American cooking, tumbling as fast as it is toward a totally takeout cuisine, retains two potent images that can still revivify our appetite for good, homemade food: baked goods, which stand for the gift of pleasure, and meat-based broths, from which all the kitchen’s healing goodness flows…its aroma filled the house, cosseting all who inhaled it with deep well-being, as if the very air were filled with nurture. The chef may have transmogrified his meat waters into gold; the housewife transmuted them into a far more essential nutrient: love. ~ John Thorne Outlaw Cook
Any good cook preparing food for his/her family puts a lot of love into it, and this method and recipe is no exception! This recipe is made with chicken and I never prepare a chicken or turkey without using the bones afterword for broth. It is so good and good for you! Your family will taste the love, believe me, and their tummies will thank you for it!
You can use the bones from pretty much any meat for broth. Fish stock usually contains the whole carcasses, including heads; beef stock typically calls for a mixture of bone marrow and knuckle bones – and even feet! All these different components contribute to the end flavor and add their own particular nutrients. I made some Chinese Pork Spare Ribs a few months ago that simmered in its own liquid for a long time and in the recipe it said to save the resulting broth, and I am glad I did. It was amazing! Having simmered in the pork with coconut aminos, lots of ginger, garlic, and cinnamon it was so good! It would have made a wonderful base for soup but it didn’t last that long! We simply drank it as is!
This broth is made from chicken, and the one I make the most often; I’ll share my method for some other favorites another time. You can do this one a couple of ways, and I have read several and combined a few to make one that works for us and that we like the end result the most. This method uses a whole chicken, cooking the meat in the delicious broth, resulting in super moist and tasty chicken meat that is great for sandwiches, salads, or snacking.
A few notes about broth or stock. The terms are interchangeable and which is used pretty much depends on who you are talking to, so don’t let it throw you; personally, I was confused about it for a while! The ending broth can be used to make gravy, sauces, soup, or any recipe calling for stock or broth; I don’t remember the last time I spent money on it at the store – we always have some in the freezer – but I also always have a jar in the fridge we drink hot in mugs like tea. Which brings me to my next point.
Homemade bone broth, made from the whole carcass, is very nutritious and extremely healing. It’s not an old wives tale that it’s a cure for a cold (but don’t just have it when you’re sick! Consumed regularly, it can ward off illness in the first place!), and can aid in the healing of all sorts of ailments and even injuries. The minerals in the bones, marrow, and even skin and cartilage add electrolytes, something called hydrophilic colloids (which aid in digestion), gelatin which is great for your digestion, protein, amino acids, and when an acid is introduced in cooking – such as apple cider vinegar – it draws out the minerals in the bones (like calcium, magnesium, and potassium). It truly is a super food! The connective tissue is also so good for healing and even goes so far as to combat damage done to the gut, can ease inflammation, and is a wonderful addition to the healing diet of anyone suffering from digestive issues but is instrumental for someone like me who needs that extra healing boost!
I recently returned from visiting family in Nebraska. It was my first time there since changing my diet and though being grain-free is not always all that difficult, probably the biggest hurdle when someone is preparing food for me are the nightshades. Even a small amount of them makes the eczema flare like crazy and any of the convenience foods I used to rely on while on the go – like lunchmeat – are now off the menu. Before we arrived my mom roasted a chicken for me then boiled the bones and made an amazing broth which she later made soup out of; it was so good I tried to recreate it here. It is very simple and so good neither batch lasted more than a couple of days!
A few notes about gelatin; it is one of the latest super foods I have learned about and wanted to share with you. I’m not talking about the artificially colored, chemical-filled concoction you can make from a box, but real gelatin. You can order it online reasonably priced; I recommend the Great Lakes brand (the red can) and it can be found on Amazon, but its truest form is when it is extracted right from the bones.
Ever notice how cold broth gets all thick and gelled? It’s the gelatin and the goal of every stock-making cook is that perfect broth that gels beautifully. My mom nailed it; the first time I went to warm up some leftover of hers it all popped out of the jar at once and kept its form until the pan heated up! Like chicken jello! (If you follow me on Instagram you might have seen a picture of it.)
If your broth is not gelling much there can be a couple of reasons. Start with cold water; the process of the water slowly heating allows the fibers in the bone to open up and release the gelatin. It could also be it wasn’t simmered long enough, or too much; the key word here is simmer. Don’t let it come to a rolling boil; I go into this more later.
I am very focused on healing my body right now, and I find it absolutely amazing there are tools on this earth we can use, like naturally fermented foods for probiotics, honey with anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties (as long as it’s in its RAW form), and gut-healing, immune system boosting bone broth! Food is medicine!
Need another reason to make your own? Conventional “broth” is loaded with salt, most likely contains gluten, in some cases the meat is the fourth or fifth ingredient, and they can contain things like MSG, artificial colorings, sugars, hydrogenated oils, and a whole host of unidentifiable/unpronounceable things. Even gluten-free varieties and organic versions can be suspect and contain questionable labels like “all-natural” or “natural flavors.” That can mean anything BUT natural! Do your research; there are some good brands out there, but they can be hard to find and expensive…so why not make your own!
I simmer mine twice; once the first time, and then I take the meat off the bones and simmer just the bones one more time. Use cold, filtered water, and let it take its time. The little bit of effort on your part will be well worth it, trust me!
Homemade (Chicken) Bone Broth
(1) 3-4 pound chicken (as fresh and natural as you can afford)
Cold, filtered water
1 small or ½ large onion, cut into chunks
2-4 cloves garlic (depending on their size and how much you like garlic)
(1) 1-inch piece of ginger (no need to peel)
Coconut oil, butter, or ghee
Sea salt and ground pepper to taste
Any mixture of fresh/dried herbs you like (we like thyme or oregano or Herbs de Provence)
Vegetable scraps – celery leaves, carrot peels, kale stems – you name it (This is optional; it helps impart flavor; I didn’t use it this time because I hadn’t thought to save any.)
1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Rinse the chicken inside and out. (Save the neck; the gizzards are optional.) Pat dry with paper towels and place in a roasting pan. Stuff the onion, garlic, and ginger into the cavity and rub your oil of choice all over the outside then season with sea salt, pepper, and herbs of choice.
2. Place in the oven and roast for 45 minutes then place in a pot (if you have a good stock pot that can go in the oven just use this; I can’t do that with mine but it would save some dishes!)
3. There are two options for your next step; I have tried it both ways. You could put it in a stock pot to simmer on the stove or place in a slow cooker. I personally prefer the slow cooker; it doesn’t need to be watched and you don’t have to worry about it boiling too hard, boiling over, etc., but it’s up to you.
4. Place in your pot and pour in cold, filtered water to cover. Place over low heat (or your slow cooker on low) and walk away. I like to do mine in the evening, place it in the slow cooker, and go to bed. You get up in the morning and it’s all done. I remove it from the pot and let it cool. We have chicken for lunch then I completely bone it out and repeat the process, covering the bones with more filtered water (the veggies too) and bring to a boil; turn down the heat and simmer about 30 minutes to an hour, until any remaining meat has come off the bone.
5. Once you have your broth strain it into a bowl or jars and place in the refrigerator. When it’s chilled you can label it and leave it in the fridge for a quick, nourishing snack, make soup, or use in a recipe. I always leave one jar out and label the others and put in the freezer.
This just takes a little bit of time and whether you let it simmer all night or all day is up to you! It can also be personalized with whatever herbs or spices you or your family likes, and that one little chicken makes a lot of broth! I don’t always make soup, but my mom did and her version was so good I had to recreate it for you. The cabbage in it made it reminiscent of noodles and it was so yummy, so here it is!
Chicken Cabbage Soup
One quart homemade chicken broth
1 clove garlic
½ a large onion
4 stalks celery
½ a large or one small cabbage, chopped
1 Tablespoon dried thyme
1. If you have just made your chicken broth you can just add all your ingredients to the prepared broth, bring to a simmer, and leave for about 15-20 minutes to allow the veggies to soften. If I am using a jar of pre-prepared broth I like to sauté all my veggies in a little coconut oil first – it gives them great flavor!
2. That’s it! Enjoy!
3. The night I made this soup myself I was really craving bread and made these yummy coconut flour muffins that really taste like corn bread but are completely grain-free! The recipe comes from Empowered Sustenance and can be found at http://empoweredsustenance.com/paleo-cornbread-muffins/.
Hugs to you!
Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon with Mary G. Enig, Ph.D.; copyright 2001, New Trends Publishing, Inc.; pages 116-124
The Paleo Approach, by Sarah Ballantyne, PhD; copyright 2013, Victory Belt Publishing; page 196