Chicken broth...so easy...so good...so nutritious...so practical...why would you not give a try?
I've written before, cooking with whole chickens used to intimidate me, as did making bone broth. But once I finally tried it I realized I'd unlocked a gold mine to simplified meal planning and even saving money. Buying quality chicken broth from the store typically costs at least $5/quart. I usually generate 14 cups of broth per one whole chicken--that's an extra $17.50 value I'm getting out that chicken! Totally worth it. Plus, by using a pasture-raised bird, I gain confidence in the nutrition yield of the final product.
Here's a simplified meal plan idea to get the most for your time & money from 1 whole pasture-raised chicken:
1. Roast a whole chicken (or make in crock pot) for one meal. See my favorite roasting recipe by clicking here.
2. Save all leftovers--any skin, bones, fat & carcass for making broth. To save time, throw these leftovers in the crock pot to cook overnight with a few veggies (recipe below). Awake to nourishing broth ready for use. (Note: you can also freeze chicken carcass if you'd prefer to delay making stock).
3. If you have leftover chicken meat, save to use in soup or casserole that week, or freeze shredded meat for future use.
4. Now that you have delicious broth, use during the week to cook rice, quinoa or in whatever recipe calls for stock (or where you can replace water with stock). I typically follow up a roasted chicken meal by making soup with a chicken stock base (chicken noodle, chicken tortilla, two-bean kale, brunswick stew, etc.)...and meal #2 is complete. I love making soup because it's usually simple and I can stretch it to make it meal #3 too (or at the very least, lunch the next day!).
And now for the recipe...This is a very simple, fool-proof version. It takes little time & effort effort--anyone can do it!
1. Add leftover chicken parts to crock pot (any bone, skin, fat, carcass). (Note: you can also make this in stock pot on stove if you are around to attend during the day.)
2. Add in chopped veggies. I usually add 2 stalks celery, 2 carrots & 2 small onions.
3. Cover with cold water (I usually add water until pot is nearly full).
4. Add 2 T of vinegar. This aids in drawing minerals out from bones.
5. Cook on low for 8+ hours. I typically turn it on and let it cook overnight.
6. Add one bunch of parsley for the last 20 minutes of cooking broth. This also aids in adding minerals to broth.
7. Once broth is cooled, strain and store. I typically pour broth over a strainer in 2 batches with an 8-cup measuring bowl underneath. I then store stock in a glass jar if I plan to use it within the week. For portions I want to freeze, I'll store in ice trays, jars or other freezer-safe containers.
Note: Add salt to taste and other spices if desired. I typically have enough salt leftover from my roasted chicken to flavor my broth well, and I add a bit more if needed. Also, if you're feeling a bit adventurous, add 4 chicken feet while making stock to aid in adding extra gelatin (the more the stock gels when it cools the better).