It’s here! I know you’ve been breathlessly waiting for this post! Or not. Pretend for me anyway?
Actually, I made this about a month ago.
But then I turned 30 and people threw me a party and gave me a beautiful brand-new road bike and I’ve been gazing longingly at it for a week straight now. I even took it out for a spin, but the country winds and 20-degree chill encouraged me back home to my warm living room where I could resume gazing:)
Anyway, I mentioned on this podcast that I wanted to learn how to make my own chicken base. Since then, hundreds of people (ok, one person) have asked me if I’ve made it yet, so I’m happy to report that I have! And it’s pretty easy to do!
Disclaimer- sorry about the terrible pictures… I lost my camera for about two weeks and had to use my iPod to take pictures. Fortunately, my husband found my camera, and it turns out it was right where I left it. In the last place I looked. (All those childhood memories of Mom saying those things coming back to you yet? I have more!)
Read through the directions first! You need to refrigerate the stock before adding all the veggies!
What you will need: (Recipe can be doubled)
- one whole chicken
- 2-3 sticks of celery, chopped
- 1/2 – 1 whole onion (or onion salt if you forgot to buy onions…), chopped
- 2-3 carrots, chopped
- garlic salt
- stick blender or food processor
- Place rinsed whole chicken in large stockpot, cover with water so the water is about 1-2 inches above the top of the chicken. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 45 minutes or until chicken is completely cooked.
- Remove chicken to cutting board. Allow to cool slightly, then remove all meat from bones, returning bones to stockpot. If possible, snap some of the smaller bones in half so the bone marrow will cook into your stock! I know it sounds gross, but it is very good for you! Reserve chicken meat, you will be adding some of it back in at the end.
- Boil the bones for another 30 minutes or until they are “clean” (nearly no meat left on them at all). At this point, the easiest method for removing all the bones is to strain the broth into a new, smaller pot.
- Refrigerate stock overnight. Once completely cooled, the fat will rise to the top and you can easily skim it off. Return to stove, bring to a boil.
- Add celery, onions, carrots, salt and pepper to taste (like 1/2 tsp of each, you can add more later), turmeric to color. (By color, I mean add it until your broth is a nice yellow color that looks attractive to you. Or don’t add it at all if those things don’t matter to you. Personally, a yellow broth tricks my brain into thinking it’s gourmet. I know that’s weird, but who am I to argue with my brain?)
- Now the
boringfun part. Bring stock to a boil, then reduce heat so it is boiling gently, not too hard. Now walk away and find something else to for an hour while your stock reduces. This amount of time will depend heavily on your broth-to-vegetable ratio. The more broth you have, the longer this will take to reduce, of course. Once your stock has reduced to about half, add 1 cup of chicken meat back in. Using a stick blender (also referred to as an immersion blender) or transferring your stock to a food processor, puree all ingredients. If your base is still thin, continue to gently boil until it is reduced to the thickness you desire. You could also add more chicken and puree that in, as that will also increase the consistency as well as the protein content!
A couple of notes:
- I added the vegetables after the bones were drained so you wouldn’t have to try to fish all the bones out amongst the veggies. Since it needs to reduce anyway, there’s time for the veggies to cook down.
- I added the chicken last after the first reduction because I believe overcooked chicken isn’t going to make this taste all that amazing.
- You will probably need to add more salt at the end. When you taste it, it should taste way too salty. Keep in mind that you are adding this to water or broth to enhance the flavor of your soups! (It’s also a sneaky way to get picky eaters to eat veggies and chicken!)
- I looked everywhere on the Internet for chicken base recipes, and didn’t find anything very specific, so this is very unscientific, of course! I did read somewhere that cooking the bones too long will also result in an undesirable taste, I have never stumbled upon that misfortune though. But I thought I’d warn you. Probably cooking them just until all the meat falls off is sufficient.
- I was going for a very similar product to Better Than Bouillon, because that’s what I buy and like. I could not get it to the exact consistency to BTB, so I tried adding ClearJel to some of it to experiment (because at that point I was still planning on canning it, and you can use ClearJel to can with, unlike cornstarch). I do not recommend this to you because while it did thicken it to the consistency I wanted, it also deadened the taste substantially and I had to add a lot more salt than I would have preferred. The rest of my base that I did not thicken with ClearJel, while thin, did not require as much added salt to achieve the taste my family likes. The next time I make this, I will add more chicken, which will help it be closer to the BTB consistency I so desire. The nice part about that is you can always add more and more chicken since it’s the last thing you do! (I don’t know why I didn’t think of that when I was cooking it. Hindsight. 20/20. ‘Nuff said.)
- I ended up freezing my base into ice cube trays rather than canning it. I still plan on canning it in the future, I just ran out of desire to spend any more time in the kitchen this particular day. The ice cube tray method works perfectly though, and is just as convenient as canning it, I think. To use it, I just add one or two cubes to my soups and they melt right in! It’s pretty cool, actually, and I feel a little bit like a genius. I can see the Pin now: “One ice cube tray of chicken base equals 8 quarts of broth!” Or whatever. Pinterest is annoying. And cool. I’m annoyed by all the make-your-life-easier stuff on it and yet I’m wildly addicted to it. I need a Pinners Anonymous Group or something. PAG.
- I’m in a weird mood today.
- Your base may have turned out differently than mine. You will have to play around with experimenting to find exactly what your taste buds like. Start with one cube per quart, and if that isn’t flavorful enough, add another one. I actually added up to 4 cubes to one soup I made where I had started with water! If you start with broth, you’ll need less base.