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how to make chicken broth a habit

The capacity and space to make chicken broth from scratch part of my life rhythm took YEARS. I just recently noticed that every time I need some broth or stock, I actually have some. How did this happen? 

I accidentally made my first bone broth before I had children, and as we know, that is a lot of years ago now that I’m counting. But something as simple as boiling meat and vegetables felt unattainable at specific points in my life. Sometimes it was the expense up front (while one can argue that it’s cheaper to make your own) and other times it just became the convenience of needing broth now, and the time it would take to make. 

I was once following a recipe for homemade chicken noodle soup, and before I realized what was happening with the first of the two chickens required, it asked me to throw away all the meat and bones I had just simmered for hours. What?! The waste! I read the recipe over again to be sure, but since I had scribbled down the recipe from a Barnes & Noble visit in my journal (before smartphones, people), my notes or the author had not adequately explained why. For example, this is going to draw out all the delicious and nutritious bits from your chicken, bones, and vegetables and create the richest broth you have ever tasted in your life, that would have helped my guilt just a bit. 

Instead, I scooped up some simmered chicken, thinking I could have some for lunch. Ha, no. It was tasteless, dry meat. So I reluctantly threw the first round of solids and simmered in the new chicken and fresh veggies? Ethereal. For the first time, I realized that simple soup could be both earthy and high-class. And healing. And worthy of gifting to your favorite people and guests.

I’m always curious about how or why certain habits stick. For me, it is all about timing. When you are in survival mode, making things like chicken broth ahead of time is nearly impossible and quite possibly NOT your next best thing.

Building a rhythm takes time and space to plan, but if you have a nudge to do it or a friend to make it with, here are my monthly and weekly steps to make chicken broth a habit:

Monthly

Once a month, I make a version of Ina Garten’s Chicken Stock. I’ve never bought or fit three chickens into a stockpot as the recipe suggests. Up until this past year, I was always making stock in my 8-quart All-Clad stockpot. I could fit one chicken and would add water as it cooked down. This spring I decided to buy a cheaper but larger stock pot to see how much I would use it before I invested and added to my All-Clad collection. I purchased this Rachael Ray Enamel on Steel 12-Quart Covered Stockpot, Red Gradient, and my friend Nicolle bought this Cuisinart one. For now, I’m getting all my money’s worth out of this $33 find, and I love the size. Nicolle had to return hers for leaking on the rim, ok? 

Weekly

1. Every week I roast at least 2 large bone-in skin-on chicken breasts. Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly rub two skin-on bone-in chicken breasts with olive oil, sprinkle them with salt and pepper, and roast for 35 minutes. If the breasts are unusually large, I give it five more minutes for juices to run clear, or you can check the temperature.

Cool, debone, and save meat for snacks, salads, or meal prep. Toss the bones, skin, and meat juices in a freezer jar or bag. This chicken is so juicy!

2. Secondly, anytime I roast a whole chicken, I save the bones and toss it in with the freezer collection. I even leave meat on bones knowing it’s going to go to good use later. This excites me so much–no waste, no worry!

3. Once a week when I’m at home doing something in the kitchen, preferably morning, I’ll pull out my stock pot.

  • Add the frozen or fresh chicken pieces, an unpeeled onion and garlic head halved, veggies from the fridge (even the wilted ones), plus all the thyme, dill, and parsley I have on hand to the pot covered with water. I also like to add 2 teaspoons of salt (more as needed) and a few pinches of whole black peppercorn berries if you have them, or just pepper.
  • Cover with water and boil for hours, at least 4 but more is great. Skim off the foam as it simmers and add water if it cooks down too far and you are letting it go for longer. Do not stress; it’s not fussy.
  • Cool, remove and toss all solids, strain through a fine-mesh strainer into clean jars. When you freeze your stock in a glass container, leave about 1 inch of space. The liquid will expand when it becomes a solid and especially in a jar with shoulders, it can break the glass.
  • Notes on broth vs. stock vs. bone broth – so many things to say but not all in this post.
    • Dr. Brad says to toss empty eggs shells into your broth because the inner and outer shell and lining of the eggshell have collagen and nutrients to support joints and bone health.
    • Stock is usually more bone based and broth more meat based.
    • For me, I do all of the above and call them broth or stock, as well as use them interchangeably depending on what I have in the house. No fuss about what is what for me.

Holidays

Today is an Ina day. Since I’m entertaining for Thanksgiving this year, I’m going for the very best of stock, and I’m throwing in 2 whole chickens in addition to some meaty bones I have saved for the most flavor and will let it simmer for 4-8 hours. I’ll use it to make gravy ahead of time (pro-tip here!), moisten potatoes and stuffing, and baste the turkey or save the rest for soup next week. 

Speaking of Thanksgiving, when it comes to turkey I’m sticking with our favorite Jaime Oliver turkey and a few other family favorites, plus a few new. Check my Instagram this weekend for my final menu list and links for 2017. 

~Heather

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