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CookBook Review

Should you stock up on books celebrating the bone broth craze?

Katherine and Ryan Harvey

Listen to these instructions, which one cookbook author expects you to do: Buy two whole chickens and remove the wings, thighs, drumsticks, and breasts. You’re left with carcasses, of course. Take them and the wings, plus the bird innards and necks and make broth. You also need chicken feet. Good luck finding them outside Chinatown.

If you think that’s ridiculously labor intensive, you haven’t heard anything. To cook from these books, you need to put everything else in your life aside, just to get mountains of bones into the kitchen. Or — as one author advises — order bones online!

Broth is one of the oldest recipes that exists. In ancient kitchens, when there were only hearths to cook in and scraps of meat to throw in the pot, cooks simmered them in water all day to extract what they could from the bones. The word “restaurant” comes from the French “restorer” (to restore) because the first 18th-century eateries sold highly concentrated elixirs to Parisians. Someone decided that regular old chicken stock should go by the name “bone broth,” as if bones are a new addition, and the people of New York, LA, and beyond began queuing up to buy well-made cups. It’s turned into a full-blown trend that fits into many other diets, including Paleo, gluten-free, and low-calorie, and soothes a funny tummy. But you need big equipment and someone to tend the pots for hours and hours. It’s restaurant food, not ideal for home cooks, but four new books celebrate the idea.

Moms Taylor Chen and Lya Mojica, founders of Bone Deep & Harmony in New York, where you can buy broth, write in “Bone Deep Broth” that “spiritual- and health-focused paths led us to experiment with many trendy and plant-based diets.” Those regimens proved inadequate until they adopted a diet high in nutrient-dense broth. For beef or bison broth, you roast bones for an hour, then simmer them for 12 to 24 hours. I don’t know about you, but I refuse to leave the house when something is cooking and I will not simmer a pot overnight. I would rather wake up to the aroma of coffee.

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I used meaty shin because my market didn’t have enough bones, and though instructions call only for water, I added the optional scallions, ginger, apple cider, and salt. The recipe never tells you to skim the broth in the early stages, which is essential.

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For Vietnamese pho, you simmer the broth further with anise, cinnamon, coriander, fennel, cloves, cardamom, soy sauce, fish sauce, and coconut sugar (I didn’t buy a package for only 2 teaspoons), which makes it lovely and aromatic. Ingredients call for “1 small raw steak, thinly sliced,” which you ladle the broth over in the bowl; it will not cook the meat enough for most people. And there’s no guidance on how much steak or what type (try ½ pound fillet of beef). Poached eggs in tomato sauce, a dead ringer for North African shakshuka except you add broth, mangles the method for peeling tomatoes and doesn’t ask you to season the sauce until after it’s cooked. But it’s a light, herb-filled dish.

Many credit chef Marco Canora for the deep broth craze. He owns Hearth restaurant and opened Brodo, a takeout window, in 2014 with a menu of intense broths. “Brodo” the book has a lot of explanation and recipes that appear simple. Golden chicken broth requires 15 pounds of chicken feet, chicken wings, backs, and necks (to yield 6 quarts). Mushroom risotto, made with mushroom broth — using lots of fresh crimini, and dried shiitake and porcini — is sublime.

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In “The Bare Bones Broth Cookbook,” Katherine and Ryan Harvey make a chicken stew with lemon, artichokes, capers, and olives, which is slightly too acidic (omit the caper brine). The authors call for granulated garlic or garlic powder, as if real garlic were hard to come by, and ghee or oil, supposing people have ghee on hand. One terrific recipe for shrimp gumbo with shrimp stock (you can’t imagine the smell that it leaves in your house for days) is good even without hard-to-find gumbo file. Roux instructions are a mess. Whisk the liquid into the butter-flour mixture or you’ll get giant globules, as I did because I thought they had a surprise technique, and had to start over.

The Harveys own Oregon-based Bare Bones Broth Co., which ships nationally. They address a burning question: “Broth? Isn’t it just stock?” The duo admits there may have been no difference a hundred years ago, or even decades ago, when your grandmother simmered every bone and scrap, but over the years, people stopped making stock and commercial varieties are diluted.

The least appealing of the quartet is “The Bone Broth Secret,” unless you like a side of motivational speak. Coauthor Louise Hay, nearing 90, who wrote “You Can Heal Your Life,” has her own publishing house. The preface begins with “Loving yourself,” “Focusing on the right thoughts,” “Focusing on the right foods.” Recipes go on for pages and are hard to cook from. An eye of beef round, which seems simple enough, is terribly confusing as you navigate whether to marinate the meat, brown it, use the oven, slow cooker, or stove top. Lamb stew is listed under breakfast and meant to be served with “your favorite green vegetables.” It actually would be good with an egg on top, but what wouldn’t?

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I’m all for homemade stock using whatever you’ve collected in the fridge or freezer. Here’s a tip: After roasting a chicken, scrape the bottom of the pan with two cups of boiling water and you’ll have the most intense stock. I call this “chicken Jell-O.” And you hardly had to do a thing.

The Bare Bones Broth Cookbook: 125 Gut-Friendly Recipes to Heal, Strengthen, and Nourish the Body

By Katherine and Ryan Harvey. HarperWave, 319 pp., $27.99

The Bone Broth Secret: A Culinary Adventure in Health, Beauty, Longevity

By Louise Hay and Heather Dane. Hay House, 377 pp., $24.99

Bone Deep Broth: Healing Recipes With Bone Broth

By Taylor Chen and Lya Mojica. Sterling Publishing Co., 182 pp., $19.95

Brodo: A Bone Broth Cookbook

By Marco Canora with Tammy Walker. Pam Krauss Books, 159 pp., $20

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Sheryl Julian can be reached at sheryl.julian@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @sheryljulian.