Search This Blog

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Liquid Gold

OK -- so maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration, but I sure do find it handy to have homemade chicken broth around. As part of my diet for this pregnancy I have to avoid all MSG and anyone that knows anything about MSG knows that the common nuerotoxin is named many things and has many pseudonyms, and is in TONS of things you would never even think of. Chicken broth is one thing that is next to impossible to find without MSG. For more info check out this website -- Even chicken broths labeled NO MSG have MSG in another form in them. Even some organic chicken broths have MSG in them. So the easier thing to do is to make chicken broth myself -- something I never really did much of before. I always used the bullion cubes that they sell at Sam's in big containers for broth-- but no more. And honestly it's pretty easy to make. So here's how I do it.
You'll need:
-A big pot for the stove-- the bigger the better (remember I feed 7)
-water to fill the pot
-chicken bones, turkey bones, beef bones, or a package of cheaper chicken drumstick or wings, or you can use more pricey cuts -- but the bones add nutrients and flavor so you should have some bones in there somewhere. **Chicken bones or other bones can also be frozen and saved for broth making when you have time for it at a later date-- I use mine straight from the freezer sometimes-- no need to thaw them.
-a bag of vegetable trimmings ( I keep mine in the freezer, asparagus ends, onions ends and skins, little bits of carrot peels, celery leaves and ends, potato peels, green onion tops, whatever.) --or -- an onion (skins on, root end cut off), a stick or two of celery and a couple of carrots-- no need to chop these any more than in half, or fourths. The more veggie pieces you have the better the flavor of the broth-- the onion skins lend some flavor but mostly color to the broth.
-herbs: Bay leaves-- dried (1 or 2), whole peppercorns -- maybe 3-6 (or you can use ground pepper you just won't have "pretty clear" broth), garlic clove or two --depending on how big the pot is, I use fresh parsley, thyme and sage when the garden is going, but in the winter I use dried sage, and some parsley.
-salt -- I add this as I use it, not while cooking. Salt intensifies as the broth cooks and I've found it easier to wait to salt it when I'm making the end product--soup, gravy, whatever.

Put everything into the pot and simmer it on the stove for about an hour or two. If you simmer it all day or very long you'll have cloudy stock and it really doesn't take long to get the flavor out of the bones and veggies. You can do it in a crock pot if that is easier but wouldn't leave it more than about 4-6 hours on low. I don't use mine cause it doesn't make as much that way -- I have big stock pots (22 qt ). Once it's done cooking I let it cool a bit and then pour it through a plain ol' colander into another pot or bowl and put it into whatever storage containers I want to use. Purists might shudder at the fact that I don't roast my bones before I boil them --(adds more flavor) and that I don't strain it through cheesecloth to remove all the little bits of stuff, but I tend to be more lazy than all that -- and find that for my purposes this is all I really need to do. You can freeze it in quart size containers, in ice cube trays -- for little bits of broth to use here and there, or in larger baggies laid flat in the freezer-- sometimes these spring a leak when thawing so that's not my favorite way. You can use it right away for soup. I really prefer to can mine and do it in large large batches so I have it ready to use with no thawing-- but that does require a pressure canner. If your broth gets thick like gelatin -- don't worry about it, just heat it up again and it will liquefy.
** Another tip ** If you refrigerate your broth for a few hours after making it and before freezing it, you can skim off any fat that might settle on the top of it and solidify.

No comments: