Bone Broth aka Stock… So good for you!

Quite a bit has been said lately about bone broth ( I call it stock) and it’s health benefits from keeping the immune system healthy to remineralizing teeth!!

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Crock-Pot Stock

I make stock at least once a week.  Usually from chicken, but sometime from beef.  Stock is an amazing way to use up veggies and bones from other meals like roasted chicken or beef short ribs.   If I am pressed for time (who isn’t), I usually throw the ingredients in a crock pot on low before bedtime and strain it in the morning.  The recipe below is for a stove top simmer, but if you are pressed for time or want a great meal when you get home from work, just throw it into a crock pot in the AM and set it to high.  When you get home, strain it and add some veggies, beans, rice, tomato paste…so many options!

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Slow Simmering Stock

Ingredients:

Please us organic ingredients if at all possible.  Sometime I use whatever I have on hand to make a stock. Leeks, red onions…whatever herbs I have around as well.  The Recipe below is a standard recipe to follow.

  • A 4 pound  chicken
  • 1 large onion, quartered
  • 4 carrots, peeled and cut in 1/2
  • 4 ribs celery and tops, cut in 1/2
  • 10 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 10 sprigs fresh parsley with stems
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 8 to 10 peppercorns
  • 8 whole cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 gallons cold water

Directions

Place chicken, vegetables, and herbs and spices in 12-quart stockpot. Cook on high heat until you begin to see bubbles break through the surface of the liquid. Turn heat down to medium low so that stock maintains low, gentle simmer.  Add hot water as needed to keep bones and vegetables submerged. After about 2 hours, remove the chicken, pick off all of the meat and return the bones to the stock for additional simmering.  Allow the meat to cool and use in the finished soup, shred and season for chicken burritos, chop chilled chicken and mix with mayo, lemon juice and thyme for chicken salad….so many options!!
Back to the stock…Simmer uncovered for 6 to 8 hours.
Strain stock through a fine mesh strainer into another large stockpot or heatproof container discarding the solids (or eating them as a warm snack..yum!!). You can finish the stock by making into any stock based soup of your choice or cool immediately in  a sink full of ice water to below 40 degrees. Place in refrigerator overnight. Remove solidified fat from surface of liquid (you can keep the fat to sauté in or freeze it for use in roux) and store in container with lid in refrigerator for 2 to 3 days or in freezer for up to 3 months. Use as a base for soups and sauces.

What to do with a whole chicken?!?

As I stood in the grocery aisle not that long ago I overheard two women talking about what a waste it was to buy a whole chicken and it dawned on me that most people don’t realize the benefits AND cost saving that goes into using a whole chicken.  I’ve kind of made that my mission when the topic of chicken comes up and what I hear most is “I don’t have time for that”… but you do because it will save  you time in the long run.

We, as a family of four can get about 4+ meals out of one whole chicken!  That’s pretty good for a $10 investment.  I always look for the natural chicken on sale and freeze them or wait for a sale at Whole Foods.  When we are in a hurry, we even buy the natural rotisserie chicken at the grocery store for quick meals.   I do find that these chickens are a whole lot smaller than ones that you roast yourself.  When you do go this route, DO NOT THROW THE BONES AWAY!!  I’ll explain that part later.

One day we will raise chickens for meat, we just aren’t quite there yet….maybe next year. 😉

The best way to get the most out of your chicken is to first roast it.  If you work outside of the home, I would suggest doing this on a Saturday afternoon because it takes about 15 minutes of prep and 1.5 hours of cooking.  Heck, while you’re at it, roast two and you’ll have meals all week long!

Meal 1…

Roast Chicken:

1 Natural whole chicken

Olive oil

Fresh Thyme

Fresh Lemon

Salt

Pepper

Method of Prep: Pre-heat oven on to 425 degrees.  Place your chicken in a roasting pan (preferably on a roasting rack), remove giblets from inside.  Save the neck for stock.  Rub your chicken with olive oil, salt, pepper, thyme leave and lemon juice.  Place used lemon and thyme sprigs/branches inside chicken.

Oven sear at 425 for 15-20 minutes then reduce heat to 375 and cook until golden brown.  Should be about 1.5 hours.  Temp breast at 180 and thigh (near the bone) at 190.

Let it cool for a few minutes.  Remove the breasts and serve with your favorite sides, rice, potatoes, vegetables, or over salad. Yum!

 Meal one done!

Meal two…

Pick the remainder of the chicken from the bones after your roast chicken dinner and place in a plastic bag for another meal.  Perhaps some:

Chicken Quesadillas/Burrito/Rice bowl

 One organic diced onion

Leftover Chicken

3 cloves organic diced garlic

Organic Black beans

Frozen organic corn

Leftover cooked organic rice

Saute Onion and  Garlic in a a little olive oil.  Add leftover chicken, rice, corn and beans when onions are translucent.  Add some mexican spices, cumin, coriander, chili power, whatever you’ve got.  Heat it all up together.

Place in a  bowl or tortilla and top with cheese, sour cream and salsa. Eat!

or

 Chicken Fried Rice

Leftover organic cooked rice

Leftover chicken

Diced onion

3 organic eggs

Frozen organic peas, pea pods, carrots, broccoli, mushrooms whatever you’ve got on hand

Soy sauce

Sesame oil

Olive oil

Method of prep: in a large sauté pan or wok, heat up 2 Tbl olive oil and 1t sesame oil.  Sauté onion until translucent.  Add eggs and scramble in the pan until just cooked.  Remove eggs and onions.  Add a bit more oil, sauté any frozen vegetables and add chicken heat until warm then add rice. Heat the rice and add soy sauce to taste.  Finally add scrambled eggs in the end.

Mix it all up and you have another dinner!  Takes maybe 20 minutes to make and is such a comfort type food. 🙂

  If you do cook 2 chickens, you will have enough of the dark meat to throw in a slow cooker with some salsa or bbq sauce  to make some great pulled chicken for later in the week!  So many choices!

Meal three…maybe even four…

How to make Chicken Stock recipe is here in a prior blog post

I would suggest starting this on a Sunday morning on the stove or in a large slow cooker.  Your home will smell amazing!  There are so many vitamins and amino acids that come from making your own stock that the grocery store options don’t have plus, you are using an item that you have already paid for!  Whenever I have bones left over, I save them, freeze them and pull them out when I want to make soup.  I also make LARGE batches and freeze or can the extra stock so when we need a meal in a hurry, all we have to do is add veggies, pasta, rice, beans whatever is in the pantry or leftover in the fridge not to mention the flavor and extras that you get when cooking a batch of rice using your own stock, it’s amazing!  When you refrigerate your stock, you will have a nice float of chicken fat on top…save it for a bonus meal 5!

You can add fresh chopped or frozen veggies and pasta for a quick dinner.  You can even save some chicken to add back into the soup.

Bonus Meal 5…..

Once we’ve eaten chicken rice, noodle, veg soup for a few days we get a little sick of it, I turn it into a chicken ala king or chicken pot pie. Bring your soup to a simmer while you make a roux.

Take the chicken fat and flour, equal parts and make a roux(thickening agent) with it.

Step 1

Heat 6 tbsp. of chicken fat over medium heat until it is completely melted.

Step 2

Whisk in 6 tbsp. of all-purpose flour. You should have a slightly grainy mixture.

Step 3

Simmer the roux, whisking constantly, for six to eight minutes for a blond roux. The roux will expand and thicken as you simmer it, but it will gradually decrease in thickness the longer you cook it. If the roux begins to burn or turn brown too quickly, reduce the heat.  Remove half of your finished roux (incase you have too much, you can always add more if you need it)

Step 4

Take a little bit of your soup stock and whisk into the pan with the roux to temper the two together. Then slowly whisk in the roux and stock mixture into the rest of your soup.  Bring to a boil. It should be the consistency of a thick gravy, if it isn’t, add a bit more roux and boil again.  Chill and serve over rice, in crocks with pie shell top or in a pie shell for a traditional pot pie.  I freeze these pot pies and pop them into the oven when I don’t want to cook. 🙂

And, THAT is how you use a whole chicken, grocery store ladies! 😉

Let the pressure begin…..

After our fun with canning session last fall during a hurricane (cause what else are you going to do with all of the stuff that would otherwise splatter all over your house?!?), we decided to invest in an aluminum pressure canner. I say invest because they are not cheap.

At first we thought that we could use the monster as a canner AND cooker, which we can, except we are not too keen on the idea of adding aluminum, forcibly to our food so we opted to also add a stainless steel pressure cooker to the pots and pans repertoire.  Needles to say that they couldn’t have come at a better time as a serious case of the sniffle, sneezes and coughs has entered our home.  First on the list of things to make….chicken soup!  The hubs ran out to get the fix-ins for some amazing organic chicken stock and of course beef stock, hey, might as well, right. 😉

So the stock making began and with the help of the pressure cooker took…wait for it, 30 minutes!!!  Holy cow!  I couldn’t believe it!  Normally I would start a stock in the morning and it would be ready for dinner. It needs to cook that long to extract all of the animo acids and other goodness necessary to be a proven cold fighter.  It is our go-to for colds and general sickness. 🙂  This stock was the color of a cooked-all-day stock in 30 minutes!  Why doesn’t every mom have one of these??  Perhaps it is because all I could picture when the idea was proposed was a cartoon skit where the roof is blown off of the house by a wayward pressure cooker.  That however, was not the case, the roof is intact and so are all of our limbs. 🙂 Yay!
Then, came time to play with the pressure canner…that thing is scary looking and HUGE!  I must admit that it is very intimidating like something out of a Dr. Jekyll movie.  Long story short, it took about 2 hours total to can 9 quarts of stock.  3 Chicken and 6 beef stock and we had a huge pot of minestrone for dinner.
After canning the stocks became even darker!  That is chicken stock!  It is a dark caramel color.  I can’t even get stock that color from reducing all day.  I am amazed and can’t wait to dig into that stock.  We promised ourselves that we’d save those for sick days so no one has to go out or stand over the stove.  So that’s it…a day in the life of a little pressure.
Here is a good recipe for some great stock.  This is NOT a pressure cooker recipe although it probably could be.

Ingredients

  • 4 pounds chicken carcasses, including necks and backs
  • 1 large onion, quartered
  • 4 carrots, peeled and cut in 1/2
  • 4 ribs celery, cut in 1/2
  • 10 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 10 sprigs fresh parsley with stems
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 8 to 10 peppercorns
  • 2 whole cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 gallons cold water

Directions

Place chicken, vegetables, and herbs and spices in 12-quart stockpot. Cook on high heat until you begin to see bubbles break through the surface of the liquid. Turn heat down to medium low so that stock maintains low, gentle simmer.  Add hot water as needed to keep bones and vegetables submerged. Simmer uncovered for 6 to 8 hours.
Strain stock through a fine mesh strainer into another large stockpot or heatproof container discarding the solids. Cool immediately in large cooler of ice or a sink full of ice water to below 40 degrees. Place in refrigerator overnight. Remove solidified fat from surface of liquid and store in container with lid in refrigerator for 2 to 3 days or in freezer for up to 3 months. Prior to use, bring to boil for 2 minutes. Use as a base for soups and sauces.
I am planning on a “how to use a whole chicken” blog soon so save those bones!  Since I use EVERYTHING….some call it frugal or even cheap….I call it resourceful and NOT wasteful, I even use the carrots and celery that have been used in the stock.  Most of the good stuff has been transferred to the stock, but there is still some left so take those out, hold them aside.  My kids will just walk by the counter and munch as I strain.  The ones they don’t eat, make for a quick side dish for them or throw them back in with some of your stock and blend it all up with a stick blender, add a little tomato product and some cumin and chili power.  Heat and serve with cheese and tortilla chips for a yummy tortilla soup. 🙂
Off to bathe the babes now…