For this project, it was necessary for me to purchase two new items.
The first item was a large 16-quart stock pot:
This shiny, red stock pot comes with a steamer insert, which I can’t wait to use the next time I try making tamales. (The Imusa brand calls it a “tamalera” in Spanish because it can be used to steam tamales.)
The second new item of purchase was a chicken:
I am 30 years old and have never purchased a whole chicken! This is because I went pescatarian (vegetarian + fish) at age 22 and did not bring poultry and pork back into my diet until I was married and 30 years old. (I still do not eat red meat.) Thus, for most of my adult life, I never cooked meat, which means that many of my food projects are simply to learn how to cook particular cuts of meat! I like to eat chicken now, but handling this chicken kind of creeped me out. But I digress . . .
Using the Barefoot Contessa as a guide, I used the following ingredients to make my homemade chicken broth:
6 carrots, topped and halved lengthwise (rinse but do not peel)
4 celery ribs, each cut into three pieces (keep the delicious leaves!)
1 yellow onion, quartered (keep the root and outer skin)
1 garlic bulb, halved crosswise (keep the skins)
several sprigs of fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley
a few sprigs of fresh thyme
1 sprig of fresh sage
2 tablespoons kosher salt, to start (by the end, I used 6 T. total)
2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns
1 whole chicken, rinsed
Put everything in the large stock pot . . .
. . . and add enough water (I used filtered water from our Brita pitcher) to cover all the ingredients.
Cover the pot, bring to a boil and then simmer the contents covered for 4 hours, stirring occasionally. Your house will smell good!
Remove the lid and taste the broth. Does it taste watered down? If so, turn the heat up to medium and simmer the contents more robustly with the lid off to concentrate the flavors. Taste the broth every 15 minutes until you are satisfied with the depth of flavor. You may also need to add salt to bring out all the flavors, and I suggest doing this a tablespoon at a time each time you re-taste the broth. It took an hour of “robust simmering” and 4 additional tablespoons of salt to make this batch of broth just right.
The final steps are to cool the broth, strain it and pour it into containers for freezing. I found some great deli-style plastic quart containers at Smart & Final. Here’s my finished product:
I cannot believe how deep this broth’s color is compared to the Swanson broth that I was accustomed to using. I look forward to using this broth the next time I make soup!
A note about the strained solids: they looked a mess. But I picked the chicken meat out of the tangled mess of stringy herbs, bones, and mushy veggies, and I put the meat in a plastic bag in the fridge. I’m not sure whether the chicken itself retained any flavor or whether this will be worth the effort. I will post an update after I use it this week. [UPDATE: On its own, the chicken meat was a little sapped for flavor, but simmering the meat with seasonings made for some pretty good chicken tacos.]