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Crockpot Chicken and Veggie Broth

May 1, 2012

I’ve made this recipe twice in the past few weeks, which has resulted in a somewhat alarming amount of broth in the freezer. Here’s a few reason’s why it’s worth clearing out some extra freezer space:

  1. Homemade broth is nature’s multivitamin – the bones from the chicken provide valuable minerals including calcium (and in a way that is more easily absorbed by the body than milk).  A good summary of these benefits with additional links can be found here.
  2. It tastes amazing, and will make all your broth-based recipes taste better.
  3. Great if you don’t feel well. Three words: chicken noodle soup. Or even easier, just drink the broth.
  4. It’s easy and economical to make – and it uses up leftover veggies as well as helps justify the cost of an organic chicken since you’re using it for the meat and the broth.

 

I basically used this post from Nourishing Days blog, and this one from 100 days of Real Food, for inspiration. It’s good to read through to get some tips and tricks and cooking time estimates – but other than that, this is one of the most versatile recipes there is.

Here’s how I made it:

Buy an organic rotisserie chicken (or make a roast chicken if you’re feeling adventurous). Remove the meat for other meals, and put the entire remaining carcass in the crockpot. Side note: If you are discussing this in a public place, be prepared for people to ask things like “Pardon me, did you just say carcass?”. Just nod confidently.

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Add whatever random vegetables you have to the crockpot (except maybe asparagus, broccoli, brussel sprouts, or cauliflower – those might be a bit too intense).

Here’s where the “composting” comes in, every time you chop up veggies, or make kale or collard greens – save the pieces like the stems and ends that you aren’t going to use. Or if you have carrots that have been in the fridge a bit too long (not rotting, just a bit past their prime) – then toss them in a bag in your freezer like below:

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Then when you’re ready to make broth, pull out your freezer bag, and toss the frozen veggie pieces in with the chicken.

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This batch had kale stems, chopped up onion and carrots – and I added a piece of garlic (just cut the clove or two in half) and a piece of ginger (which I keep in the freezer).

Then if you want to really go wild (relatively speaking) – add a piece of Kombu (also goes by it’s equally delicious sounding name – “Sea Cabbage”) on top. This is entirely optional, but as long as you can find it, it’s a pretty easy way to add some extra nutrition and flavor to the broth.

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Add enough cold filtered water to cover the chicken and vegetables. Per the 100 days of Real Food instructions, I added about two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to the mixture, and let it sit for one hour. According to the site, this helps get more minerals out of the chicken bones. Again, another great conversation starter for your next get-together.

Cover, and cook on low. I’ve seen a range of cooking times, but I did this batch for 12 hours. Your house will smell amazing, and then you’ll be sad because there’s no actual food. Sorry about that, Steve.

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Once it’s done, I used tongs to remove the majority of the chicken and veggies so it would be easier to pour out the broth.

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Then set a large bowl in the sink with a fine mesh strainer on top, and pour the remaining broth into it. Remove the strainer and this is what you end up with. Awesome, right?

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My favorite way to store this is to let it cool for a bit, then pour into ice cube trays. For a large crockpot of broth, you’ll need about six ice cube trays. Or you can freeze them one at a time and keep the bowl of broth covered in the fridge. Depends on your patience level and how many episodes of Grey’s Anatomy you have stored on your DVR.

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Once the cubes are frozen (about 5-6 hours), put them into several gallon sized ziploc baggies and label them. I started to double bag to help reduce freezer burn, and also prefer the bags that slide closed – easier to take out and reclose from the freezer.

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The cubes are great because they defrost fast and you can pull exactly the amount you want out. Plus they work well for when you just need a little broth as flavoring.

If I’m making a large batch of soup, I’ll melt down the cubes on the stove or in the microwave, and then add some filtered water – usually about 3/4 broth to 1/4 water, or half broth and half water. It depends on your preference and how concentrated the broth is to start with. Add in some brown rice (some people might use the steam in the bag kind – no one’s judging), chicken (you already have some on hand, remember?), and veggies.

Also, try adding a broth cube the next time you cook greens. Cook the greens in olive oil first for a minute, and then add a frozen cube and keep cooking until the cube melts. Just as good as the original recipe but it softens the greens up a bit more and adds instant flavor.

Or if you want your dog to love you forever, give them a frozen broth cube outside on a hot day. Consider it a much less expensive frozen woofie.

And that’s how you do broth, baby!

(Cake Boss reference, anyone?)

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