Wednesday, September 22, 2010

How To - Make Chicken Broth

My 12 lbs of chicken legs - Yum!
I cooked 12 lbs of chicken leg quarters this last Saturday.  Yes, I precook my chicken.  This just makes life easier for me.  As dinnertime rolls around, I don't have to wait an hour for the chicken to cook  - just grab a bag from the freezer and use it in whatever dish I want.  

Best of all, I can make chicken broth right then and there instead of collecting and freezing bones throughout the month.  I really don't want that in my freezer....EW!  (I'm really wary about anything that has to do with chicken and salmonella.)

As Mark at Mark's Daily Apple recently blogged about, homemade broth rocks. Not only does it taste great and provides lots of nutrition, but it also is cheap and easy to make.  One of my quickest, and most filling, meals is garlic-chicken soup, made with homemade broth and pre-cooked chicken. ;-)

So, I thought I'd make a little photo "how to" on how I make my chicken broth, for those "broth virgins" out there


Meat on left / bones on right
Step One: Find enough chicken bones to fill 1/3 of your stock pot.

I buy chicken leg quarters from the local Asian market (usually 69 cents / lb), roast them in the oven and then strip the meat off, leaving the skins, bones and anything else inedible for the stock pot.

The same store sells frozen chicken bones (89 cents/lb) which I have used when I have enough chicken in the freezer but ran out of broth.  If you do go this route, I suggest roasting the bones in the oven until they just begin to char a bit - it adds a more "depth" to the flavor.

My 12 lbs of chicken legs gave me 4.5 lbs of chicken meat and enough bones to make 2 batches of chicken broth.


Vegetables for the stock
Step Two:  Roughly slice up 2 onions, 2 carrots and 2 celery ribs and toss on top of bones in stock pot.  Add in garlic to taste - I toss in a couple tablespoons or 3 cloves.

Don't worry about being precise about cutting - I usually do it in chunks.  My method is to cook the broth long and low, so by the end, even large chunks of vegetables are cooked through and mush.


Step Three: Fill pot with water until you reach within 1/2 to 1" of the top.  


Heating up....
Step Four:  Place on stove and turned heat up to high until it's just about to boil and then turn it down to low.

You DO NOT want this to come to a boil...not even a simmer.  If it does boil, you get an icky film at the top that requires a lot of skimming...and to me, well, a slow-cooked broth and a "speed broth" taste different.

You  might think, "Oh, this is going to take forever to heat up...look at all that water!"  But let me tell you from experience, it can happen a lot faster than you expected.

My trick - I keep it on high until I can't put my finger in it.  Yeah, I know, it's crazy but it does work.  Then I turn it down to low, put the top on and walk away....  Yes, walk away. 


After 12+ hours of brewing
Step Five: Let it cook on low for 12 hours minimum.  Typically, I start this in the morning and let it cook throughout the day.  Let me tell house smells fabulous  on chicken cooking days.  A friend walked into my house last weekend and told me, "It smells like Thanksgiving in here." 

This pic is how it looks after 12+ hours of brewing on my stove top.


Strainer and bowl ready to go....
Step Six: Carefully Strain.

This stuff is hot molten lava at this point so be very very careful when pouring.  I've splattered myself many times while doing this and let me tell you, it hurts!  And as always, pour AWAY from yourself, not towards, okay?


Finished Product - Broth
Step Seven: Pour into a heat-safe container and refrigerate overnight.

See all that yellow stuff at the top?  That's chicken fat.  As it sits undisturbed in the cold fridge, the fat will rise to the top and solidify.  By the time you take it out in the morning, it will be hard enough for you to easily scrap off and either toss or save This is the stuff that Schmaltz is made out of - you just have to boil it to get rid of any water and then store in a air-tight container in the fridge.  Some people use it for cooking while others use it as spread.


Frozen bags of chickeny goodness.  ;-)
Step Eight: Use within 3 days or freeze for later use.  

I freeze mine in meal-size portions using small freezer bags.  Though take a tip from me - when you freeze then, make sure you lay them flat.  Otherwise, you get some interesting shapes that don't stack well.  Misshaped blocks of chicken broth have cause many a freezer avalanche in my house.  ;-)

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