While I grew up in a household with some pretty incredible home cooking (French roots #FTW), I was always a super picky eater, with a taste for processed… well, processed crap – what I now call “plastic food”. But once I set out on my own I started to get interested with cooking, and began to learn simple recipes, slowly leaning away from my pre-packaged tendencies. And then, after watching things like Jamie Oliver’s TED talk on sugar and processed foods, and Food, Inc., I decided to start paying closer attention to the food I put in my body, and starting to cook more from scratch. I’ve become more and more convinced that real food doesn’t have ingredients; it is ingredients.
So I’ve been making things like chicken broth for years from scratch. And, for years, I’ve been trying to convince myself that it’s delicious. I’d just keep a bag of veggie scraps, onion peels, and chicken carcasses in the freezer until I had a pot-full, cover with water, and cook for about 12 hours. For the record, this does serve a purpose; it gives you a great nutritious base to work with, while re-using food items that would otherwise go to waste. I’d use this to create hearty soups, sauces, and even just braise veggies with. BUT it does not stand alone. It takes a lot of work to override the uncontrolled flavors that end up in this mix.
So while perusing food blogs one day, I came across Smitten Kitchen’s recipe for Perfect Uncluttered chicken Stock, and I was intrigued. “Cluttered” is exactly how my homemade chicken broth recipe has always turned out. So I took a line from her recipe here and tried using only chicken wings instead of the whole carcass. I also took some inspiration from the recipe I read on my favorite yoga blog Yoga By Candace, and decided to make a true bone broth – skipping all the veggies I normally include – hoping to create more of a blank canvas. I added only a little salt, bay leaves, and a dash of apple cider vinegar to help leech all the nutrients and minerals from the chicken bones. I threw it all in the crock pot on low for about 20-24 hours, and voila! The perfect chicken broth – simple enough, with a touch of sweetness, so that it’s a blank canvas to work from, or you can just pour yourself a mug and cozy up on the couch.
I have to tell you, when I made my first batch it was intended to become a base for chicken pot pie, but the broth was so delicious on its own, I couldn’t bring myself to add anything to it. I ended up drinking a hot mug of it in every morning until it was gone. It really is glorious!
What you need:
Crock Pot or stock pot
3lbs chicken wings
2 bay leaves,
About 1/2tsp salt (not too much – as it reduces down, the salt levels will become more concentrated.)
Dash of apple cider vinegar
Water to cover, about 6 cups
Fill your crock pot (or a stock pot) with all ingredients and cover with water. Cook on low for 20-24 hours, strain and let cool before refrigerating or freezing. Skim the fat off the top when cool. I like to store mine in little 8oz jars so that I can just heat one up for a hot warming mug of broth, or I have a place to start for recipe: 8oz = 1 Cup. You can also pour some into ice cube trays, for those times when you only need a small amount.
- Remember, by slowly cooking your chicken bones you are extracting all the nutrients and minerals out of the bones, so try to use organic chicken if possible to avoid pulling any unwanted substances out of the bones.
- Your broth should look like Jell-o when cold because it is full of gelatin, but rest assured, as soon as it’s warmed back up, you’ll have a nice silky liquid.
- Re-freeze your chicken bones to use them in your next batch of broth. They should be good for at least 2 batches.