberts, a public relations coordinator and avid home cook who chronicles her Paleo-inspired food adventures on Instagram (@GetRightWithFat).

The Port St. Lucie-based mother, who commutes to her West Palm Beach office each day, often packs a Thermos of bone broth to sip as a caffeine addict might sip a mid-morning cup of coffee or tea.

Alberts, 30, is partial to chicken bone broth, which she adds to weeknight dishes such as tacos or soups, to “sneak in” nutrients for her 3-year-old son.

“I roast a chicken on a Sunday night for dinner. Then I scrape the meat off the bones, put the bones in my crockpot with water and cook it on low. It’s a process,” says Alberts, whose Paleo-inspired diet has changed the way she sees food. “I used to be terrified of calories and fat. Now I can eat really good food and still be happy – and be happy with myself.”

Her method: She loads her slow cooker with either the bones of a rotisserie chicken or a pile of chicken backs and necks. She tops it off with water and 2 tablespoons of good apple cider vinegar. “And I just let it sit for an hour, so the vinegar can help break down the pieces,” she says.

Then she sets her slow cooker on low and lets it simmer for about 20 hours. At this point, she adds carrots, celery and onions and cooks the broth for another four hours. She strains out the bones and veggies and beholds her broth.

“I could just drink it right away – it’s a deep golden color. It’s delicious,” says Alberts, who only adds salt to the broth before sipping it.

There are few rules when it comes to making broth, and devotees of the nourishing elixir are divided on preparation methods. Some roast the bones first, while others prefer to let the simmering water extract the bone marrow and nutrients slowly. Some add veggies at the start of the roasting or simmering step, while others add them closer to the end. Some add vinegar to give the broth a nudge; others add a splash of wine. Some simmer for 24 hours, others for as little as four hours.

But broth, as most foods cooked from heart, soul and tradition, is a forgiving substance. Perhaps this explains its staying power – it’s not so easy to mess it up.

It is also a greatly healing substance, says Dr. Ken Grey, holistic physician and acupuncturist at Jupiter Medical Center.

“Years ago, I was prescribing bone broth to patients for fertility. Bone broth is also what you make when someone is sick or weak, to help recover from surgery,” says Grey, who co-authored the recent self-published book “Health and Balance: The Essential Elements Seasonal Cookbook” with former patient Carol Maglio.

Grey explains the gist of the broth magic this way:

“What you’re looking at is basically gray matter, the very condensed essence in the animal’s bone. The marrow is slow-cooked into the broth. It’s healthy cholesterol, which is what the body needs to feel strong. When you digest it, you’re getting a huge amount of energy, protein and vitamins.”

To maximize the absorption of vitamins and other nutrients, he suggests adding greens and veggies to the broth.

Like Alberts, Grey is a slow cooker fan when it comes to making broth.

“When you cook the broth too fast or too hot, it actually cooks the marrow inside the bone and you won’t get as much in the broth,” says Grey.

You can start the broth alone or with root vegetables, says Grey, who prefers a broth that’s studded with parsnips and carrots. This allows fat-soluble vitamins to be absorbed more efficiently in the body, says Grey, who makes his broth with about equal parts bones and water (with the water covering the bones).

“I would also recommend adding herbs, the settling herbs like parsley, thyme and rosemary, which can be helpful in aiding the digestion,” says Grey, who co-hosts a health food radio show Sundays at 9 a.m. on 94.3 FM WZZR and iHeartRadio.

The pungent notes in parsnips lift up the flavor of the broth, he adds.

As for the fat released in the simmering process, Grey says this: Don’t touch it.

“This is good fat. You can always thin out the broth with a little water, but don’t de-fat it.”

And lastly, he says, allow the broth to simmer for at least four hours in the slow cooker set to high (In slow cooker lingo, high does not mean boil), or eight hours set to low.

Grey believes so strongly in his bone broth that he once sent by overnight delivery a batch of frozen oxtail soup to the late Maya Angelou. (He had met the poet and author years earlier and kept in touch with her.)

He added the recipe to his first “Health and Balance” cookbook and named it “Life-Changing Oxtail and Root Vegetable Soup.”

This soup, promises the recipe intro, “will enrich and restore you.”

The soup’s cornerstone, of course: a long-simmered marrow bone broth.

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