Making homemade chicken broth is one of my favorite ways to save money and pack in the nourishment too. Learn to preserve it in a Pressure Canner for super convenience! (Read more about how I learned to can broth here.)
Last weekend I had a big party with some chickens in my kitchen. Three extra large chickens to be exact, purchased from a farm nearby that allows their chickens to do the chicken dance all over their yard while feasting on bugs all day long. (If you happen to be a local reader, I get my chickens from Northstar Neighbors…they deliver right to my door – love them!)
I decided that since I was going to cook one chicken, I might as well cook three. One mess, one day…all done. You can, of course make this broth using only one chicken…but the pictures below are going to be of the big chicken party.
First, thaw your chicken. Or not. I got my chickens out of the freezer and put them in the fridge overnight, but they were still pretty frozen the next morning when I was ready to start my broth. No matter. Frozen chickens thaw quickly in boiling water (imagine that).
Check it out, it’s a tower of chickens.
How to Make Chicken Broth
Put your chicken into a large pot. I used my huge stock pot since I was going to be boiling three large birds. Fill the pot three quarters full of water.
Add veggies to the pot…as many as you want and any variety you want. My favorites are: carrots, onions, leaks and celery. I pretty much throw in whichever veggies I have at the time. There is no rhyme or reason to my chicken broth making madness…you really can’t hurt your broth by putting in too many veggies. You can overflow your pot, but I’ll just assume you’ll use common sense on that one.
Shake a nice amount of sea salt into the pot.
Bring your pot of chicken, veggies, water and salt to a boil. Turn the burner down and simmer (with the lid on) for several hours. By several…I mean check it every so often in between clipping your child’s fingernails, matching up a basket of socks and chasing your naked toddler down the street to bring him back into the house for his bath. When the chicken starts to spread apart and the meat is falling off the bone…ding! He’s done.
Carefully lift the chicken(s) out of the pot and onto another dish. Allow it to cool for a little while (but not too long because de-boning a cold chicken is a lot harder than de-boning a warm one). Take all the meat off the bone once the chicken is cool enough for you to touch it without screaming.
This is the part I usually like to hand over to Matt. I’m not a big fan of de-boning a chicken, even though it isn’t hard. Matt doesn’t mind doing it because he usually sneaks bites of cooked chicken while he works. And I let him because he’s de-boning the chicken so I don’t have to.
Throw all the bones and skin back into the pot of broth, and fill the pot with water and veggies again. Now you can make a second round of broth – getting the most out of your chicken and bones!
Cover the pot and simmer for a couple more hours to really “suck the good stuff out of the bones and into the broth.”
In the meantime, you can put all your cooked chicken into containers for future meals. I happened to get TEN meals worth of meat from my three extra large chickens because I like to make my chickens stretch as much as I can. These jars went into the freezer (after they cooled completely). Yes, I put lids on them first.
After the bones and skin have cooked for a couple of hours, strain the carcass out of the broth with a colander. Lookie, a big colander of chicken carcass. I don’t really like the word carcass. And yet, I keep saying carcass. Someone stop me. (What is the plural form of carcass? Carcasses? Carci? Seriously, someone stop me.)
Mmm, look at that good, rich broth. I always run it through my blender (if I feel like it that day) to smooth out all the veggies. They’re usually pretty mushy by then anyway, and blending them into the broth adds even more nourishment and good flavor.
Now, I actually have a hard time letting go of my chicken bones and skin (otherwise known as the carcass), so if I have an ounce of energy left at the end of my full day of chicken cooking and de-boning and broth making, I will then put the contents of my colander into my crock pot, fill it with water and leave it on low all night to make yet another round of broth. It isn’t as rich, but it still makes a good broth.
Chicken broth freezes very well, you’ll just want to make sure it has completely cooled before you put it into the freezer. I freeze mine in jars and in freezer bags. If you freeze it in jars, be sure to leave several inches open at the top to allow for the broth to expand. Otherwise your jar will bust and it will be sad.
And there you have it. If this isn’t a great way to stretch chickens, I don’t know what is. From three big chickens I got four or more meals of chicken broth and ten meals of cooked chicken. LOVE. IT.