Saturday, January 21, 2012

National soup month advice: make chicken bone broth part of your food secure diet

 A bowl of velvety chicken bone broth
Everyone should know that chicken soup is good medicine, a nourishing tradition passed on from one generation to the next within many families. Good chefs also know that chicken broth forms the backbone of exceptionally delectable sauces, stews, and other culinary delights.

Although restaurant chefs might use whole chicken to prepare their broth, a more frugal approach takes advantage of the bones from previous chicken meals. It is amazing how much substance and nutrition is left in these often-discarded remains.

Chicken bone broth is rich in minerals, amino acids, and gelatin, the later being especially good for maintaining skin and digestive health. In fact, the sign of an exceptional broth is one that gels once finished cooking and in the refrigerator.

Here’s how I do it. If you can’t cook without following a recipe with precise ingredients, you’ll have to look elsewhere.

My husband never thought I would actually use this enormous stock pot.
Collect the carcasses of chickens in the freezer in freezer bags until you run out of room. Use all parts of the bird including organs, except the liver, which you can reserve for some other use. Also save carcasses, necks, hearts, and gizzards from other poultry, including your Thanksgiving turkey. The more bones used per batch of soup, the richer your broth will be.

Fill the pot with as many bones as you have saved.
Place the bones in a large stock pot and cover with cold water. I use an All Clad 24-quart stainless steel stock pot, my one extravagance.

Bring the water to a boil and then lower the heat. Skim off and discard any scum that has surfaced to the top.

Add one large onion (peeled and cut in half), several sticks of celery including any leafy tops, a couple of carrots, a bunch of Italian flat leaf parsley (minus the rubber band), a couple of large bay leafs, a few peppercorns, and a dried hot red pepper such as chile de árbol. A few sprigs of thyme make a nice addition if available.

Simmer on low heat just high enough to keep the surface of the soup bubbling, for several hours. My broth-in-the-making usually simmers for at least 12 hours, overnight. Long slow cooking extracts all the flavor from the ingredients, making for a rich and savory soup.

Once cooked, strain the liquid into a new pot.
Once off the stove, let the soup cool enough to handle. Strain the liquid through a fine mesh sieve such as a Chinois and refrigerate. The chicken grease will rise to the surface of the pot and congeal. Scoop this off and discard (or if you're really frugal, save it for cooking).

If there is too much soup for you to consume before the batch sours, freeze the chicken bone broth in smaller batches. I have had good luck freezing broth in 1-quart-sized wide-mouth mason jars, provided that each jar is filled up only to the point where the sides of the jar are still straight, not tapered. Otherwise, the frozen contents will expand and crack the glass in the freezer. Alternatively, doubled up freezer baggies work, but they are awkward to handle full of liquid and might end up on the floor.

Typical yield from one batch of chicken bone broth
Now you are left with a pile of cooked bones. If you have a pet that eats meat, it is well worth the effort to separate and reserve everything that is soft and edible (the large bowl on the right) from everything that is still hard and inedible and to be discarded (the smaller bowl). You will find that many small bones are soft enough to crumble between your fingers. Do so and add to the bowl of pet food. My dog is best behaved when she knows I am preparing this food for her.

As for dinner, the broth is delicious as is; just add salt to taste. Or add your favorite soup fixings and you’re ready to go. Plus, if you’re home sick with a cold, just thaw one of the frozen jars of broth for a comforting, nutritious, and tasty remedy.

This recipe is not just for National Soup Month. Advocates of Nourishing Traditions recommend making chicken bone broth part of your daily diet.

Enjoy this? Then share the link and comment below, even if only to say "Hi!" 

You might also be interested in Donna’s other work as National Food Security Examiner, National Science News Examiner, Long Beach Urban Agriculture Examiner, and founder and executive director of Long Beach Grows.

Copyright © 2012 Donna Marykwas; All rights reserved.

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