Today I wanted to share a traditional recipe that has become a staple in our home. Homemade chicken stock, or as it is sometimes called, bone broth. The practice of using the discarded bones from the meats we eat and using them to make a nutrient packed broth is an ancient ritual that our thrifty ancestors did on the reg. It might sound funny, but when I make my whole, organic, pastured chicken in the crockpot, pull off the meat and then use the leftover skin and bones to make a broth, it touches something primal within me and it just feels….right. It feels economical and efficient in the midst of this hurry up, throwaway lifestyle we all live in.
Bone broths are extremely nutritious. The vinegar in the recipe helps to draw out the minerals (particularly calcium, potassium and magnesium) into the broth. The minerals obtained from bone broth are extremely nutritious and in a highly absorbable form, resulting in an electrolyte (mineral) solution far superior to Gatorade or Pedialyte. It also contains gelatin, which has many beneficial effects that most people are generally unaware of. Gelatin aids in digestion and has been used successfully in the treatment of many intestinal disorders, including hyperacidity, colitis and Crohn’s disease. It is not a complete protein in itself, but it allows the body to more fully utilize the complete proteins that are taken in along with it. In folk wisdom, rich chicken broth is a valued remedy for the flu.
It takes many hours, but is so simple to make and has so many uses. I do this about twice a month and the whole family loves it. The chicken meat feeds my family for a few days and the stock is good in the fridge for up to 5 days (use your judgment though. If it smells or tastes weird, toss it) and for up to 3 months in the freezer. We use it to cook with (steam with rice instead of water, sauté veggies, soups), I use a little when reheating food for my son, and sometimes we drink some plain with just a little salt! It also does wonders when someone in the house doesn’t feel well. The recipe is below. Enjoy!
Chicken in the crockpot:
1 4-5 lb organic (pastured if you can find it) whole chicken
I take the whole chicken, rinse it in cold water and then put it in the slow cooker breast side down. You can season it with what ever you are in the mood for…I do salt, pepper, paprika, garlic usually. Put lid on, set it on low for 6-7hrs, depending on the size. (I cooked a 5.25lb one the other day for 6 hours and it was perfect.). Walk away till it beeps at you.
Chicken bone broth:
Bones, skin etc from one whole chicken
1 tsp of vinegar (white or apple cider)
1 onion, quartered
2 carrots, cut into 3 or 4 pieces each
2 celery sticks, cut into 3 or 4 pieces each
1 garlic clove, smashed
6-8 cups of filtered water
-When the chicken is done cooking, I use tongs and a fork to pick off the meat. I put the meat directly into a glass tupperware and I put any bones skin or bits I won’t eat into a big bowl. Once you have picked all your meat off, just toss the bowl of bones etc back into the crockpot, leaving in all the natural juices that cooked off. Then add the vinegar, onion, carrots, celery sticks, and garlic clove into the pot. Pour about 6-8 cups of water over it all leaving at least an inch space at the top. Cook on low for 40 hours. I have to do it in two rounds of 20 hours cause that is the longest setting on mine.
– After the 40 hours, strain the broth into a bowl, then use a ladle to pour it into glass jars to keep in the fridge and use for up to 5 days for cooking, soups etc! Let the broth cool with the lid off before putting it in the fridge. Once cold, you will see the fat rise and harden at the top. I scoop that out before I use it. It will be a dark amber color and taste rich and delicious! I season with salt and pepper as I use it.
Tip: To save in the freezer, pour it into ice-cube trays and freeze. Once frozen place the cubes into a ziploc and pull out as needed! We use them instead of store-bought broths or bouillon cubes, which are typically filled with preservatives and synthetic flavor enhancers.