An Investment for the Future

Recipe: Chicken Broth

Stay with me here, because I’m going to change how you cook (and shop), possibly forever. When you read a recipe that calls for chicken broth, you probably do one of three things:

  • get out the bouillon cubes and get to microwavin’
  • open up a can of store-bought chicken broth
  • open up a pretentious box of store-bought organic chicken-broth-of-smugness

Some very few of you may just amble on over to your freezer and take out a portion of prepared-in-advance deliciousness like I’m going to show you how to make. If you’re one of those, you have my permission to skip down to the recipe and examine my version. Please feel free to add suggestions for improvement (not that there is any room for it) or different things to try.

The rest of you, just get ready to learn something so easy, that returns such a dividend in health and taste, that you will wonder why everyone doesn’t already do this. I wonder why myself.

Gather these ingredients.

Considering the huge quantity of flavor we’re about to unleash, and the large number of future meals this is going to enrich and enable, that’s not a very big pile of stuff, is it? Making chicken stock requires chicken (this is a whole chicken, but you can save leftover parts in the freezer from previous meals until you get “enough”, a couple of pounds of chicken parts), an onion, some celery, some carrots, about an inch of ginger root, some peppercorns, and water. Feel free to toss in other root vegetables as you wish (perhaps leeks?). Chicken stock is a produce bin cleaner. Your veggies don’t have to be fresh, they just shouldn’t be spoiled.

Next, you prep the chicken (a step you can skip if you’re using chicken parts instead of a whole chicken). If you’ve never cut up a whole chicken and you’re hesitant to try, you can buy chickens already cut into pieces. Be forewarned that you will pay a 100% premium for having the butcher at the grocery store do something for you that takes less than 6 minutes, start to finish (and this was my first time). I found an excellent tutorial on the InterWebs, check it out before you pay double for your chicken.

I know, I should have had a “before” picture, but I was so excited to try out the steps shown in the tutorial that I was done before I even thought about the picture. Trust me, my chicken looked just like the chicken on the tutorial page.

Now it’s time to prep the vegetables, and by “prep” I mean “roughly chop”. Just chop them up into chunks, don’t worry about it. Slice the ginger into 1/4 inch slices, and heap it all together.

Active work for this recipe is pretty much done. You just put the chicken in the stock pot and add 16 cups of water. Bring it to a rolling boil and skim off the scum that gathers at the surface (shouldn’t there be a less jarring word for that than “scum”? on the other hand, I think we can all agree that less scum in our lives is better). Lower the heat to a medium-low simmer (some bubbling allowed), add the veggies and peppercorns, and cook for 2 hours. I might add at this point that your house is going to smell awesome, assuming the smell of delicious chicken soup is awesome to you.

After two hours, remove the chicken pieces to a plate to cool (if you are just using scraps, you can skip this step). When the chicken has cooled, harvest the cooked chicken and discard the bones and other scraps.

Pour the broth and vegetables through a strainer set over another pot, big enough to hold your stock. Let the veggies drain thoroughly, because every drop of this is gold. From there, I divide the harvested chicken into two portions (each big enough to supply chicken for an entire meal), and the stock into 2-cup portions. I freeze each portion separately (add a little stock to each chicken portion, it will prevent freezer burn and bring more flavor into whatever dish you use it in later).

The yield? Two meal’s worth of cooked chicken and 12 cups of awesome home-made chicken stock (not even counting the 1 1/2 cups I spilled while portioning things out).

It’s important that you cool the stock down to freezing as quickly as possible. That is a nutrient-rich environment, and if it spends significant time in the range between cooking and freezing, you run the risk of spoilage.

Chicken Stock
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Recipe type: an essential ingredient
Author: Jim Tolar
Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 2 hours
Total time: 2 hours 20 mins
WAY better than any store-bought chicken stock you’ll ever have.
Ingredients
  • 2-3 lbs. chicken parts, or one whole chicken, cut up
  • 16 cups of cold water
  • 1 tsp whole peppercorns
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2-4 carrots, washed and chopped
  • 2-4 celery stalks (with leaves, if possible), washed an chopped
  • other veggies as you see fit
Directions
  1. thaw chicken, if necessary, add to stock pot
  2. add water and bring to a rolling boil, skim the surface of any scum that accumulates
  3. reduce to a simmer, add veggies, ginger, and peppercorns. cook on a simmer for 2 hours.
  4. remove chicken to cool (if applicable), then harvest the cooked chicken.
  5. pour the veggies and broth through a strainer into a receiving pot.
  6. portion the stock as desired. freeze or refrigerate immediately. refrigerated stock should be used within 4 days.
2.1.7

 

Rating: It’s hard to rate this because it doesn’t stand on its own, but I think you will agree that this beats every over-priced, over-salted, store-bought “stock” you have ever had. And don’t even get me started on bouillon cubes. 5 out of 5 cups of chicken stock!

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5 Responses to An Investment for the Future

  1. Amanda N says:

    Stellar post JT! I’m guilty of always using store-bought, but I can be convinced to switch since you made it look so easy.

  2. Elizabeth says:

    1. I’m disturbed by the ‘young chicken’ name on the package. It’s way too close to ‘young children’.

    2. Some of us buy the pretentious box of organic chicken broth because for some strange reason it’s always cheaper. It’s one of life’s great mysteries.

    3. I would love a cost comparison on this. What do you spend making the broth vs. buying it? Because this does look super easy and definitely seems like it would taste better… I could be convinced to convert.

    • Jim Tolar says:

      1) Yeah, I was not a fan of the “young chicken” label myself. TMI

      2) When I (used to) buy stock from the store, I almost always throw some away because it always comes in the wrong size. The home-made stuff can be saved or re-frozen for next time.

      3) For this particular post, I spent $5.12 on the chicken and about $0.6 on the ginger. The rest I had on-hand. The result was 2 dinners worth of cooked chicken and 12 cups of stock. I’m thinking that is pretty dang price-competitive. Plus, healthier and better tasting!

  3. Pingback: Biting Off More Than I Could Chew | Wine and a Spoon

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