A few weeks ago, when a nasty cold bug threatened to knock all seven us out one at a time, I took action. I headed to my freezer to grab one of my best, tried-and-true home remedies for feeling better faster...a jar of homemade chicken stock.
Now don't go confusing this with what Swanson's been ladling up for decades. No. No. No.
What I'm talking about is homemade-flavorful-mineral rich-goodness that you won't find on the shelves of any grocery store.
A quick aside: America is one of the few countries in the world that does not seem to value the many health properties of bone broth. Grandmother's all over Creation have been serving up chicken soup to their ailing loved ones for years. And yet, homemade chicken soup has fallen out of vogue here in the States and has been replaced with Ramen, Campbell's, or any myriad of canned knock-offs.
While this simple home remedy might seem like an old wive's tale, there is actually substantial research to prove that broth/stock made from actual animal bones...not bullion cubes or chicken breasts, but BONES...has natural healing properties. For more information, be sure to read The Many Benefits of Bone Broth.
As an added bonus, THIS particular stock is as budget friendly as it gets...IT'S MADE FROM SCRAPS that I would just be throwing out anyway.
- the carcass of one chicken (more on that later)
- veggie scraps
- 1 onion (unless you have scraps...which I never do)
- couple of dashes of dried bay leaves
- 2-3 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley or a couple of dashes of dried parsley
- couple of dashes of dried thyme
- salt and pepper to taste
Debone a whole chicken.
(I typically roast an entire chicken with root veggies at least once a month. As a whole chicken is typically much cheaper than a pack of chicken breasts, it's a great way to get bang for your buck in the kitchen. We have one meal of roasted chicken and veggies, one to two meals-worth of shredded chicken to freeze for a meal later in the month, and a whole carcass for making stock. My husband thinks I "collect" carcasses and that I might need some kind of carcass-collecting intervention. As I've been known to ask around for the unclaimed carcasses of friend's chickens, I think he might just be right!)
If you're not a roast-my-own-chicken kind of girl, you can use a store-bought rotisserie chicken.
Toss the bones in a ziplock and store in the freezer. Throughout the coming weeks, begin to add the scraps (tops and bottoms...or other unused portions) from carrots and celery to the bag. Often times, I can't use up a bag of celery before it begins to grow limp. When that happens, I chop up all the remaining limpy stocks and toss them in the chicken-veggie-freezer bag.
Once I have a full bag of both carcass and scraps, it's time to make my stock.
Toss the scraps as well as all the other ingredients into a slow cooker.
Fill the slow cooker with water until it is 3/4 full. (At this point, you could add a teaspoon of vinegar as that has been known to draw out more minerals from the bones, but I have never done that.)
Cook on low for at least 24 hours.
After 24 hours, your stock will be dark brown in color and will have been reduced to about half of its original constitution.
Strain the stock and toss all the scraps. It's what you would have done with them anyway, right?
Store your flavorful, mineral-rich stock in freezer safe containers or can for later use in ANY recipe calling for chicken stock. Not only will your recipe taste better, it will be better for you.
And now, if you'll excuse me, I've got a bowl of soup calling my name.