Sometime last year, I became really uncomfortable with canned goods. I’d been in the process of “healthy-fying” the contents of my refrigerator and pantry, replacing my standard eggs with cage free ones, dumping the standard milk for organic, etc. I finally reached the cabinet stacked with cans upon cans of beans, tomato paste, and chicken broth and thought to myself, “Hey self. How can you make this stuff better?”
I’m not neurotic about grass fed beef and organic produce. I’m just interested in feeding my family things that aren’t ridden with unnecessary pesticides and preservatives. Forget convenience. I started making beans in bulk and freezing them, and stopped buying them in cans. I switched to organic tomato sauce and paste. And I started making my own chicken and beef stock.
Initially, it seemed a little intimidating, but after making my first batch I’ve never turned back. I use chicken broth in so many recipes, and it just makes so much more sense both in the interest of my family’s health and our grocery budget. At about a dollar a can, I was spending so much on those cans of chicken and beef stock! Dollars that have since been better spent on other awesome food things. Now every few weeks I just cook up a quick batch of stock, and always have it on hand.
What You’ll Need:
A 4-6 quart stockpot (or the largest one you can get your hands on)
Leftover chicken bones or pieces
Three large carrots, cut into thirds
Three large onions
Three celery stalks
Two or three garlic cloves
Two tablespoons of vinegar (preferably cider, but white works fine)
A couple of bay leaves
Sprinkling of peppercorns (optional)
What To Do:
First, prep your vegetables. Rinse and chop your celery stalks and carrots into thirds. Peel and quarter your onions. Peel and smash your garlic cloves. Toss the prepared vegetables and chicken pieces/bones in the pot.
Add your bay leaves and peppercorns, then vinegar, then water. Bring the pot to a boil over high heat. Once it reaches a boil, reduce to a simmer and cover. Let the pot simmer for at least an hour, but you can let it go for up to three. The longer it simmers, the more developed the flavor of your stock.
Once you’ve had enough simmering, let the pot cool for about half an hour. Strain the stock into large plastic containers, and allow to cool before refrigerating. When I sometimes make way too much, I transfer to plastic freezer bags and toss them in the freezer. They’re good there for about six months.
- After having a roast chicken for dinner, reserve the backbone or any other pieces that haven’t been chewed or nibbled on. Collect them in a freezer safe bag for when you’re ready to make a batch.
- Chicken gizzards or the innards can work in a pinch, although using pieces as well as bones make for a more flavorful, well-developed stock, so try to at least include some type of bone. Also, roasting the bones before using them in the stock result in a deeper flavor, just takes a few extra minutes!
- Once the stock is cooled and refrigerated, a layer of fat will solidify and settle on the top of the stock. It doesn’t look very pretty, but unless you’re using the entirety of the stock in the next several days, I wouldn’t scoop it off or discard. The fat layer on top helps preserve the stock for longer in your refrigerator. When measuring out your stock for recipes, just don’t use the solidified fat.