Let the recipes begin…Basic Chicken Broth – January 26, 2012
I have followed some of the famous cooking blogs, such as “Confessions of a Pioneer Woman” by Ree Drummond at http://thepioneerwoman.com for years. As I begin to share my recipes and thoughts on food I want to begin with a few disclaimers. I have loved to cook for the majority of my life. I love to host parties, plan menus, decorate, buy the cute matching dishes, and all that goes along with it. In some circles I may even be known as a “Hostess with the Mostest”. However, given the fact that I live in a TINY seminary housing apartment and the best camera that I have in my unemployed possession is the camera on my phone – these pictures will definitely not be the quality of my Pioneer Woman companion! That said I hope that you will enjoy seeing the process that I use in making the base for 3 of our favorite soups (soup recipes coming soon). I am trying this picture idea out with my Basic Chicken Broth recipe to see how it goes. I use this basic chicken broth not only as a base for my soups, but in tons of different recipes because it adds a ton of wonderful flavor.
Why start with soups? Great question! Meal planning has always been a big part of our world since the beginning of our marriage. As I’ve mentioned in the past we have both always worked full time jobs and gone to school full time for the last almost 10 years now. So without some intentional planning we would be eating out almost every meal. A revelation about my husband early in our marriage was his absolute love for soups. I didn’t really grow up eating too many homemade soups outside of the frequent pot of “Yankee” chili during the cold Ohio winters. So as a new wife I began to learn and love soups. A big pot of soup will usually have between 8-10 servings and this translates in our family of 2 into 4-5 meals. My soup journey began with making a big pot every Sunday evening along with preparing a normal meal. The soup wouldn’t be eaten then but was in preparation for our week. It allowed for several easy, hot, healthy, homemade, and convenient meals and has become part of our repertoire since then.
Ok, on with the food. I am going to share how I prepare a basic Chicken broth. I am going to use this broth in the three soup recipes that I will share with you soon. I choose the make the broth over buying it in the box for three reasons: 1. I save money, 2. Homemade has much better flavor, 3. Homemade allows me to control how much fat & sodium are in my soup. When preparing a chicken broth you have the liberty to add many different ingredients to enhance the flavor. As I will be using this in three totally different flavors of soups I am keeping it very basic and simple and will be adding more “flavoring” agents directly to each individual soup recipe. Please note it is best if you are planning to make a soup that you prepare this broth at least one day in advance.
To begin you will need the following:
-A large stock pot or crock pot to cook it in. Size should be enough for your meat, veggies, and at least 8-10 cups of water. The larger the pot the more broth you will make.
-As for the chicken I am using a family size package of chicken leg quarters because they were only $0.88 a pound. I will also use a whole chicken, chicken thighs, or split chicken breast depending what is on sale.
A large onion, 4-5 unpeeled carrots, 4-5 stalks of celery preferably with the leaves on. These veggies just need to be rinsed well and cut into a good size to fit into the pot. You don’t have to be fussy about chopping or peeling anything. These are just basic flavor agents.
3 chicken bouillon cubes, 8-10 cups of water. This is where some of my sodium control comes in. Adding bouillon cubes will enhance the flavor of the broth and will be the only salt item that I add. With a pot this size I use 3 cube of this brand.
So now that we have all the players in place let’s begin with putting ½ of the veggies in the bottom of the pot. One of my planning tools also including my well worn crock pot. I have set this to cook Sunday morning while we are at church and I can leisurely complete the process later this afternoon. If you don’t have a crock pot the same process is easily done with a large stock pot on the stove and we’ll get to more on that in a bit.
Next I will rinse and trim the chicken. I am only trimming the huge chucks of fat (pictured on the left side of my cutting board) that are visible on the back of the leg quarter. After this has cooked I have a great trick to share that will easily remove all the remaining fat from the broth. Again this doesn’t need to be a fussy process.
Next add the chicken to the crock pot
Next add the remaining veggies over the top of the chicken so that all the chicken gets exposure to our flavoring agents. Crumble the bouillon cubes and add water till you reach the top of the pot.
I set me crock pot on the 4-6 hour setting depending on how much meat I am preparing. If you are doing this on the stove in a stock pot you will want to bring the completed above preparation to a boil first for about 20 minutes and then turn it down to simmer on medium/low heat for at least 4 hours.
When cooking is complete and the broth has developed nicely after at least 4-6 hours this is what product should look like.
Another part of the beauty in this process is that the chicken will be used in my chicken soup recipe so nothing goes to waste in this process and my grocery budget is maximized. You will remove & discard the veggie flavor agents that have completed their work. Place the hot chicken in a collinder to cool so that it can be deboned.
After everything is removed from the pot you will have a wonderful rich color broth remaining.
Laddle every little bit of the broth into convenient *plastic* containers. There may be small pieces of chicken & other bits that add tremdous flavor to the soup so definitely don’t discard that. Plastic is important if you are going to freeze the broth as I will be for future use because glass doesn’t always freeze well. I find these tall narrow containers work really well and fit easily into the door of my freezer.
Do you notice the distinct color difference due to the separation of oil at the top of the chicken broth container? As I mentioned earlier if possible it is best to make the broth the day before you want to cook one of your soups. This fat separation is the reason that early preparation is necessary. As this broth cools either in the freezer or the refrigerator the fat will solidify into a white waxy substance at the very top of the container that will easily be scraped off and discarded.
This is the most efficient way that I have found to remove the fat from a homemade chicken broth. That leaves you with a beautiful, rich, flavorful broth that is practically 100% fat free. Check out the before & after below
So that is my Basic Chicken Broth recipe. Pretty simple huh? The difference is flavor is huge compared to what you can buy in the grocery store. Coming soon are three of our favorite healthy, low fat soups: Veggie & Lentil, Ground Turkey & Veggie “Yankee” Chili, and my famous Homemade Chicken Noodle. Each of these recipes has a totally different flavor profile and this basic chicken broth works perfectly in each!