I know that you are all anxiously awaiting the recipe and tutorial for the ballerina doll cake I shared on Facebook earlier this week. However, I am going to have to postpone if for just a bit. You see, after speaking to two separate MOPS groups yesterday, it occurred to me that I’ve never shared my basic homemade chicken broth recipe on Healthnut Foodie. Superior in flavor and nutrition over the boxed variety, making homemade chicken broth is an easy way to cut down on your family’s grocery bill, while simultaneously adding extra nutrients to any recipe you use it in!
Homemade chicken broth is one of the staples I try to keep stocked in our freezer at all times, but especially this time of year. At the first sign of cold or flu symptoms, pull it out and get your whole family drinking like crazy. When made from the leftover carcass of chicken (including any skin, meat bits, and juices), homemade broth is a great way to restore lost minerals, electrolytes, and amino acids to your body. When purchasing your chicken, be sure to choose an organic or sustainably raised local one. This broth is made is by using a long simmer time to extract every bit of nutrition possible from the bones. If you use a factory farmed chicken injected with antibiotics and fed a diet high in genetically modified grains, you will be infusing your broth with all of the toxins given to the chicken as well.
Purchasing whole chickens (over boneless, skinless chicken breasts) is also one of the ways our family is able to eat organically on a budget. Here’s how we do it. The first night, we roast a chicken alongside seasonal vegetables. When everyone has had their fill, we shred the remaining meat, and freeze it in 3-cup increments for future meals. (Three cups is the equivalent of one pound of cooked chicken breast, which is the amount most recipes call for.) Next, we follow the recipe below to turn our leftover carcass into three quarts of chicken stock. This method serves our family of four three separate chicken dinners, and provides three quarts of broth, all for the cost of a $10.00 organic chicken. If we were to purchase three pounds of organic chicken breasts, and three quarts of organic boxed broth, the same amount of food would cost around $30.00. Just by putting in a little bit of extra effort twice a month, I am able to save our family $40.00 a month without sacrificing the quality of our food. The time has come to think beyond the breast!
Basic Homemade Chicken Broth
Ingredients (Makes 3 quarts):
1 leftover chicken carcass (plus all remaining bones, skin, and drippings)
3 celery stalks
1 head garlic
12 – 14 peppercorns
2 tsp sea salt
Any additional vegetable scraps. See notes below.
Instructions (12 – 24 hours, 5 minutes active):
Place chicken carcass and all remaining bones, skin, and drippings in slow cooker. Cover with three quarts of filtered water. Coarsely chop 3 carrots and 3 stalks celery. Cut onion into wedges. Cut the top 1/2 inch off head of garlic, just enough to expose the cloves. (It is unnecessary to peel vegetables.) Add prepared vegetables, peppercorns, and sea salt to pot and cover.
Turn slow cooker to low and simmer for 12 – 24 hours, whatever is most convenient for your schedule.
After the broth has finished simmering, strain with a mesh strainer, allow the broth to slightly cool, and then refrigerate. As the broth cools, the fat will naturally separate and rise to the surface. You can either stir it back in before freezing, or store the fat it in a separate glass container to use in place of butter or oil when sauteing veggies, eggs, or grains. (That saves me even another dollar!)
Freeze chilled broth by the quart in a labeled and dated freezer bag for up to three months. When defrosted in the fridge overnight, this broth can be used cup for cup in any recipe calling for canned or boxed broth. It also makes a great base for risottos, quinoa, and couscous. Enjoy!
Notes: This recipe is naturally gluten-free, dairy-free, and nut-free. Vegetarians can follow the same method omitting the chicken and increasing the vegetables. To take the nutrient profile up another notch, save the vegetable scraps that you accumulate throughout the week in a gallon size freezer bag. When you go to make your broth, you can add the contents of the bag with the rest of the ingredients. We like to add kale stems, parsley stems, (organic) potato peels, fennel tops, asparagus ends, and pretty much any odds or ends that would otherwise have been sent to the compost pile. All of these things are great for adding nutrients without negatively affecting the flavor of the broth.
Our favorite way to roast chicken is on page 48 of my cookbook, Feeding our Families: Bringing back the made-from-scratch family dinner. You can learn more and order your secure copy using Paypal by clicking here.