Thanks to the traditional food movement, millions of people are re-discovering and re-learning how to prepare simple nutrient-dense foods at home. Without a doubt, homemade stocks (also called broths), like chicken and beef stock are a big part of that trend.
As a Nutritional Therapist, I consider a properly made chicken and beef stock a super food, chock full of nutrients that support a wide range of health issues.
Notice though that I said, “properly made.”
Unfortunately, there are no store-bought stocks that are properly made. They all contain chemical flavorings, even the organic ones, to mimic the flavor of real stocks. And that’s because a real stock is slowly simmered for extended periods which draws out nutrients that support things like bone and joint health, digestive and immune health and even mental health. That slow simmering is also what gives stocks their flavor.
Chicken and beef stock are certainly the two most common types of homemade bone stocks. Once you learn the basics, you’ll have the foundation for an infinite amount of simple stock-based soups.
Simply simmer a whole chicken or any chicken parts in water with vegetables and herbs.
1. Remove the chicken after 3-5 hours and remove the meat from the bones. It should be well cooked and very tender. Reserve the meat for chicken salad or for a wonderful chicken soup. Return bones to water and continue simmering for 12-24 hours.
2. For a lighter broth, simmer for 2-8 hours.
3. Adding fresh herbs at the end of the simmering imparts additional minerals and flavors. Parsley and thyme are two common additions.
4. You can also do the above with just chicken bones. Save your bones in your freezer until you have enough to make a stock. Add in some additional chicken parts (necks, backs, etc.) if you have them for more depth.
5. When the stock cools, a layer of fat will form on the surface. Despite what every fat-phobic recipe on the internet says, don’t skim it off. It will act as a seal and keep your stock fresher in the fridge for a longer period. When you do break the seal you can either save the fat for use in other recipes (gravies, sautéing, etc.) or dissolve it back into the broth. Dissolving it back is a matter of personal preference. It will make your broth a little heavier. Perhaps wonderful for a cold winter night but not so much for other uses. You can also feed it to your dog who will love you for it!
Beef stock is a little more time intensive as the thicker bones require more exposure to heat to withdraw their nutrients. Meatier bones can also be roasted as they’ll impart a deeper, richer flavor. It’s not totally necessary though and I often skip it.
1. Place non-meaty bones and vegetables in stock pot, cover with water and add vinegar. Let sit for one hour.
2. Roast meaty bones in oven set at 400 degrees tile browned (not charred!) for 15-30 minutes. Add to stock pot. Deglaze the drippings from the roasting pan by adding water or red wine over high heat and scraping with a spatula. Add deglazed drippings to pot.
3. Bring to a boil, skim scum that rises to surface and reduce heat to a very gentle simmer.
4. Add wine, peppercorns, bay leaves and thyme.
5. Simmer for at least 12 hours but as long as 72 hours.
6. Remove the bones and strain broth in a fine mesh or cheesecloth-lined colander.
7. Cool and transfer to fridge or freezer.
Tips and Variations
1. If you can’t get a good variety of bones, that’s OK. Any bones will do. Work with what you have and what you can get. All of them will still impart valuable minerals and nutrients. The great thing about broths is that you can always spice them up after the fact. Some folks even prefer blander broths for that reason. You can even exclude the veggies for all of the above broths as well.
2. You can roast the vegetables with the meaty bones as well.
3. Simmering should be very gentle. Never rapidly boil the bones which can affect the flavor. A good indication of the right temperature is a few bubbles rising to the surface here and there.
4. As with the chicken stock, save the fat that congeals at the surface with cooling!
OK, so now you have some chicken and beef stock. Now what?
My new book, Fearless Broths and Soups, will show you!
It includes dozens of chicken and beef stock-based soup recipes to get you started.
And as the tagline says, I truly wrote this book for “real people on real budgets.”
All of the recipes emphasize simplicity. They’re geared to all you stressed out moms and dads and workaholics trying to figure out how to eat well with limited funds and time.
Here’s a little of what you’ll learn:
Craig Fear is the creator of Fearless Eating and the author of three books, The 30-Day Heartburn Solution, Fearless Broths and Soups and The Thai Soup Secret. After years helping clients with digestive issues, Craig decided to pursue writing full-time. He intends to write many more books on broths and soups from around the world! Click here to learn more about Craig.