Thursday, February 16, 2012

Traditional Slow Food: Chicken Broth

We've noticed one thing about traditional food: it requires planning and preparation. Unlike modern convenience food that can be whipped up in 20 minutes or less, traditional recipes requires diligent care and presence. However, that's not to say that they necessarily require an immense amount of involvement. Some of the best recipes we've discovered are those that need a long time to rise, soak, ferment or simmer...and not much else. One such recipe is chicken broth.

After evaluating grocery costs about a month ago, we realized that we were spending a ridiculous amount of money on broth. We eat a lot of soup in our family and generally you need some kind of base to make a flavorful product. Unfortunately, our soup habit (which we thought was quite economical) was racking up the tab. The obvious solution? Homemade broth, of course.

Like homemade bread, there's no turning back after homemade broth. Not only is it extremely economical, but it is absolutely delicious. It has amazing texture and flavor.  It is also immensely easy to make. We hope one day we can make it with chickens from our own yard, but until then we just use a regular old chicken from the grocery store. The recipe we use recommends using a whole chicken (if you live in Phoenix, you can find them at Pro's), but we haven't as of yet. When you're finished cooking the broth, you can of course keep the meat for other dishes throughout the week. And if you have babies at home, the cooked vegetables are ideal snacks for little ones. We also use it to cook rice, quinoa, and other grains, since it adds nutrients as well as flavor.


Chicken Broth Recipe from "Nourishing Traditions"

  • 1 whole free-range chicken or 2-3 pounds of bony chicken parts (necks, backs, breastbones, wings, or other chix scraps
  • gizzards from one chicken (optional)
  • feet from one chicken (optional)
  • 1 gallon cold filtered water
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar
  • 1 large onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 3 sticks of celery, roughly chopped
  • 1 bunch parsley
If you are using the whole chicken, cut off the wings and remove the neck, fat glands and gizzards from the cavity. By all means, use the chicken feet if you can find them. They are full of gelatin. If you can find it, use a whole chicken, with the head intact. You can sometimes find these in Oriental markets, but make sure you look for farm-raised, free-range birds for the best nutrition.
Cut the chicken parts into pieces – if you’re using a whole chicken, cut off the wings and the neck and cut those down. Put the chicken and/or chicken pieces in a large stainless steel stock pot and cover with the water, vinegar and veggies (minus the parsley). Let the mixture stand for 30-60 minutes. Bring to a boil and skim off any foam that rises to the top. Once you have that all skimmed, reduce the heat and cook (covered) for 6 hours to 24 hours. The longer the better – it will yield a much richer stock. About 10 minutes before the stock is done, add the parsley. The parsley is important because it adds mineral ions to the broth.
Let the broth cool slightly and then remove the chicken pieces with a slotted spoon or tongs. If you used a whole chicken, make sure you save the meat for casseroles or soup. The skin and small bones will be soft enough that you can feed them to your cat or dog without any harm. Strain the stock into another bowl and stick it in the fridge until the broth congeals and the fat rises to the top. Skim off the fat and reserve it for future projects.

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