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Up until a few years ago, I had myself convinced that making homemade chicken broth was a laborious and time-consuming task fit only for professional chefs or diehard home cooks. Simmering and simmering and simmering some more, then straining and skimming and straining some more…the mere idea of homemade broth tired me out.
But several years ago, when I was just getting started on my journey back to wellness after cutting the gluten from my life, a holistic nutritionist suggested that I begin drinking or at least cooking with homemade chicken broth. It’s high mineral content and soothing warmth would do my poor, ripped up intestinal tract a world of good.
So I tried my hand at making it and shocked myself to find that it really required very little effort at all. In fact, the simple act of simmering the broth for a few hours every weekend or so presented me with a lovely pocket of time to catch up on reading, projects around the house, and just rest in general. My mom also took to making broth and, while she’s not strictly gluten-free like me, she found it to be the perfect tummy-soothing drink to sip on cold mornings.
During the cooler seasons, I now make chicken broth regularly to keep stocked in my freezer and fridge. Not that I don’t love some good organic stock-in-a-box for days when time is short. But really, after you’ve used homemade broth in your soups and stews and to cook your rice and quinoa, there’s just no comparison between the two.
What Makes a Good Broth
I’m sure there are a million different perspectives on what’s essential to a good chicken broth. Here are my tips:
- Organic Chicken: first things first, a humanely-raised, free-range organic chicken is an enormous step in the right direction. Not only is the flavor better, but the fat content is far less than with a regular bird and the broth is much more pure nutritionally speaking.
- Aromatics: I always throw herbs, onions, and garlic into my broth. Their flavors don’t stand out once the broth is used in cooking, but they add a richness that makes other flavors pop. My favorite herbs to use are parsley, rosemary, and thyme, but bay leaves or oregano would be nice as well.
- Kombu Seaweed: although this is optional and not essential to a stellar broth, adding a strip of kombu to the pot releases additional trace minerals into the liquid and translates into better nutrition all around.
- Time: the longer you have to let the broth simmer, the richer and more nutritious it will become. I say 2 1/2 hours is the minimum, but 3 or 3 1/2 is superior. In the past I’ve forgotten about my broths before and let them go for 4 hours or more. They get better with time.
I like to store my broth in glass jars in the refrigerator and freezer. This way they thaw more quickly than one giant container and can be used in recipes where just a cup or two of broth is needed.
How to Make Chicken Broth
Roasting the Chicken
- 1 (3 ½ – 4 pound) organic chicken
- Handful fresh herbs such as thyme, rosemary, or oregano
- 1 lemon cut into wedges
- 3-4 garlic cloves, crushed
- 2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1-2 teaspoons poultry seasoning (I like this one)
- Sea salt
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Remove and discard chicken insides (if present). Rinse chicken under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels. Set chicken breast side up in a large roasting pan or Dutch oven.
- Stuff the cavity of the chicken with herbs, lemon wedges, and garlic cloves. Rub the bird all over with olive oil, poultry seasoning, and a generous sprinkling of salt.
- Cover the chicken with lid (or tent with aluminum foil) and roast for 35 minutes.
- Remove lid and continue roasting another 35-45 minutes until juices run clear when chicken is pierced with a knife in the thigh area. The legs should twist off easily when pulled. If the chicken appears to be browning too quickly, cover with lid for the last 10-15 minutes of cook time.
- Allow chicken to rest at room temperature until cool enough to handle, about 30 minutes. Using your fingers, pull all of the skin and meat off of the chicken bones. Reserve meat for eating. Once chicken bones are picked as clean as possible, they can be frozen for up to a month before using them to make broth.
Making the Broth
- Bones and carcass from one organic chicken
- Large handful fresh parsley
- A few sprigs of fresh thyme or rosemary
- 1 onion, halved
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 strip (about 2×4 inches) kombu seaweed, optional
- Place all ingredients in a large pot with about 10-12 cups of filtered water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 2 ½ – 3 ½ hours (the longer the better).
- Pour broth through a fine mesh strainer set over a large bowl. Cool broth to room temperature, then refrigerate for 6-8 hours or overnight.
- Using a large spoon, skim off and discard the skin of fat that will have formed on the surface of the broth.
- Divide broth among jars. Refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 2 months.
In other news, I’m happy to announce that I tied for first place in December’s Gluten Free Photo Contest at Simply…Gluten-Free! (I also won third place.) I tied with Laurie of Cakes ‘n’ Bakes for her gluten-free oreos, which look amazing.
If you have a great photo of gluten-free food, be sure to stop by Simply…Gluten-Free for all the details on how to submit your images. It’s a blast to participate in and certainly keeps me motivated to continue working on my food photography skills.