People looking to improve their health through eating whole foods can’t do much better than learning to make and use homemade broth rather than buying pre-packaged commercial. The reasons why range from tradition to being sure to get as much nutrition from food as possible.
As a matter of survival of the species, and ways to get adequate nutrition without compromising on taste, we humans developed cooking methods. Every now and then, one master recipe came along, and still survives in almost all cultures to be a base in multiple other recipes. One of those recipes is broth. The ingredients may vary based on what is available at any one time, but the idea is the same. Simmer livestock bones in water to bring out the nutrients, and give food a savory taste.
The name of any one broth itself is identified by the bones or ingredients used to make it: chicken broth, beef broth, veal broth, and some people have been known to make vegetable broth. (Will tackle this another time.) This writer and cook chooses to make both chicken broth and beef a few times between fall and spring, divide it and store it for use later.
To make this master recipe, you will need:
A big pot with a lid – how big of a pot to use depends on the amount of meat and bones used.
A single beef soup marrow bone with meat – 4 quart
2 pounds of beef bones – 6 quart
Whole cut up chicken – 6 quart
Stewing Hen – 8 quart
Previously roasted chicken carcass that has NOT been picked – 6 or 8 quart depending on the size of the bird
Yes, my kitchen has a whole lot of pots.
Meat and bones – see the chart above for options. If veal bones are available, those are also an option. With chicken, always throw in the giblets and neck if they come with the meat.
Carrots – 2-4 BIG, beefy ones, cut in large pieces
Celery – 3 ribs, cut in large pieces. Use some leaves as well.
Yellow Onion – one, peeled and chopped in big chunks
Kosher or sea salt – 1-2 tablespoons to taste (optional)
- Take the meat and bones and put them in the bottom of the pot.
- Dump in the veggies and salt.
- Pour in water until it is about two inches below the top of the pot.
- Put the pot on the stove with the lid covering it.
- Turn on the gas. At first, it might be a good idea to start at about a medium, and turn the fire low once the concoction starts to simmer. For electric stoves, I would put the dial on about a 2-3.
- Once the pot begins to simmer (light boil), keep it covered and let it go for about an hour and a half to two hours. (The longer it cooks, the more flavor, but the less there will be of it.)
- At desired doneness, turn off the fire, and let the pot cool for a few hours. (This will not hurt it, especially if you’re going to boil it in another recipe later.)
- Using slotted spoons and a mesh strainer, fish out the meat and set it aside. Scoop out the veggies. I usually pitch them at this point, but they are perfectly fine to go back in the broth if there is a quick turnaround (you’re making soup immediately).
At this point, actually making soup or stew with the broth is doable. However, if one is making broth to be stored for future use, there are those that can it, but I choose to freeze it:
- Put the cooler broth into some sort of large container and put in the refrigerator overnight.
- Either chop the meat and store it in the freezer for use later, or put it in the fridge for snacks.
- At a good time the next day, scoop off all the fat that will have congealed on the top, and strain the broth through a mesh strainer to get as much of the fat out as possible. (There will always be some left.)
- Using quart sized Ziploc freezer bags and a Sharpie, write today’s date, the name of the broth, and how much (i.e., 2 cups, 4 cups) is in the bag on the tag. (I divide my broth into 2 cup sections as that is an easy, even amount to work with for rice, just drinking the broth, or making a single bowl of soup.)
- Measure the desired amount of broth into a liquid measuring cup and pour it in. (I also prop open the bags in another container to keep from making a mess during the process.)
- Close the bags and freeze.
What this allows for, as mentioned above, is pre-measured packets of homemade broth available any time a cook needs it. To thaw, take the packet out of the freezer and put in a bowl of cool water.
Some notes about broth:
Some recipes call for using other spices like whole peppercorns, garlic and bay leaves. There is no reason other than the taste of future dishes NOT to use these items. It is strictly a matter of personal preference. If these flavors are desired, go for it.
Many beef bone broth recipes call for the bones to be roasted at 350-400 degrees for half an hour (turn once) before putting them in the water. I’ve tried that. Either way is fine.
After making chicken broth for years, the best broths come from either a stewing hen, or a previously roasted chicken that has not had the meat picked off of it, especially the back. (Cut off the breast meat, though.) Just dump it in the pot, roasting veggies and all. The roasting seasoning delights the palates in this house.
So, there you have it. Seraphina’s simple broth master recipe. With fall just around the corner, a couple pots are in order.