There are many different ways to make homemade chicken broth. Some are quite complicated (but rewarding) while others are easier to accomplish when you have a busy schedule to keep. Either way, you can make your own rich and flavorful chicken broth that is delicious and nutritious — not to mention a thousand times better than any store-bought broth!
Here are a few cooking tips for you…
1. Broth should be simmered, not boiled.
We live in a hurry-up society. Often, this mentality transfers over into the kitchen where we end up taking too many shortcuts in our cooking. Shortcuts are good for saving time, yes, but sometimes the flavor of our food suffers as a result. Chicken broth is an excellent example of this.
If you are making homemade broth, you should simmer it, not boil it. Boiling will cause the chicken fat, or grease, to blend into the broth, making it heavy and thick. Simmering keeps your broth smooth and light. It also allows you to de-fat the broth, leaving you with some nice chicken fat to use in your cooking in other delicious ways.
2. De-fatting the broth – what’s that all about?
After you make your broth, you should de-fat it. You can use a fat separator (if you have one) to de-fat hot broth right away. Or, you can do what most cooks do. Let the broth chill in the fridge for a few hours, and then using a slotted spoon, remove the fat, which will be solidified on the top of the broth. So easy! The amount of fat you remove will vary based on the amount of fat in your chicken.
3. Keep the chicken fat!
It’s no joke – chicken fat, also called “schmaltz,” is packed with flavor and is a favorite of chefs everywhere. Use it to make homemade soups and stews and when you sauté vegetables. You can even use schmaltz in place of butter in many recipes! It makes a delicious and savory addition to homemade gravies. Use it in place of butter when making a roux. Chicken fat will keep in the refrigerator for a few days but it also freezes very well. (I love it so much I’m never without it!)
Now that you’ve got some tips on creating a perfect homemade chicken broth, here’s my recipe to get you started. Once you try it, you won’t want to cook with anything but homemade broth.
Easy & Quick Chicken Broth Recipe
- 4 pounds chicken leg quarters, cut into pieces OR a whole chicken carcass, left over from previous roasting (I like to make stock the day after I roast a chicken for a meal).
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 5 whole peppercorns
- ½ head of garlic, peeled and chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- cold water
*Dress this simple recipe up with any root vegetables, like leeks, carrots, or celery and any herbs you have on hand. Rosemary, parsley, and thyme make great additions. Get as fancy as you’d like!
NOTE: A cleaver or heavy-duty chef’s knife is the best tool for cutting the chicken legs. You can also ask your butcher to cut the leg quarters for you – just tell him you are making homemade stock!
- If you are using chicken leg quarters, brown them in one or two tablespoons of oil for approximately 10 minutes. If you are using a chicken carcass, you can skip this step.
- Put chicken (bones and all), vegetables, herbs, garlic, salt, peppercornsmand bay leaves in a large and deep pan. Add enough cold water to cover.
- Bring to a boil. Skim off any froth, and then immediately turn down to a simmer.
- Continue to simmer the mixture very gently for 1-2 hours. Gentle is the key here. No boiling! You may wish to simmer longer if you have thick pieces of chicken or large bones in the mixture.
- Strain broth into large bowl and let stand for 15-20 minutes.
- De-fat the broth. (See steps mentioned in tips section above.)
- Remove any meat from the bones. Throw out the skin and bones, but keep the meat for later use or in soups, etc.
After the broth has cooled, it should look clear and slightly brown to amber in color. Divide it into small containers and freeze it. It will keep in the fridge for about a week and in the freezer for several months. I recommend making homemade stock anytime you have extra chicken or you have a roasted or cooked carcass so you’ll always have plenty on hand for soups and general cooking needs.