Sue’s Super Chicken Stock
Makes 6-8 quarts. Your grandma was right about chicken soup for healing!!!
Ingredient Note: The best stock contains a mixture of roasted and raw bones. Simmering bone broth for several hours concentrates the flavors and healing properties of the meat, bones, and cartilage. It also concentrates any toxins present in the bones. Because of this, you want the very highest quality chickens you can find. Local, sustainably raised, pastured chickens are the best. At a minimum you want a chicken with no antibiotics or growth hormones, preferably organic and free-range, and definitely raised and processed in the US. I roast a lot of chicken, but we also buy rotisserie chickens from an international farmers’ market that sells only chickens that meet these standards. You can use the bones from rotisserie chickens. Also, the bones from cooked chicken breasts. Obviously, you don’t want anyone to chew on them first!
Note: According to Spring Forest Qigong founder and master healer, Chunyi Lin, ancient wisdom says to remove the wing tips (farthest from the body) and tail of the chicken before using for soup.
Collect bones in the freezer until you have enough for a pot of broth. A typical pot, for me, will be:
Carcasses from 2-3 home roasted or rotisserie birds, ½ doz. raw chicken feet, and any necks, hearts or gizzards you’ve saved. Bones like these, with lots of cartilage, are especially helpful! If you have bones from rotisserie chickens, save the jelly like juice in the bottom of the container and add it to broth. Don’t throw the good stuff out!!! Local farmers often have specials on necks, feet, backs, etc. (Livers don’t go in the soup pot. Save them in the freezer for something like dirty rice.)
Assemble your collection of bones, thawing what is frozen and considering the mixture you have. If, for example, you have all raw bones, start by roasting some of the meatiest. Preheat oven to 400 F. Into an iron skillet or roasting tray, place:
2 Tbsp. olive oil, with bones to be roasted. Salt and pepper bones.
Roast for ½ hr. to 45 min until nicely browned. They do not need to be fully
cooked. Reserve all juices and add to broth. While bones are roasting, place into 10 qt. stockpot:
Raw bones, 1-2 lb. feet, necks, backs, skin, etc. with one good glug (about 3 Tbsp.) organic apple cider vinegar “with the mother”.
Cover and allow to sit 45 min. off the heat. After 45 min., set burner to medium high and begin bringing to boil.
Add roasted bones.
When stock reaches a boil, skim and discard any foam or clumpy stuff that rises to surface. Allow to boil gently until no more foam forms to skim, about 15 min. You’ll also skim off some of the fat which floats to the top. That’s fine, but fat in bone broth is not a bad thing. There are actually components in the fat and skin that help you absorb the nutrients in the stock! Reduce heat until pot holds a moderate simmer. Don’t try to rush it! Cooking at too high a temperature will cloud your broth and add a background note of bitterness to the taste. Add:
3 or 4 med-large onion, halved, with skins; 3 or 4 garlic bulbs, halved, with paper; 3-4 raw bay leaves (or 1-2 dried ones); med. bundle of fresh thyme sprigs, about as big around as a quarter, tied with white cotton string. If you happen to have some fresh parsley stems around, tie them with the thyme and toss them in, too.
Continue adjusting heat until a pot maintains a gentle simmer. This recipe makes a rich, tasty broth that can be used in many ways. Don’t muddy the flavor by tossing in all the miscellaneous old stuff in your fridge. That’s called compost!
Cook for at least 4 hours and not more than 6 for a clean flavor, with all the nutrients pulled out into the broth. You can put a lid partially covering the pot for some of the cooking time to lessen the amount of water that cooks out, making the broth somewhat less concentrated, or leave the lid off and allow it to reduce more, concentrating the flavors. If you wish to add additional water during cooking to increase the amount of stock, you must use very hot water, about 180-190 degrees F.
When you’re happy with the color and intensity of the broth, remove from heat and allow to cool an hour or two. Scoop all bones and aromatics from the broth and discard. Remember, you’re going to use this broth to add flavor and nutrients to other recipes. Resist the urge to salt or adjust seasonings now.
After scooping out bones, etc. from the pot, strain into another container through a fine mesh sieve, being sure to get all bones! You may use some of the broth immediately, if you care to. Otherwise, chill broth overnight in fridge. You’ll know you’ve got a great batch if it gets jiggly, like soft jello!!! (If not, it’s still a miracle! Just keep practicing!)
Transfer broth to quart and pint sized plastic containers, preferably BPA free. Leave 1 inch headroom, as stock will expand when frozen. Lable, including date, and freeze until needed, up to 6 mo. I try to thaw stock overnight in the fridge before using. When that isn’t possible, thaw on counter, with container on a kitchen saucer or salad plate, monitoring so that it doesn’t start to warm.