This is not a sexy recipe with inviting photos. As a matter of fact, some of the photos are downright unappealing. It is a really important recipe though. Bone broths made from chicken, beef, or fish bones have incredible health benefits and are a wonderful way to add flavor. Broth forms the basis for most soups and gravy. Homemade broth makes the simplest and most humble soup taste fantastic!
Homemade chicken broth (also called stock) sounds like a daunting proposition. I know because I used to feel that way. And even though the store bought kind has no nutritional value and usually tastes like salty water with a little bit of generic flavoring, that’s what I used to use. It wasn’t until I learned about the fabulous health benefits of homemade broth that I was moved to give it a try.
It’s so easy and efficient to make that now I always have some on hand in the freezer. If you have a large enough pot, you can double the recipe, which is what I do. That gives you twice as much for no more effort.
There are 3 options for making chicken broth, depending on what you have and if you want cooked chicken meat as a result. You can use leftover chicken bones from a previously cooked chicken, a whole raw chicken (and then you get yummy chicken meat for another dish), or inexpensive raw chicken parts.
In the raw chicken parts department, the bonier the cut the better. Chicken feet are especially good because they contain a lot of gelatin. I’ll just confess right now – they gross me out. They’re so graphic with the little toenails and all. I’m trying to get over it. And in case you share my feelings, I’m trying to help you get over it too. Which is why I include a picture of them in the recipe below! The good news is that you only see them for a second as you’re dumping them in the pot.
Here’s the overview: You simmer the chicken in a big pot of water, unattended for a day. Then strain it, cool it, divide it into containers or bags, and freeze it for up to a few months. That’s it. Straining it and washing the the pot (the strainer can go in the dishwasher) is the most time consuming part. Really.
The Weston A. Price foundation website www.westonaprice.org has this to say about bone broth:
“The storehouse of nutrients liberated from bone and connective tissues accelerates overall healing and supports our own bones, as well as teeth, joints, digestion and immunity. Properly prepared broth contains a generous amount of a wide range of minerals, such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and silica. Think of it as the ultimate multi-mineral “supplement.” Since these naturally derived minerals are extracted from bone, they are in an ideal balance and easily utilized by the body. Ramiel Nagel, author of the excellent book Cure Tooth Decay, asserts homemade broth is one of the most potent medicines for reversing and preventing tooth decay …
Gelatin is another superstar found in this traditional tonic. Although not a complete protein itself, gelatin allows the body to more fully utilize proteins from other foods…Gelatin also has a solid reputation for calming an irritated digestive tract and aiding digestion, as well as relieving peptic ulcers, infections, and even helping overcome cancer. The amino acid glycine, found in gelatin, specifically improves digestion by enhancing gastric acid secretion…Stomach acid is necessary for many functions, particularly digesting protein.11 Adequate acidity of the stomach is also critical for the absorption of many nutrients, such as calcium, folic acid, B vitamins and magnesium.
Also rendered from cartilage and tendons are chondroitin sulphate and glucosamine, nutrients with a stellar reputation for soothing arthritis and joint pain. Consuming “bone soup” every day will help tremendously in the repair and improvement of bone and tendon strength, skin, vessels, ligaments and cartilage. Finally, broth’s cold-healing ability is no wives’ tale…chicken soup elicits an anti-inflammatory effect on the body—mainly due to the mineral-rich stock of its base.”
- 1 whole fresh chicken or 3 pounds of bony chicken parts such as necks, backs, wings, and/or feet or chicken carcass from 1 or 2 roasted chickens; for turkey broth substitute turkey parts
- 6 quarts cold water
- 2 tablespoons vinegar, any kind except balsamic - (helps to draw minerals into the broth)
- 1 large onion, unpeeled and cut into 8 chunks
- 2 carrots, unpeeled and cut into quarters (optional)
- 3 celery stalks, cut into quarters (optional)
- 1 bunch parsley, rinsed and left on stems
- Place the all the ingredients in a large stockpot (10-12 quart pasta type pot).
- Bring to a boil over high heat. Remove scum that rises to the surface with a mesh strainer. Reduce heat, cover pot, and bring to a low simmer (there is movement on the surface but it isn't vigorous and definitely not boiling).
- If using a whole chicken: Simmer for 1 1/2 hours. Turn off the heat and let pot sit on stove. Remove chicken with a large slotted spoon or strainer to a bowl. It will be very tender and will probably fall apart. Don't worry. Just fish out the pieces. Liquid will drain off the chicken so make sure to put it into a bowl not a plate. When chicken is cool enough to handle, remove all the meat and reserve for something delicious like chicken salad. Save all the skin and bones and put back into the stock pot along with any liquid that has accumulated. Bring to boil, reduce heat, and continue with the recipe.
- If not using a whole chicken just simmer for about 18- 24 hours. Check on it after a few hours to make sure you've adjusted the temperature correctly for simmer. A little more or less time doesn't matter. About 10 minutes before finishing, add the parsley. This will impart additional minerals to the stock.
- Helpful hint: After you've figured out what setting on the stove dial is the right one for simmering the broth, note it. Next time you'll know exactly where to set the dial and won't have to wonder.
- Set a large strainer over a bowl or pot large enough to hold all the stock. Strain out solids, pressing with the back of a spoon to remove as much liquid as possible. Discard solids.
- Let bowl of broth cool on countertop. Cover with plastic wrap and put in refrigerator overnight. Skim off the fat that has congealed on the surface and reserve fat for cooking.
- Divide broth into plastic freezer bags or containers. I use 1 quart yogurt containers. Freeze until ready to use. May be frozen for several months.
- Note: the amount of broth will depend on how tight your pot lid is and how vigorously the broth simmered. If too much liquid evaporated, don't worry. Just thin the strong flavored broth by adding some water to taste before using.