In the past, when friends suggested that I make my own chicken broth, I would nod politely but mentally add it to a list that included “churn butter” and “make all our clothes” (note: I do not possess a butter churn nor a sewing machine). In other words, “Things That Will Not Happen in This Lifetime.”
A dear friend even gave me a bunch of turkey bones after Thanksgiving so that I could try making broth, but after optimistically storing them in our freezer for about a week, I finally (quietly, head held low) took the bones out to the trash.
And then I ran across this recipe for making chicken broth in a slow cooker. As I have confessed previously, I loooove my slow cooker, so finding a new use for it was the final push I needed to give homemade chicken broth a try.
And it was so easy! Not only that, it added so much flavor to my soups and stews that it was well worth the little trouble it took to make.
Previously, I used Better Than Bouillon, which I still recommend in a pinch, but nothing can substitute for the real thing. Please note: chicken broth (or stock) is not chicken soup. Trust me, you do not want to eat this on its own. Instead, add it to soups and stews for extra flavor. I’ve also substituted it for some of the water when making rice, which was really wonderful.
One thing that had held me back was the fact that so rarely have chicken bones. A long time ago I decided it was worth the expense to buy boneless, skinless chicken, even more so now that I have to split my time in the kitchen between cooking and running after my little Monkey.
Along those lines, I also came across a great post from The Sweet Beet about using vegetable scraps to make vegetable stock. The idea is that as you chop vegetables for cooking, you save the scraps in the freezer to use when cooking your stock. You can also save eggshells for a little added calcium. I decided to give it a try, with great results! Since I only need to make a batch of broth once every couple months, I actually don’t need to save scraps very often. I have found that a quart-size ziploc bag of vegetable scraps was plenty for one batch of chicken stock.
Ready to give it a try? Here’s how it’s done:
1. Put chicken bones in the slow cooker,
along with 6 cups of water and a tablespoon of basil.
2. If using vegetable scraps, add now.
Otherwise, add 2 stalks of chopped celery, 2 chopped carrots, and 1 quartered onion.
3. Cook on low for 8-10 hours. (I usually do 8 hours).
4. Let cool, then strain. (Warning: the smell is very strong!)
Discard vegetables and bones.
5. To save stock for later, pour into ice cube trays and freeze.
I typically use one cube per dish (two if I am make a really large batch of something).