In years' past, if we had a whole chicken for dinner, I would have thrown out the entire carcass and not thought a thing about it. But that changed a couple years ago. Now, there is abosolutely no way that I will throw out the chicken bones without at least trying to make some homemade chicken broth. It's a simple and very easy way to save a little off our grocery bill, and I'm definitely up for any proven cost-saving method I can get my hands on!
So last night, after supper was over and long after the kids went to bed, I spent some time in the kitchen getting ready to make chicken broth.
I took all the meat off the bones, and set the meat aside for two meals, Chicken Divan, and Chicken Shepherd Pie. I also prepared the bones and the crock-pot and made some homemade chicken broth.
The first step after deboning the chicken is to place all the bones, skin, whatever-you're-not-going-to-eat pieces into a large slow cooker. Now, this is the simplest method for making homemade chicken broth. Scroll down below for the recipe to making Chicken Stock, which involves a little more effort.
After putting the chicken bones, skin, etc., into the crock, cover everything with water. Put your cover on, set the temperature to "LOW" and simply forget about the crock. Well, not exactly. Depending on what time it is in the evening when you get your slow cooker prepared, you can finish out your evening, or go to bed.
While you're dreaming, the slow cooker will gradually pull out all the wonderful, yummy, delicious juices from the chicken bones creating a tasty "stock" that will be waiting for you when you wake up in the morning. And, more than likely, you will wake up to the sound of your stomach growling (like mine this morning) instead of your alarm clock!
So when you get up, turn off the crock. Get a ladel or large spoon, a wire mesh colander or strainer, and a few quart-size freezer bags. Use the ladel to scoop out all the bones, chicken pieces, etc., from the crock and dump them into the colander as you hold it over the crock-pot. Sorry, I didn't think to take any pictures of the whole process.
Dump the chicken pieces into a large plastic bag, tie it closed and place it into the garbage. You're done with them.
Your chicken broth will still be really hot, too hot for freezer bags, so place your crock-pot into the fridge to cool it off. This will also cause all the chicken fat to congeal and float on top of the broth, so you can easily skim it off with a spoon later in the day when you're ready to finish packaging your broth. See below:
After skimming off the chicken fat, you're ready to bag some broth. Grab a few quart-size freezer bags, label & date them, and fold over the top edges. This helps prevent spillage from getting all over the bags. You might spill some, but I find this helps keep the bags from getting too messy.
Using a measuring cup, measure out 2 cups of broth for each freezer bag. Squeeze out the air, seal and lay flat, then freeze. And you're done!
To thaw, simply place a bag of broth onto a plate in the fridge and allow to thaw for 24 hours. Your homemade chicken broth is perfect as a starter for homemade soup, or a great substitute for water when you cook rice.
So as promised, here's the recipe for a "suped up" version of Homemade Chicken Broth. We'll call it Chicken Stock to differentiate between the two. :)
1 tsp olive oil
1 onion, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup coarsely chopped leaves and tops of celery
1 cup coarsely chopped carrots
carcass from whole chicken, or 1 lb chicken backs and necks
1 bay leaf
2 sprigs thyme or 1 tsp dried
4 sprigs parsley or 2 Tbsp dried
6 black peppercorns or 1 tsp ground black pepper
2 whole cloves
8 cups water
Directions:Pour the oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add the onion, celery and carrots and fry to release their voatile oils, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken parts, bay leaf, thyme, parsley, peppercorns and cloves. Pour in the water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 2-4 hours, adding more water if necessary. Skim off any form that rises to the surface. Pour through a fine strainer, discard the solids. Strain off all the fat.
Remember that regardless of which method you use to make your homemade chicken broth, it can be frozen for up to 6 months. Enjoy your homemade broth! ;)