Nourishing Chicken Broth
The old wives had it right! Broths and stocks are so nourishing and healing. While chicken is the standard and may add a layer of nostalgia, vegetables broths and other stocks certainly earn their place on the well-nourished table.
Today… Chicken stock and broth.
Which factors differentiate a stock from a broth are debatable. In my view, terms are much less important than results. It is better to understand the product.
Bones (and cartilage and skin) provide gelatin which thickens the stock and gives it body. The result is a richer, thicker mouthfeel. The term for simmering bones, with little or no meat and flavorings, then straining the liquid, is generally regarded as “stock”.
Meat provides flavor. Simmered meat, with seasonings, to enrich water, is generally regarded as “broth”. The strained liquid will be thinner, but very flavorful.
When making your broths and stocks, you decide. Throw in anything you like. It’s your creation.
Store-bought Stocks and Broths
- When it comes to store bought stocks and broth, in my experience, definitions pretty much go out the window. They generally are thin and flavor varies. When using store-bought, I opt for an organic brand and then transform the flavor.
What goes in?
Collagen in bones is beneficial for skin and bone health. As we grow older, we tend to lose collagen, resulting in wrinkling and joint issues. Collagen can also be important for people with connective tissue issues, like EDS (Ehlers Danlos Syndrome).
Collagen gelatanizes and makes the stock rich, thick, and delicious.
Money-Saving Tip: Buy whole chickens and collect bones in a plastic freezer bag. Keep frozen until you are ready to make stock.
Meat brings flavor. If you are making a chicken noodle soup, or want to simmer chicken for a dish, like BBQ Pulled Chicken, go ahead and throw in the whole bird. You will get a thin broth, which you can use many ways.
For flavor and nutrition, carrot, celery, onion, and garlic are standard. Depending on what your broth will be used for, feel free to throw in any other vegetable you have on hand. I have thrown in kale, parsnips, and just about anything else that needed to be “used while it is still good”.
Wash your veggies, but there is no need to peel them. A lot of nutrition lives in carrot peels. You bought the carrot; you can use the peel.
Tip: If you feed scraps to your sweet dog, be careful of what you include in the broth. For example, onion is not recommended for a doggie diet. You can always add it in later to your soup, stew, or sauce.
Carrots, however, are great for dogs. My little dog will only eat carrots that come from my chicken broth. She LOVES stock and broth days.
Nutrition and flavor enhancers
If you are all about maximizing the nutrition you get from every bite, either bay leaves or a piece of kombu should go into every broth you make. Bay leaves and kombu break down the other ingredients as they cook, making the nutrients in them even more bioavailable. In other words, you will increase the nutrition you get from each bite.
Basic Nutrient-Rich Chicken Broth
- chicken bones (with or without meat attached)
- water – enough to cover chicken
- vegetables – recommended: 1-2 carrots, 1-2 celery stalks, 1 onion, 2-3 cloves garlic
- 1-2 bay leaves or one strip of kombu (an inch or two)
- optional: dried herbs, to taste (thyme is very good)
- optional: salt and pepper, to taste
Place chicken bones into a large stock pot and cover with cool water. Rough chop vegetables into large pieces and add them in. Add bay leaves or kombu. Add seasonings, if desired.
Bring pot to a boil. Reduce to simmer. Cover and simmer for at least 45 minutes, or up to 2 1/2 hours. After about 2 to 2 1/2 hours, you have extracted just about all the flavor you are going to get.
With a large spoon, skim fat and any scum off of the top. (There should not be scum if you have slow simmered the broth.) Through a fine-mesh strainer, strain out the liquid into a large bowl.
If you are making your broth in advance, you can cool the broth and refrigerate it. If you do this, you do not need to skim the fat because it will separate itself as the broth cools. You then need only to remove the chilled fat from the top and discard it.
Your broth is ready for a plethora or recipes. Use immediately, or refrigerate, or freeze.
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