It’s no secret–the great outdoors get a lot less welcoming in the wintertime. When the seasons cold chases you indoors however, that doesn’t mean you must give up on fun projects and activities until spring! To the contrary, it’s a great time to work on stuff indoors, and the kitchen is always a cozy place to retreat to. This winter, give making your own bone broth a try–it’s a great way to better use every bit of your poultry.
Bone broth can be a veritable storehouse of nutrients, but the ones you buy in the store tend to just be cheap imitations. This is because most are not made with the real, nutritious parts of chickens. Before you scoff and mock the producers, keep in mind that this is because those parts include the feet, the gizzard, and even the heads if you’re really hardcore–in other words, parts most people dont want to see anywhere near their food. When making your own, it’s advisable you use as many of these as you can, as they are very high in collagen, but it’s okay to discard any that make you uncomfortable. After all, nutrient-dense bone broth isn’t much good if it turns your stomach too much to eat it.
The collagen comes specifically from things like the cartilage, tendons and ligaments that the aforementioned parts are made up of. You can see this in the broth’s consistency. When true bone broth cools, it will gel like slightly watery Jell-o. To start, take the bones from a roasted chicken, and any extraneous parts such as feet, head, gizzards, legs and wings you would like to use. Place all these in a standard, six-quart stock pot, adding any spices or seasonings you’d like to use to influence flavor (lemon slices, rosemary, basil and thyme are all good options). Next fill the pot with water, until all the parts are fully submerged to at least an inch, along with a dash of salt. From here, take a tablespoon and a half of apple-cider vinegar and mix it in. The acidic content will help dissolve the collagen, and turn it into gelatin. Bring the whole mixture to a boll, and reduce to a simmer. Cover, and let it stew for 12 hours, or until it has reduced by ⅓ or ½ (½ if you’d prefer weaker tasting broth, ⅓ for stronger). Strain out all the chunks, bones and any other non-liquid materials. From here, you can either freeze and store the broth, or enjoy it right away. If you’re freezing in Mason jars, make sure you leave a couple inches free at the top for expansion.
Speaking of “enjoy right away,” you may be wondering what on earth you actually do with bone broth? If so, don’t worry. I had to ask my mother the first time I made it. Never occurred to me to ponder what it was good for before I tried whipping some up. The first, and simplest use is in soup. Unsurprisingly, chicken-bone broth makes a great bowl of chicken soup, once you add some noodles, vegetables and shredded chicken. You can also use it in any recipe that calls for chicken broth, such as gravies and sauces. Finally, some people like to add a little pepper or garlic and drink it straight, for health benefits. I myself have never been brave enough to try this, but I know some folks swear by it.
Good luck in the kitchen this winter, and when the wind blows cold, heat up a nice, warming, bone-broth soup. Your taste buds, and your health, will thank you for it.
A humble homesteader based in an undisclosed location, Lars Drecker splits his time between tending his little slice of self-sustaining heaven, and bothering his neighbors to do his work for him. This is mainly the fault of a debilitating predilection for fishing, hunting, camping and all other things outdoors. When not engaged in any of the above activities, you can normally find him broken down on the side of the road, in some piece of junk he just “fixed-up.”