Easily more delicious than anything you can buy at the store, homemade chicken broth is also simple, economical and nutritionally dense.
Hands-on Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 6-24 hours
- 1 whole chicken carcass
- 2 onions, quartered
- 1 carrot
- 2 ribs of celery
- a few small cloves of garlic
- 3-5 quarts cold water
- 1 bay leaf
- a bunch of thyme
Risottos, vegetables, braises and soups—countless dishes are enlivened with the addition of chicken stock. Far more than just a flavorful liquid, chicken stock is also nutritionally dense. Cup for cup, it packs nearly as much protein as plain yogurt, and supplies more than a quarter of the recommended daily allowance of niacin, a B vitamin that helps the digestive system, among other things. Considering that canned stock can contain half the recommended daily allowance of sodium, it’s also good to know that you control the ingredients of stock you make at home.
Normally wasted, the bones from one whole, roasted chicken make enough broth for several future dishes, and a batch freezes well in small containers for future meals—true economy.
Nutrients per serving (1 cup): calories: 86, total fat: 3 g, sat. fat: 1 g, carbs: 8 g, sugars: 4 g, protein: 6 g, sodium: 343 mg, cholesterol: 7 mg
Nutritional Bonus: Grandma was right—chicken stock is good medicine. One reason for this is that garlic contains allicin, a potent antimicrobial compound. Onion skins add a rich, golden color to your broth. Even better, this pigment contains an antioxidant called quercetin that helps regulate blood pressure, and reduces plaque in the arteries and inflammation in the body.
1. Place the carcass of one roasted chicken in a stockpot or crockpot. Add two quartered onions, leaving the skins on. You can even save onion peels in a Ziploc bag in the freezer especially for use in stocks. Add a few cloves of garlic. Since you are not going to eat the garlic itself, there’s no need to peel it. Include a couple of carrots and ribs of celery in large chunks. Cover the chicken, vegetables, and aromatics with cool water and simmer on low for at least an hour or for as long as 24 hours.
TIP: The tiny cloves from the inside of the garlic head are perfect for stock. You can either prepare stock in a Crockpot or stockpot on the stove.
2. Remove the broth from the heat and let it cool, uncovered, in the fridge for several hours or overnight. A golden yellow layer of fat will form over the top of the pot when it is ready. Skim this layer off with a spoon. The broth below will be chunky and jiggly, almost like soft gelatin. The texture is so thick not because of its fat content, which is negligible, but because the liquid is especially high in collagen—yet another health benefit of this home-cooked, slow-cooked food.
3. Heat the pot a little so that the stock thins out enough to pour. Strain the broth through a mesh sieve (or a colander lined with cheesecloth) into a second large pot or bowl. If you are using the carcass of a roasted chicken to make broth, there probably won’t be much meat to sort through.
4. Use the broth right away for soup, or divide it into glass quart jars or Ziploc bags for freezing.
TIP: Be sure to allow about an inch of headspace at the top of the jars or bags so the liquid has enough room to expand when it freezes, and place a dish underneath the jars or bags while freezing to catch any drips or leaks.
VARIATION: You can also use a whole, uncooked chicken to make stock. Follow the same procedure as above. In step 3, when everything has cooled, you will also be removing meat from the bones.
AUTHOR BIO: Mary Brower owns Bluestem Farm, a four-season community farm in northern Michigan. Learn more at bluestemfarm.net.
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