Sunday, February 17, 2013

Chicken Stock or Bone Broth

When you’re trying to save on the food budget, it’s important not to waste anything. This goes for the bones, too. The bones from the chicken legs can be used to make chicken stock, or broth. Save up all of your bones in the freezer, and when you get a bunch of them (say, three pounds or more), make a big batch of stock and use it to make soup. Freeze the rest of the stock to use in soup later. The vinegar is to leach out the calcium and other minerals from the bones. You shouldn’t taste the vinegar in the stock or in the soups you make with it.

3 lbs or more chicken bones, either raw or previously cooked
            (or use backs and necks and wingtips)
½ onion
1 stalk celery
1 T white or apple cider vinegar
2 to 3 quarts water
1 T poultry seasoning (optional)
Parsley, pepper, thyme, or other herbs (optional)

On top of the stove: Put everything in a big pot. Bring to a slow boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for at least 4 hours. Strain. Refrigerate or freeze until ready to use.

In the slow cooker: Put everything in the slow cooker. Cook on low for at least 8 hours, preferably 12 or even 24. The longer the better. Strain. Refrigerate or freeze until ready to use.

You may think that the stock is blah if you taste it by itself. That’s because there’s no salt in it. You’ll need to add salt when you make the soup, probably more than the recipe calls for. Most recipes assume that you’ll use canned chicken broth or stock, and they tend to be pretty salty.

By the way, I include bones that I’ve chewed on. I make my stock in the slow cooker and cook it at least 24 hours. I figure that if there are any germs strong enough to survive that, they’re going to get me anyway! Out of consideration for the squeamishness of others, I wouldn’t use my chicken stock in a recipe that I’m serving to guests, and, unless they’re family, I wouldn’t use the bones that other people have chewed on. I’m sure they’d be safe and all, but I’m a bit squeamish, too.

I figure that the broth is free. Yes, there’s the cost of the onion, celery and herbs, but they don’t come to much. I make my broth in a 6-quart slow cooker and I usually get about eight pints of broth. That’s less than five cents a pint.

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