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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Nourishing Chicken Broth - with a secret ingredient!

This broth is nourishing because it contains vital minerals.  I posted on Monday about how my daughter got dehydrated one time, when she was sick.  I didn't give her Pedialyte; I gave her chicken broth.

A great step to take toward healthy living, is to make chicken broth at home and stop buying bouillon, or broth in cans or cartons.  They often contain MSG, artificial flavorings and colorings.

When I was newly married, I couldn't seem to make very good chicken broth.  I would put a whole chicken into a large dutch oven pan, and then fill to the brim with water.  I would simmer this most of the day and then take the chicken out, pull it off the bones, throw the bones out, and then add the chicken back to the water along with carrots, celery, onions, and some seasonings.  The broth was always colorless; it's flavor insipid.  I found myself adding bouillon to it for flavor--not healthy.

Later, I discovered how to really make great broth.  It all changed for me when I was reading a copy of Fine Cooking magazine.  Rose Levy Beranbaum (yes, of The Cake Bible fame) did an article on really great chicken broth.  Her secret was to reduce the broth down, by half, to intensify the flavors.  She also said to simmer it so long that the flavor will be zapped out of the chicken.  You end up throwing the chicken out, so rather than waste a whole chicken, I use carcasses.  You really don't need a lot of chicken to make broth, just a little meat, but the bones are important, they give flavor and minerals.

I buy whole chickens and cut them up for parts.  I save the carcasses for broth.  Place two carcasses in a large dutch oven pan and fill with water.  Bring it to a boil and then skim off the foam (see picture below.)

Add a splash (perhaps a 1/4 cup) Apple Cider Vinegar--this is the SECRET ingredient that will pull minerals out of the bones and infuse your broth, making it ultra-nourishing!  Also add a whole onion, preferable with the skin left on (it will naturally add a caramel color to the broth), a few stalks celery, a bay leaf, some peppercorns, a few cloves garlic--feel free to leave the skins on.  But use what you have.  These things add flavor, but I've done just chicken many times and it's flavorful, too.  Cover and simmer the rest of the day.  Note that this does not mean to leave the temperate all the way on low.  Simmering means you will see some bubbling action.  Remember, you want some of the liquid to evaporate, to make rich broth.  You can even leave it overnight.  If you're not comfortable leaving a burner on all night, you could put it in the crockpot.  This broth gets richer the longer you simmer it.  If you're going to simmer a really long time, you may want to add extra water, if the broth level gets below half.

When you are done simmering, strain the broth.  It's best to set your pan in a sink of ice cubes to bring the broth down to a manageable temperature.  You can use it in soups right away, or store in the fridge.  I store mine in mason jars.  According to Rose Levy Berenbaum, it will keep for three days, but if you want to keep it indefinitely, simmer it for 10 minutes every third day.  I'll admit, I keep it longer than three days, especially if it has a layer of fat on it.  I figure the fat layer is keeping all oxygen out. But I'm also the one that left my chicken broth on the counter to cool one evening and then found that it was still there the next morning at 6:00 a.m.!  We needed it for our dinner, so I put it back on the stove and boiled the heck out of it--which was about 30 minutes.  We didn't get sick.  To each his own.

You do have to think ahead to make this broth, but it's worth it.  What do you do if you are short on time?  The other day I wanted to cook chicken and dumplings, but at noon I realized I hadn't started broth.  What was I to do?

Short Cut
Pam Anderson taught me this shortcut, in one of her books.  Brown chicken pieces that you won't be eating, like backs and wing tips.  Here I have a carcass and a couple wing tips.  Brown them really well until you see browning on the pieces and lovely sucs in the pan (french term for the brown you see in the pan, below).  Then add water and any flavoring items and simmer.

I started this at 1:00pm the other day, and had dinner on the table by 5:30pm.  I probably browned the chicken for about a half hour, then simmered until about five, strained it and added it to the chicken and dumplings.

It was delicious!  I'll post the recipe soon.

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  1. Wow! That is a great idea about adding the ACV to the broth to pull out the minerals from the bones ~ Thanks!! We shall try that very thing this weekend because I am making a soup since our weather is due to turn very cold! :D

  2. You're very welcome! Mmmm, soup. It's turning cold here, too.

  3. I love it! Soup is so nourishing--for the body and soul.

  4. I wish I would have read this yesterday! I made turkey stock from Thanksgiving leftovers. I love the addition of the apple cider vinegar. I add the peels from sweet potatoes when cooking - it gives a fantastic hint of sweetness to the broth.

  5. Hate the background. makes it very hard to read.

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  7. thanks for the nourishing chicken broth article. please, get rid of this background)) - rohelper.com