I mention broth on here all the time, but I’ve never really posted the how-to. The good news: it’s really easy. The great news: it adds immeasurable flavor and nutrition to everything you make. I’ve adapted this very basic recipe from Nourishing Traditions:
1 chicken or turkey carcass, or 1-2 lbs of beef soup bones
Water enough to cover the bones
2 T. vinegar or acidic wine
1 onion, roughly chopped (optional)
2-3 of carrots, roughly chopped (optional)
Parsley, bay leaves, other herbs that you like (also optional)
Take a chicken or turkey carcass from a bird you’ve roasted (hey, I just realized how timely this post is), or some raw beef bones. You can also use raw poultry, but you will have to pull the meat off the bones later after it’s done boiling.
Place your bones and vegetables in a crock pot and cover with water. Add the vinegar. Cook on low for 12-24 hours. Add dried herbs like bay leaves when you have a 2-4 hours left. Add fresh herbs like parsley with 30-40 minutes left.
Turn off the crock pot and let it cool for an hour or two, so it will be easier to handle. Strain it through cheesecloth or a fine strainer (this is very important with poultry because of all the tiny little bones). The vegetables will be pretty much mush by now, but that’s OK since you were mostly after their flavor anyway. Place the strained broth in a bowl in the fridge until cold (several hours, or overnight). Skim off fat and impurities from the top, then freeze in ice cube trays. 5-6 cubes = about 1 cup.
Here’s how we usually do it: we roast a chicken for supper. We remove the drummies and wings completely, then cut off as much meat as we can from the carcass. We get the broth going in the crock pot and leave it all night and let it go all the next day, too. When Adam gets home at 4 p.m. or so the next day, he shuts off the crockpot. Then that evening we strain it and put it in the fridge. The next morning we skim it and put it in the ice cube trays. That night we transfer the cubes to freezer bags. So yeah, it’s a long process, but each step only takes a few minutes.
Stocks are SO good for you. Nourishing Traditions has several different stock recipes, and even calls for adding chicken feet if you can find them. They add extra gelatin to the broth, apparently. Did you know that gelatin is a huge boon to digestion? Also, cooking bones like this draws out minerals from the cartilage and marrow, turning them into easily-assimilated electrolytes. See the “Stocks” chapter in Nourishing Traditions for much, much more information. This recipe is a very simplified version of the ones found there.
So many recipes that we make call for stock, and it used to be frustrating to have to buy a whole can or carton of it when I only needed 1 cup. Now we just grab a few cubes out of the freezer when we need it. Adam has started adding stock to recipes that don’t even necessarily call for it, because it adds so much depth of flavor.
Update, Nov. 30, 2010: I finally got up the nerve to add chicken feet to my stock! Result: after refrigeration the stock looked like jello. I take that as a sign of the presence of gelatin. 🙂