22 March 2013

Homemade Chicken Broth

So last week, I covered roasting your own chicken.  Easy peasy, right?  Healthy and delicious.  But we want to maximize our return on this chicken.  This week, I'm going over what you can do with all the bones and leftovers.
Normally I like to separate the meat out while the chicken is still warm, because I like to make a soup du semaine to eat for lunch every day.  If you're pulling meat off as needed, no worries.  Just throw the bones in a freezer bag and keep adding them in as they become available.  I usually get around 3.5 cups of meat from each bird.
Here's what a cleaned carcass looks like.  You can see the wishbone sticking out in front.  I know this is a little morbid, but if you eat chicken I think you should know where it comes from.
Everything goes in a pot.  Bones, neck, organs, skin.  All the leftover juices from roasting it.  Add water until the carcass is nearly covered.
Best practice:  Add an onion, a few carrots, and the celery leaves/heart leftover from cutting up celery.
I usually put it on the stove when I get home from work and let it simmer until near bedtime.  So, around 4 hours.  There should be no discernible carcass left by then.
I use a pair of tongs to pull out the big pieces, then strain what's left.  The broth should have a decent layer of fat on it from the chicken and from the butter.
Let it cool, then refrigerate overnight.  The fat all solidifies on top (you can use that for frying, or you can discard it).  The broth underneath should be the consistency of jello.  This is due to the gelatin in the bones.  It's a little weird at first, but I promise it's a good thing.  This is the mark of a good broth.
This broth can be used in any recipe that calls for chicken broth.  You can dilute it with water or use it straight.  You can add a few big spoonfuls of broth jello to a mug of hot water and drink it.  As I've said before, bone broth is good for you.  Especially if it's coming from free-range and/or grass-fed animals.  Usually, I put all of the broth into my weekly soup for a serious flavor-boosted soup, like this split pea soup.

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