Ina Garten‘s “Barefoot Contessa” is one of my favorite cooking shows. She often references using homemade chicken stock in her recipes. And even though Ina qualifies it by saying you can substitute store-bought stock or broth, the mere mention of homemade chicken stock only served to make me feel inadequate. At least it did until very recently when I finally figured out if you have five minutes, a few key ingredients and a crock pot you can make homemade chicken stock.*
Paleo eating means getting back to basics and eliminating as much processed food from your diet as possible. But, admittedly, this can take a decent amount of time in comparison to eating more processed foods. Our busy lives often mean we forego some of the more healthful practices. But good chicken stock does not take as much effort as you might think and the health benefits are tremendous.
Benefits of Homemade Chicken Stock
The importance of the homemade version is not only what is NOT in it (preservatives, the ever popular neurotoxin known as Monosodium Glutamate or MSG, gluten, etc…) but what IS in it. Chicken stock requires a lengthy cooking time to extract all the beneficial ingredients from the bones but the preparation time takes only a few minutes.
Here’s a list of some of the healthful things found in bones and bone stock:
- Bone marrow
- Collagen and gelatin
- Hyaluronic acid
- Chondroitin sulfate
- Sulfur, potassium, and sodium
Rather than spending money buying supplements for these vitamins and minerals you can ingest them in a form that is easily absorbed by your body -delicious homemade chicken stock. (Talk to your doctor before changing any supplementation.) For more information about the benefits of bone broth please see the Weston A. Price website article on the subject, here.
- bones and other parts of one chicken (Our youngest son has gymnastics class on Thursday afternoons so we have gotten into a routine of swinging by the grocery store and grabbing a roasted chicken to make dinner easier. After we pick the bird clean I throw it in the crock pot.)
- 2 carrots (or equivalent carrot scrapings you have saved)
- 2 celery stalks
- 1 medium onion – chopped into large chunks
- 4 crushed garlic cloves
- 6 peppercorns
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tablespoons of vinegar (helps to extract nutrients from the bones)
- 8-10 cups of water (enough to cover ingredients completely)
- 1 tablespoon sea salt
Place all the ingredients (except the salt) in the crock pot and cook on low for 24 hours.
After the time is up, let everything cool then strain through a sieve into a large bowl and discard the solids. I like to add about 1 tablespoon of celtic sea salt at this point but you can adjust the salt to your taste. Here’s a shot of my finished stock. The color is dark and rich like the taste.
The very last step is to fill some glass containers for storage. You can keep the homemade chicken stock in the refrigerator for 2-3 days or freeze it. While it is in the refrigerator it’s a good idea to leave the fat that forms on top. It helps keep out bacteria until you are ready to use it. You can even reduce the stock down to a more concentrated form for storage. Some people like to freeze it in ice-cube trays so it is readily available to add to recipes in smaller amounts.
The last time I made chicken stock I used 8-10 cups of water (not sure exactly) and I ended up with enough to fill 2 quart jars. I used it to make a soup with some sausage, carrots, garlic and kale. It was really yummy and I attribute a lot of the flavor to good quality stock. So I may not have achieved Ina’s culinary status but I can now make a mean chicken stock and you can too!
* you can use a stock pot too if you prefer but you will need to keep a closer eye on the progress of the chicken stock.
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