Sunday, February 14, 2010

MAKING BONE BROTH

If you don't make your own meat broths - you are missing out on not only financial savings, but health benefits as well.  Many people today may not realize how simple and virtually effortless it is to make their own stock.  That's why I'll walk you through the process of making chicken stock today.

95% of the time I buy whole chickens instead of boneless, skinless breasts, parts or what have you.  I do this because it's cheaper, the meat stretches into several meals and I can use those precious bones to make nutritious and delicious bone broth.  If you make friends with your slow cooker it is pretty painless.


First, you want to rinse the chicken in cold water and put it in your crock pot.  I simply seasoned mine with a little salt and pepper and added water and a bay leaf.  I started mine in the morning with intentions on making chicken soup for supper, so I cooked on high for 4 or 5 hours until the chicken was done.  Another easy way to do it is to put the chicken on low before bed and it will be ready for you to continue when you wake up.


When the chicken is cooked, remove it to a plate to cool.  Leave the cooking liquid in the crock pot.


While the chicken is cooling, roughly cut some veggies to put in your pot.  Here I have an onion, a couple stalks of celery, a couple carrots and a few cloves of garlic.  You can add more of what you have on hand; a potato, parsnips, herbs, etc...  When I have parsley growing I always add that.  Not only will your veggies flavor the broth, they will infuse it with their nutrients.


Once your chicken has cooled enough to handle, begin picking the meat off the bone and cleaning it.  This is the method I use: I have my crock pot to throw the bones and cartilage back into it, I have a bowl for putting the cleaned meat into and I have a plastic grocery sack to throw the skin and any uckies from the meat in.  From there, I can either use the meat immediately or bag it up into whatever serving sizes I desire for freezing.  The plastic grocery sack is easily thrown away.  And the pot is nearly ready for turning into stock. 

You can see in the above picture the bones on top of the veggies and that I added a few red pepper flakes.  Now it's ready to put the lid back on and cook it on low.  Since I started my chicken in the morning - it was now evening, so I cooked my broth all night.  If you cooked your chicken at night - you'll cook the broth during the day.


When I woke the next morning the veggies and bones had done their job well.


Time to strain the broth.  I saved the carrots.  I put them in a bag in the freezer.  They can be used for stews, pot pies or whatever in the future.  Or, you could go ahead and eat them for breakfast.  I won't judge you if you do.  The rest of the bones and veggies have served their pupose and can be tossed.

At this point I put a lid on the bowl and refrigerated it until it was cool.  This time of year you could let your garage or your porch act as your fridge if you live in a cold enough climate. 

The thing to remember here is that you don't have to set a timer, you don't have to watch it like a hawk.  It will be waiting for you when you're ready to deal with it.  No pressures.


Once it's cool, the fat will have risen and solidified on the surface.


Just scoop it off and dispose of it.


What you have left is rich, delicious and nutritious bone broth.  It doesn't look like the canned stuff you buy.  The color is much deeper and it is a gel.  This is actually a good thing.

I have read from several sources, that our moms were right about chicken soup being so good for us.  The problem that we have today is how we prepare it.  The substance in the bones that causes homemade stock to gel is where all of the rich, nourishing properties lie.  So, when we only buy canned stock instead of making our own, we really end up short changing ourselves in the health arena.  I should have probably pulled out my books and researched for you the exact specifics of how bone broth helps your body, but I'm just a little too lazy for that this morning.  We'll just call it good homework for you, MKay?  I'm guessing you could google it.  It's really very fascinating, though. :0)

The last thing left to do is bag it up. 


Ummm, I'm pretty sure you don't want to do it this way.  See that bag of broth?  Yeah, I stuck it in the freezer and then it slid down over each one of those wires and froze that way.  Now, I have a gallon of homemade stock that I can not get out of the freezer.  Believe me, I've tried.  I even took everything off of that shelf thinking I could lift the whole shelf off and let it thaw in the sink until I could get the bag loose.  Wouldn't you know it?  That shelf doesn't come out.  So, don't be a dork, like me.


Save yourself some heart ache and do it this way.  A can of broth holds about 1 and 3/4 cups.  Bag it in 1 and 3/4 cup portions, then lay it flat on something until it's frozen.  When you need a can of broth, just pull a bag out of the freezer.  It will thaw in no time.

You can see here how I got the equivalent of 4 full cans of broth and 1 extra cup (which I marked) out of what many people throw away.  Although, it took a while to complete the process - I barely had to mess with it at all.  And, most of the time, I didn't even have to think about it.  My slow cooker did all of the work for me. 

If you eat leg quarters or just the drumsticks or thighs - save those bones.  You can freeze them until you have enough to make stock.  You can do the same thing with beef or fish bones (if you eat it that way), too.  I suppose that pork bones would work, too.  But, I always freeze those to cook in various pots of beans.

Another option that I've done with a turkey carcass was to roast the carcass with the veggies in some olive oil in the oven before making stock.  Boy, was that ever yummy.  I'm usually too lazy for that, though.  My point is - there are many variations to making your own stock.  Don't be intimidated by it.  Just do it.  You can't mess this up.  But, you'll reap the rewards in your taste buds, your budget and your health.  What are you waiting for?  Go make some stock already!

Happy Homemaking!

1 comment:

Jessie said...

You little domestic diva you!