Homemade Broth and What To Do With It
There's absolutely nothing wrong with using a boxed broth. I've found that some are better than others, but they are super convenient when putting together a multitude of meals, especially when making soup. They have a long shelf life and are nice to have in your food storage/pantry.
So if you're happy with your boxed broth, keep on keeping on.
But if you'd like to learn to make your own broth, I'm here to show you how easy it can be, and as with most homemade items, I promise it will taste better than the processed stuff you buy in the store. I became interested in making my own broth, years ago, when I watched The Barefoot Contessa on the Food Network. She always uses homemade broth when putting together her recipes. I love Ina Garten and everything I've ever made from her cookbooks is delicious! For this reason, I felt like I needed to make my own broth too, because Ina does.
Is broth and stock the same thing, you might be wondering? The main difference is that stock involves bones, simmered for a long time to extract their gelatin and flavor. For this reason, stocks are usually thicker and darker in color. I feel like what I make with my chicken and turkey bones is broth, but when I use beef soup bones, I call it stock. I oven roast those bones and veggies before I put them in the stock pot, and it makes the liquid richer. But today, we're going to work with chicken. It doesn't really matter what you call it, just know that it is liquid gold.
I also have a thing about food waste. When we are blessed enough to have good food in our kitchen, I think it's almost a sin to use it carelessly, which often results in throwing it in the garbage. Keeping chickens helps with this, because I feel less guilty if I can throw the stale bread or kitchen scraps to them. They love me for it and reward with the best eggs ever.
When you can take something you would normally throw away and repurpose it into a broth that will be put to good use in other recipes, that's exciting to me! I collect items in my freezer and when I have enough, I make broth. Here's how I do it.
Whenever I'm using fresh onions, carrots or celery in a recipe, instead of throwing away the peelings and the ends of the vegetables, I put them in a quart size freezer bag. You will be surprised how quickly these will add up.
I do the same things with the bones from roasted chicken or turkey. When you buy those rotisserie chickens, and have picked every last bit of meat off of it, save what's left in a freezer bag. When you have two or three and several bags of veggie scraps, you're ready to make a big pot of broth. This chicken below was leftover from Sunday dinner and still had a fair amount of meat on it. I picked off what I could and decided to make a pot of soup with the fresh broth. Why do I feel like this picture is almost obscene?
In a large stock pot, add the chicken bones and frozen veggies. Cover with water.
My herb garden is having a second harvest, hallelujah, so I'm adding some thyme and parsley.
I add some salt and pepper, cover with the lid and bring to a boil. Then I turn the temperature down to a simmer and let it cook for hours, stopping by the stove occasionally to give it a stir and make sure that there's plenty of water still in the pan. The longer it cooks the better it will taste, so let it cook for at least three or four hours if you can. Turn it off and let it cool a bit before you strain, so as not to burn yourself.
I put a colander in a bowl and scoop out the bones, veggies and any meat to discard. We've drawn out all the flavor from any meat that would've been left on the bones, and it's probably tough as a piece of leather at this point, so you wouldn't want to use it. It's time to let all this go!
Now you're ready to put all this glorious broth in containers. After it cools, you can skim the top layer of fat off the broth. It will last four or five days in the refrigerator or for months in the freezer. It's so nice to have good broth stashed in the freezer on a day when you want to make soup. When storing in the freezer, I usually use ziplock bags (for quick thawing) or plastic containers. I've had some breakage using my jars in the freezer, so beware of that.
Today, I'm using some of this good broth to make a pot of soup. I start with the big three (also know as mirepoix, if you want to get fancy) - onions, carrots and celery. Sauté in a little olive oil, butter or bacon fat (gasp!- it's good ya'll), for about ten minutes. Use a low temperature, so as not to brown the onions.
Add some of that yummy broth you made, or broth from a box.
Don't forget to take those veggie scraps and start a new bag for the freezer. Ahh, the circle of soup life. Just so you know, I'm humming Lion King songs as I type this.
After the soup simmers for about ten minutes, add the reserved chicken from that carcass you saved, and pasta or rice of your choice. I'm using orzo today. I especially like it in chicken soups.
When the pasta is tender, the soup is ready to eat. I like to add some freshly squeezed lemon juice to this to give it a Greek flair. It's so good. On a day when I had already planned to stay home and get some work done, I made a lovely pot of soup and a few jars of broth for later. I think that was good use of my time, don't you?
Of course you can use turkey in the same way, so if you don't make soup right away with your Thanksgiving bird, tuck it in the freezer to make broth on another day. Enjoy!