How to Make Chicken Broth

by Karen on Wednesday, November 17, 2010

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This week’s dish, sopa de quinua (quinoa soup) couldn’t be easier.  That is, if you’re not making broth from scratch.  I’m all about taking short cuts when you can (my pantry is full of “Better Than Bouillon” and boxed stocks) but nothing quite replaces homemade chicken broth/stock.   Here are a few tips and a recipe to make the perfect chicken broth, clear and flavorful.

1) Use organic, free-range chickens (and if you can get chicken backs/necks even better!).  Good for your taste buds, your health, other chickens and the environment– need I say more?

2) Rinse your chicken well in cold water to get rid of any residual blood.

3) Start the cooking with cold water.  This will allow for optimum flavor extraction.

4) Never let the water boil, it will turn your broth cloudy.  That being said, if you could care less about the transparency of your broth, boil away.  It doesn’t change the flavor.

5) Don’t use the nasty bits (liver, heart, etc).  Love ’em, but not here– they’ll turn your broth cloudy and bitter.

6) Have a lot of ice cubes handy.  Using ice cubes during the cooking process is a great way to skim fat quickly.

Makes roughly 4 quarts of chicken broth

– 5-6 pounds of chicken butchered apart into pieces.  (Do this yourself or have a butcher do it.  Don’t buy them pre-butchered because you want those leftover parts that are often tossed)
– 2 carrots, sliced in half and then down the middle
– 1 leek, sliced in half and down the middle (be sure to rinse out the leek since dirty gets trapped between the layers)
– 1 large yellow onion, peeled and quartered (cut through the root so all the layers stay together)
– 2 stalks of celery, cut in half
– 1 tbsp of whole black peppercorns, in a spice holder or tied in cheese cloth (otherwise, toss them in, and you can fish them out later)
– 2 bay leaves

After rinsing your chicken in cold water, place the pieces in a very large stockpot and cover with about 4 quarts of cold water or until the water covers all the chicken.  Bring the water to a simmer, being mindful not to bring it to a boil.  Let the soup gently simmer for 1 hour.  During that hour, skim the foam with a spoon or a small sieve.

Dump about 2 quarts of ice cubes into your broth.  The fat should start turning a deeper yellow and become thick enough to easily scoop out.

Add your vegetables and peppercorns and continue to simmer the broth on a low heat for another hour.

You can continue to cook the broth as long as you want, the longer it cooks the more flavorful your broth will be.  When your broth is to your liking, remove vegetables, peppercorns, bay leaves and chicken and strain through a fine-mesh sieve lined with a Viva paper towel (of course any paper towel will do, but I sure do like their paper towels!).  You can use a cheese cloth instead.  This broth will keep in the refrigerator for about 3 days and in the freezer for up to 3 months.  You can store them in large freezer zip lock bags or plastic containers.  You can also freeze little servings of it in ice cube trays for adding to sauces.

I’m never one to waste food so what I do with the left over chicken is use the breast in a chicken salad.  Just roughly chop it up, mix it with a few heaping spoonfuls of mayonnaise, a spoonful of mustard and some diced onions and celery.


Cristina, from Buenos Aires to Paris November 18, 2010 at 11:59 pm

Woww!! I love everything about your blog!!! From the layout, the stories AND the recipes, of course !!! Good job !!!

Karen November 19, 2010 at 11:37 am

Thanks Cristina 🙂 Ditto ditto to your blog as well, your photos are scrumptious!

Tanvi November 20, 2010 at 9:40 pm

Very informative post.I never like buying chicken stock but always end up doing so coz the one I make at home is not very flavorful! Thanks so much

Stephanie M at Together In Food November 22, 2010 at 9:44 am

I usually make stock with carcasses vs the entire chicken, and I do use the liver, heart etc (does make a darker, cloudier broth and somehow, I like the richer flavor!). I also usually add a sprig or two of thyme and/or parsley.

Question: How do you use ice cubes to skim fat? Skimming is my least favorite part so any tips are welcome!

Karen November 22, 2010 at 9:34 pm

When your stock is simmering (make sure its not at a boil otherwise the cubes will melt too quickly) dump a ton of ice cubes into the top, and they’ll slowly melt but at the same time all the fat will turn very yellow and become really thick and scoop-able. Then just take a spoon and skim the top and it does a really good job at getting majority of the fat out! Good luck!

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