I know, I know. The language is a bit strong...an epiphany over chicken stock?!
But if you've read much on nutritious cooking, a good homemade stock pretty much gets #1 on the list of must-haves. It's full of minerals and valuable electrolytes, it's easy on your digestive system, promotes digestive healing, reduces allergies, helps your body get every bit of value out of the protein you eat, boosts your immune system, and is frugal and easy to make. Basically, it's a wonder food. You just have to know how to make it right.
My mom taught me how to make chicken stock when I was a teenager, and I had always used a relatively similar process. However, the nutrition experts said to simmer the stock for 6-24 hours to get the full nutrition from the marrow, and by then, my stock smelled so overcooked I didn't even want to taste it.
But I have overcome. And you can too. (if you care, that is). The secret is to simmer the bones for 6-24 hours, but add the veggies in only at the very end. It was the vegetables that were getting nastily overcooked.
This is my new method (my apologies to recipe lovers everywhere--just apply this method to your favorite stock recipe if you are into following rules and that kind of thing):
- Soak chicken bones in cold water to generously cover, along with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, for an hour or so. (The vinegar helps get the minerals and gelatin out of the bones and into your broth).
- Simmer on low heat all day, for 6-24 hours.
- An hour or two before you're taking it off, add two quartered onions (with the peel on), a couple celery stalks, several chunked carrots, parsley, salt, and whatever herbs you desire in the pot.
- Drain broth into a large bowl, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate overnight. You'll know sweet success if your broth has turned into a gelatin--this means you've gotten all the good stuff! You can skim the fat, but it's a good-for you kind of unsaturated fat, so I usually keep it.
- I freeze my broth in two- and four-cup portions, and make an ice cube tray of broth cubes for those times where you just need a 1/4 c. of broth.
I am now making stock every time I get a good bag of leftover chicken bones saved up in my freezer, which is about every week or two. Since it's so nutritious, I substitute broth in for the water in casseroles, rice, stew, and even pasta sauces. It tastes 10 times better than Swansons, and is infinitely more nutritious.
Just had to share my latest culinary victory!