Although I’ve primarily bought locally grown fruits and vegetables for the last few years, until recently I wasn’t buying local meat on a regular basis. That changed this winter when a local farm offering a meat CSA began distributing in my town.
I’m about 4 months into the meat CSA and it’s been a great experience. I eat a much wider variety of meat products and the food simply tastes better. It also feels good to know my food dollars are supporting a local farm.
Speaking of dollars, it’s a bit pricey to buy locally and sustainably raised meat so I’ve changed some of my habits to get every bit of value out of the CSA. To make the most of the two broiler chickens I get every month I’ve started making broth from the bones and leftover chicken bits.
Making broth is simple and with a slow cooker it requires very little effort. Just pile the chicken bones into the slow cooker, add vegetables and seasoning, and cover everything with water. Cook the mixture on low overnight and strain it in the morning. Then refrigerate the broth for about eight hours to allow the animal fat to rise to the top. Skim off the fat before cooking with or freezing the broth.
There are several different ways you can make the broth. You can use cooked bones, raw bones or a mix. Typically, I used all cooked bones. If your chicken comes with the organs, you can also add those to the broth. (Mine doesn’t so I’ve never done this.)
Here are a few tips for making your broth:
- Flavor the chicken broth with any vegetables or herbs you like, keeping in mind what you’ll be using the broth for. I tend to freeze all of the broth so I go light on the herbs and then season it when I’m using it to cook.
- The vegetables and herbs that tend to go well with stock are the ones you typically find in soup: celery, carrots, onion, pepper, rosemary, thyme, bay leaves, and garlic, for example.
- Instead of cutting up fresh vegetables for the soup, consider saving and freezing vegetable “leftovers” to use. Save the ends of carrots, celery and onions, as well as the centers of tomatoes, and other vegetable leftovers in a bag in the freezer. You can even save the onion skins to give the broth a nice caramel color. When it’s time to make the stock, add a few handfuls of vegetables to the crock-pot. Doing this saves time and money because you’re not buying or cutting up new vegetables.
- The amount of water you use will play a role in the stock’s consistency. If the final product is too thick (more like stock), you can add water. If you’re freezing the broth, you may like to save space by freezing it in the thicker form and then adding water when you’re ready to use it.
Homemade Chicken Broth
By February 13, 2014
Although I've primarily bought locally grown fruits and vegetables for the last few years, until recently I wasn't buying local meat …
- Place the chicken carcass in a crock-pot.
- Add any vegetables or herbs you'd like. I add about a cup of vegetables per pound of chicken. So if the chicken was pounds, add 3 cups of vegetables.
- Cover everything with cold water and cook in a slow cooker on low overnight.
- Using a slotted spoon, remove the larger pieces of bones and vegetables. Then strain the broth through a sieve or cheese cloth to remove smaller pieces.
- Refrigerate the broth for about 8 hours to allow the fat to rise to the surface. Then skim the fat and either use the broth within about 3 days or freeze it.
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