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Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Chicken Broth/Stock

I mention chicken broth or chicken stock in a lot of my recipes, but I don't think I've ever posted about making it.  It's super easy, it freezes well, saves money, and, well, if you're using a healthy chicken (i.e. free-range, non-antibioticized, etc.) it is also a good source of minerals.

We almost always buy bone-in chicken.  It has more flavor and is also cheaper.  I often cut chicken off of the bone, and oftentimes shred it too.  I save all my bones and all my skin and either use it immediately or throw it in a container in the freezer.  Once I feel I have enough to work with, I make my broth or stock.  I especially like to use a whole chicken carcass, but that's just because it has some meat clinging to it to provide more flavor.

When I know I will be making broth in a couple of days, I also save vegetable scraps-- the leaves from celery, the little leftover onion that didn't fit in a recipe, etc.  I throw them in a tupperware dish in a fridge. If I don't have scraps to use I will use fresh vegetables, but since they'll be strained out and discarded in the end, I like to use scraps if I can.  (It's all about saving pennies.)

Typically, I use:
4-6 chicken bones
1 cup or more of chicken skin or meat bits
1/2 onion
3 cloves garlic
1 tsp. thyme
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 tbsp. vinegar
1 cup celery and/or carrot scraps
 Lots of water

If I am cooking anyway and will be by the stove, I cook this in a stock pot. If not, I throw it in the crockpot.  I usually fill it most of the way with water.  You don't necessarily want to boil it, you want to cook it slowly and low.  Your broth is not done until you start to get a golden color with globs of gelatin in it (the vinegar actually helps produce the gelatin).  You may also add parsley at the end.  Strain the broth and either use immediately or freeze. To freeze, pour in a container, leaving extra room at the top as liquid expands when it is frozen. Otherwise, you'll have one heck of a mess to clean up in the freezer.   I usually sit my containers out for about 20 minutes before use and then pop the frozen block into the pot I'm cooking in.

You can use chicken broth for drinking when you're sick, to make soups, or to make sauces or rice more flavorful.  It's cheaper to make than buy, and you're skipping all the excess sodium and preservatives. 

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