Monday, January 26, 2009

Chicken Broth

Following Anna's suggestion, I cooked my first whole chicken today and the broth is simmering in the crock post. It was a huge chicken, cost $12. But I got 8 cups of boiled chicken out of it that I can freeze for later and 11 cups of broth. I am posting Anna's instructions for making chicken broth as its own blog for easier referencing. I hope you don't mind, Anna--and thanks for the info!

Have you considered making chicken broth to avoid the MSG issues? Do you have a Crock Pot slow cooker? You can also make it in a big pot/Dutch oven on the range, but then you'll have to stay home to babysit (peek at it now and then). CP slow cookers are easier because you put the stuff in, set the temp and come back later and it's done.I used to make broth with leftover chicken bones/carcasses, but a friend showed me her way, with a fresh whole chicken, and I like it better because a) it's easy, b) it makes a big container of cooked and deboned chicken meat for easy snacks, soups, and quick meals at the same time.

Seriously, I unwrap a whole chicken and put it in the pot. Add water until it is about 2" from the top. Add chopped onions, carrots, and celery (or keep a bag in the freezer for onion ends, scallion, carrot, and leek, trimmings, and limp celery and dump them right in when you make broth) and a bay leaf if you can, but they aren't essential if you are pressed for time or don't have any. [note-I added other herbs as well such as thyme and marjoram. I can't stand a bland broth. Also, somewhere I read "crap in, crap out", meaning I wouldn't recommend using onion skins and carrot ends--use stuff that tastes good.]

Here's the important part: pour in a "glug" of vinegar (a couple tablespoons) such as apple cider vinegar, even lemon juice. The slight acidity of the water will "leach" minerals out of the chicken bones and into the broth, for greater flavor and nutrition. You won't taste the acidity, but it makes great broth.

Cover and set the temp. Naturally, Low will take a lot longer and High will cook faster. A few hours at the minimum, though, but not all day (you don't want to cook all the flavor out of the chicken meat). I tend to set on High at first until the water is hot, then reset it to Low later. When the chicken is cooked well, carefully remove it to a big bowl or platter to cool off a bit (watch out for splatters and splashes and falling legs if it's really well cooked and falling apart - use tongs if necessary). When the meat is cool enough to handle, quickly debone with big hunks of meat to serve right away or store in a container in the fridge. Ladle a bit of broth over the meat to keep it moist.

Return skin, bones, and cartilage to the pot, perhaps add a bit more water and cook a *lot* longer. Strain into containers and store in the fridge for a week or in the freezer (leave space for expansion). In the winter I do this weekly, for the meat and the broth. Even though the cooking takes several hours, the hands-on time is very minimal.And homemade broth is richer with gelatin than commercial broth, so it's great for the GI tract (my friend Dianne likens commercial broth to "water used to rinse chicken). Gelatin is very soothing, nourishing, and promotes GI healing. And no MSG! Yay!

This one might freak you out ;-):

P.S. For ideas on how to use the boiled chicken check out this thread from


  1. Hey, Michelle, I don't mind at all. I love sharing labor-saving tips for real food. I love to cook, but I'll be the first to say, I'm a lazy cook. And I'm not always as frugal as I could be. I don't use onions skins and carrot ends, either, but these days everyone is being so thrifty. I think it was the Frugal Gourmet PBS show years ago where I first saw odds & ends like that going into broth. But I do save washed green leek tops in the freezer, I hate to pay for those then toss them. Anything veggie I can't use goes into our compost pile or the worm bin for the garden.