My husband leaves the evening meal cooking to me, but he usually fends for himself for breakfast and lunch. To make these meals convenient, lately he’s been slow-cooking whole chickens, then slow cooking the bones for broth. He uses the meat in chicken salad for lunches and sips a hot cup of broth in the mornings. I like his new routine because we have extra chicken and broth to use in soups, stews or casseroles for dinner.
Recently I made two half-batches of cream of chicken soup using leftover packaged broth in one and his broth in the other, The soup with his broth was so much more flavorful that I wanted to share his technique. When I asked if he would be guest chef for this week’s column, he graciously wrote down the instructions.
A quick terminology lesson: Broth is made primarily from the meat, is cooked for a shorter time, and is thinner. Stock is primarily from the bones and is typically cooked 3 to 4 hours. With either broth or stock, the meat and bones or just the bones can be roasted before cooking. Bone broth as you would guess, is primarily from the bones. It’s different from stock in that it’s simmered much longer—24 hours with chicken and 48 hours with beef. The long cooking releases the minerals and nutrients from the bones, so much so that the bones soften and begin to break down. The addition of apple cider vinegar helps break down the bones to release their nutrients into the broth.
Bone broth is full of protein, easy-to-absorb minerals, and even natural glucosamine and chondroitin. These nutrients help digestion, benefit connective tissue, and strengthen hair and nails.
|Bill's Slow-Cooker Chicken and Bone Broth|| |
- 1 whole chicken (under 5 pounds or whatever size fits in your slow cooker); frozen or thawed
- 2 to 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 6 to 8 carrots, trimmed and peeled, OR 1 small squash, cubed, OR carrot-parsnip mix
- Place chicken (no need to defrost even if frozen solid) into 5-quart slow cooker. If giblets and neck are included, just leave them where they are and remove the giblets from the packet later. Add water to cover and cook on low about 10 hours (shorter for thawed or fresh chicken) or until meat is tender and falling off the bones.
- With tongs and a large ladle or spatula, carefully remove entire chicken to a large rectangular baking pan. Let rest until cool enough to handle. Remove giblet packet if there was one, placing the giblets back into the slow cooker. Remove meat from bones and save for another use (makes great chicken salad). Return bones and skin to slow cooker.
- Add vinegar and a cup or two of water, depending on how concentrated you want your broth. Cook on low another 4 to 6 hours.
- Add vegetables and cook another 4 to 6 hours, adding water, if necessary and stirring occasionally.
- Remove vegetables, and save to eat later, if you wish (make sure to add salt to bring out their remaining flavor).
- Turn off heat and allow slow cooker to cool enough to safely remove broth. Strain broth into heat safe container. Discard bones and skin. Place broth container in freezer for a few hours (don’t allow to freeze completely, just to quickly become cold) or refrigerator up to one day to allow fat to rise to the top and solidify. Skim off fat and discard. Refrigerate or freeze broth.
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