Our family is growing in many ways... Growing in numbers, knowledge, parenting skills, growing in love, in our faith, growing our culinary skills (if you can call it that), growing without gluten (some of us), growing green...........

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Homemade Chicken Broth

Why make your own chicken broth? There are a number of reasons that make it more than worth the time and (little bit) of effort. It's cheap. It's fresh. It's healthy. It's tasty. It's cheap (oh, did I already say that one?).  And it's easy.

Are those enough?

Your house will also smell wonderful while simmering the broth.

Should be plenty of reasons.

I'm sure there are tons of recipes out there, and this is just the one I use. I looked up a number of them before going for it. This one was easy with few ingredients, most of which I always have on hand. Since I started making it more than a few months ago, I haven't even considered buying it from the store.

from Food Network

1 whole chicken, about 4lbs
1 medium onion, peeled and quartered
2 medium carrots, quartered
2 stalks celery, quartered
1 leek, dark tops only
1 medium parsnip, peeled and quartered, optional
3 generous sprigs fresh thyme, or 1 tsp dried
3 generous sprigs flat-leaf parsley
5 whole black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
About 4 quarts water

I use only the bottoms of leeks when I make my veggie soup, so I simply stick the tops in a bag and keep them in the freezer to use with this broth. Works out quite nicely. I add the parsnips if I have recently purchased a bag to use with other things or if the store is carrying loose parsnips, which they do from time to time. Otherwise, I skip it. Fresh or dried herbs work just fine. We always have organic onions, carrots, and celery on hand, and it doesn't cost hardly any extra, so we end up making organic chicken broth. We get our chickens either from Whole Foods or from a vendor at the Farmer's Market who sells organic whole chickens. At either place, we'll pay less than $12 for the chicken. Considering the fact that everything is organic and we use the chicken for other meals, this is a very cost efficient recipe. Add in that 2lbs of chicken breasts from Whole Foods - where we get our chicken breasts - costs $12 alone (!), I feel like I'm getting an extra 2lbs of chicken and 15-16 cups of chicken broth for free... Before, we bought organic chicken broth, and that costs a lot more than free.

Toss chicken, veggies, herbs, and peppercorns in large stockpot. Pour in enough water just to cover chicken completely.

Heat the water to just under a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low simmer so that 1 or 2 bubbles break the surface each minute. Skim any foam off surface with a ladle or skimmer. (If you have a degreasing cup, which I don't and don't feel the need for, you can put the skimmed liquid in it and return any usable broth back into the pot in order to not lose a lot of stock. I never feel like I'm losing much, really.) Cook for about an hour or until the chicken is cooked through but not dry.

Remove the chicken from the pot, but continue to simmer broth. Cool chicken for about 10 minutes. Cut the meat from the bone (I just use my fingers, but yes, it will still be hot in parts), and reserve. Return the bones to the pot and cook for another hour. They make it sound like it takes no time to get all the meat off. If you are doing a good job, it will take a while. Give yourself about 15 or so minutes, maybe a bit more. It's not a five-minute job... But this is the most work you will have to do!

Strain into a non-reactive container, like another pot. I use a really large stainless steel mixing bowl. This is a LOT of broth. Fill the sink with a mixture of ice and cold water, coming about halfway up the sides of the container. I put the empty bowl in the sink first, put ice around it, put the broth in the bowl, and then put cold water in the sink. Seems to work better in that order. I really don't want to be carrying a huge bowl of hot broth around and trying to fit it in a sink full of ice and water. (You can stir the broth around to help it cool faster, if you want.) After the broth has cooled (this stops the cooking process), cover and refrigerate up to five days or freeze it. I freeze mine in quantities which I will need it for various recipes, for cooking rice, etc.

Pretty easy! It might sound like a lot of work if you haven't done it, but it's not. There's not much hands-on time at all. And it's all totally worth it!

We love to use the remaining chicken for lots of things... I usually freeze most of it in amounts we'll use later for recipes. Our favorite is the chicken salad that most of us, especially Aiden, love so much.

Oh, and here's some exciting news (if you get excited over this kind of thing...). Whole Foods is having one of their one-day sales tomorrow (Friday, the 18th) on their organic whole chickens! They'll be on sale for $1.69/lb. So, run out, get some, and then make some chicken broth! I already made some this week, but I'm going to get a few to put in the freezer anyway! Details here.


Veggie scraps in one bag, leek tops in the other. This makes
the broth nearly free...all you pay for is the chicken!
Ever since my friend posted in the comments about a good money/time saving way to make broth, I've been using some of her tips. Whenever I use onions, celery, carrots, etc, in other dishes, I save the parts I cut off and toss them in a ziploc bag in the freezer. Or anytime something is close to going bad and I don't think we'll eat it in the next day or two, instead of throwing it away, it goes in the baggie, too. By the time I'm ready to make some more broth, I usually have enough of those veggie scraps to make the batch of broth. Throw them in the pot, add some seasoning, put in the chicken, and fill with water. All I had to buy was the chicken! And out of it, I get this...

After all is said and done, I am left with 15 cups of broth and
4 1/2 cups of cooked chicken. Not bad when all I bought was
the chicken, which cost around $12 or so!
I freeze the broth in different sized containers, based on what I need it for later on. What are the ice cube trays for? Well, when I use the mason jars, I can get just under 2 cups of broth in, leaving room for expansion at the top. I freeze some broth as ice cubes, and later 4 cubes added to 1 jar of broth = 2 cups. The container in the middle with broth is perfect for freezing 2 cups, but I only have a couple of those so far. Hope to get more! I freeze the chicken based on what I will use it for, as well. Here, I'm using a mason jar with 2 cups chicken for the chicken salad, 1 cup is for a casserole or something like chicken tortilla soup, and the bag with 1 1/2 cups is for Salsa Chicken that we'll have soon. One cup of chicken is equal to about a pound. I like that when I go to make those dishes, the chicken is not only cooked but also cut up for me. Makes things that much easier!

You could also skip the chicken and make vegetable broth! Using scraps, seasoning, and water...it's basically FREE!


Becky said...

Sorry Daisy, I have not reached this level of domesticity. That is still a lot of prep work and frankly I don't think I even have pots big enough for this project.. oh and eating boiled chicken?? My mom used to boil chicken breasts to short cut cooking and they were horrible! The idea of boiling a whole chicken to later EAT it. I'm sneering at my computer screen right now.

Daisy and Ryan said...


Actually, the prep work w/ the veggies and getting everything into the pot only takes a few minutes. You only quarter everything, so it takes a couple seconds for each veggie. Taking the chicken off the bone..that is more time, definitely. In the recipe, they just mention it like it's nothing...but it does take time. I won't pretend it doesn't.

This isn't like regular boiled chicken at all. It's SUPER good. Must be the fact that all the veggies and herbs are in there. Plus, the chicken cooks in there for a long time - no short-cutting it. ;) I don't know, but it is really good!

Samara said...

I love making broth at home. However, you can make it even cheaper. Just use the bones and skin from your chicken (after the family has had a nice baked chicken dinner), save them in the freezer until you have enough. Then cut the tops off of carrots, the tops off of the celery and the skin and the bottoms of the onions. You can also add tops of other veggies that you use, but those are my main ones. Then you get to eat the vegetables and use all the parts that you don't really eat any way. I chef in Louisville showed me this way of making "scrap" broth. It's turns out the same flavor without wasting any food.

Daisy and Ryan said...

I was first going to try making broth with the bones after eating the chicken...but I have a hard time dealing with the bones part. Ha! It's taken me a while to be ok with taking all the meat off of the bones doing it this way, and I'm still not loving it... Plus, I like how the chicken turns out. And this is the only chicken we ever buy with bones in it (if we get breasts, it's boneless, for example).

I wonder, though, about using a whole chicken (I mean, we cook it in the broth and then use it for other things, so it's not like we're wasting anything there) and then doing the veggies like you mentioned, though... I could definitely do that! Think it would work fine that way? That's pretty much what I do with the leek tops, so I'm not sure why I didn't think to do it with the other stuff. I even do that with some things for my veggie soup (not things I would throw away, but extras that are too much for a meal or leftover veggies that can be frozen and then tossed into the soup when I make it, I mean.)

Samara said...

You can make a veggie stock that way, by just omitting the chicken. So times I get the rotisserie chicken on sale, debone it (using the chicken for chicken salad) then throw in everything in to a stock pot for a few hours.

Samara said...

I also feel like cooking the chicken like that (a slow boil) can really deplete the flavor out of the chicken, but then I am boiling the chicken for 4-8 hours. Oh and you can do this in your crockpot.

Daisy and Ryan said...

Yeah, I'm only keeping the chicken in for an hour, just until it's cooked through. I think it tastes just fine when it's done that way, but it's not in there longer than that. And we're also typically eating it IN dishes, so...I guess if there was a little bit of difference, we're not able to tell.

Thanks for all the tips! I'm *definitely* keeping them in mind next time!! :)

Daisy and Ryan said...

If you do it in the crockpot, do you just keep it on low for about 8 hrs? I'm not sure how it would work with the chicken, if I'm cooking the chicken in it, but I'm interested b/c I know that would use less energy/electricity/etc. Just might make it that much easier!