It's taken a little while, but two hot new food and health trends have finally landed in Chicago: bone broths and matcha tea. Lettuce Entertain You's Ramen-San has forms of both available, while the group's Beatrix is featuring matcha in a cookie.
Eater National has covered the bone broth and matcha trends in-depth, as well as putting together a handy map to find bone broths across the country, but let's get you up to speed on both.
Matcha tea is green tea powder that is milled very finely and is high in antioxidants. But consuming the leaf itself yields better results than it would just mixed with hot water, so keep that in mind.
Matcha can be found at Ramen-San right now in the form of a matcha latte, but a cocktail dubbed "Matcha Bees Knees" is poised to hit the menu come springtime. The drink will feature matcha-infused bourbon with yuzu, lemon and honey. Meanwhile, Beatrix offers matcha-laced cookies that they say go great with coffee or tea or even Ramen-san's matcha latte.
To boil things down a bit, bone broth, which is full of collagen, glutamine, proteins and minerals, is essentially stock, something that restaurant kitchens make every day. But just like matcha, there's debate on just how much nutritional value there is in consuming bone broths which is part of another health trend, the paleo diet.
Ramen-san chef Doug Psaltis decided to put the broths on the menu after getting requests from customers and because "they're warm and inviting" and "nutritious," he says. Plus, the broths are a good way for people to not drink something caffeinated, too. "They're a good sipping alternative to the standard coffee or tea." The River North hotspot has two broths available for $5 each.
Psaltis' shio broth is "a double chicken broth that starts out as a simple chicken stock." He describes the process thusly: "Whole pasture-raised Crystal Valley chickens, traditional mirepoix of celery, carrots and onions are covered in water and simmered. After 4 hours, the stock is strained and filtered to remove any impurities." He then adds more fresh hens to the broth, "along with bruleed onions, dried shiitake mushrooms, ginger, garlic and kombu" which then gets a rolling boil for another four hours. This broth is strained a second time before getting seasoned with sea salt and Szechuan peppercorns.
Less involved time wise, "the shiitake broth is made from the highest-grade dried shiitakes, bruleed ginger, garlic and onions" with "a little bit of soy, sake and sesame oil" before being "simmered for 2.5 hours. The result is a broth full of "a rich umami flavor" as well as a "caramelized flavor of ginger."
Also entering the ring is the healthy meal delivery service Kitchfix, which plans to sell bone broth at its first retail shop when it opens this spring, according to Crain's.
Chicago chef John Hagedorn (The Radler, Sprout) is a huge fan of the bone broth trend, saying "I am 100 percent in favor of this trend growing." He has "seen and tasted some of the most amazing stocks in the world" while also seeing "the methodology neglected in ways that should be criminal." Though he won't go so far as calling bone broths "a magical healing elixir of the gods" he does love to make them and takes "a great deal of pride" in doing so.
Hagedorn says that there's a misconception about the time it takes to make a great bone broth. "Any knowledgeable chef will tell you that all gelatin and nutrients will have been extracted after a certain point of time," depending on many different factors (the type and cut of an animal, the amount of skimming done throughout the cooking process). He rejects notions floated by "non-chef folks driving the trend" of a chicken bone broth needing to cook longer than chicken stock would.
As for business possibilities, Hagedorn (who is currently in Spain on a cooking, eating and research trip that will take him to four other countries by the time he is done) thinks the idea of a bone broth shop "sounds like a lot of fun to me," provided that "the trend sticks."
What do you make of these new trends? Sound off in the comments.