Just In Time for Halloween…

What in the world is that? Gross, right?

Well, I leapt over a huge hurdle on my Real Food journey and made an amazing, nutrient-dense and, yes, DELICIOUS chicken broth from some wonderful CHICKEN FEET!

Real, homemade chicken broth is one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet, and is considered a cure-all by many traditional cultures. One of the tenets of the Weston A. Price Foundation is that Broth is Beautiful. (Click on that link for an excellent article on why; I learned some tips reviewing it just now which I will add into the post below. I should have read it BEFORE making my broth!)

The important thing to consider before making a bone-broth is where your bones come from. Food sourcing is a topic we’ll keep coming back to. It is imperative that you start from healthy, non-toxic ingredients to make healthy, life-giving food! Animals need to eat well themselves to be something worth eating. (Not to mention, it’s the humane thing to do to allow animals to live and eat in a way that respects how they were created.) I bought my chicken feet from a farm a few hours from my home. The chickens are pastured, eat their natural diet, breath real air, and don’t take any medicine or antibiotics (because they don’t need to!). They are slaughtered humanely and cleanly. (Look for a future post for help sourcing healthy/ humane meat and poultry.)

BONUS: Even healthy chicken feet are CHEAP!

Here’s how I made my broth, incorporating some of the chef’s tips from Kelly the Kitchen Kop’s post here.

First, I cut up onions, carrots and celery for my mirepoix. (The ratio should be about 2:1:1, respectively.) (Another note: Celery leaves add a lot of flavor!) Since this will eventually be discarded, I chopped roughly and didn’t even peel my carrots. (Clean and organic only, please!)

To extract the best flavor from your veggies, it is important to saute (or roast) them. I opted to saute them in good ol’ butter, which is about my favorite thing in the world. (Look for a future post on butter sourcing.) Because of the amount, I needed to use two pots: An 8-quart high stock-pot and a 5-quart braising pan.

I think this is a chef no-no (sauteing in just butter) but it didn't burn and was delicious!

I think another no-no is sauteing in a high stockpot like the top one. I did notice a difference in texture between the veggies in the two pots, but it didn't affect the taste in any way.

So, once the veggies were tender and smelled delicious, it was time to add in the chicken feet! Mine were frozen, so I quickly realized I’d have a problem dividing them into the two pans. There was no counter-smashing and breaking them up; they were solid as a rock. (That’d be really gross, anyway.) So, I threw them into the larger stockpot and figured I’d separate them as they thawed a bit. (According the article I linked above, I only needed two to four chicken feet, and not a whole bag! Luckily, chicken feet are very cheap, and I can tell you my broth is very rich and flavorful!)

I love how the steam makes this look like a witches' cauldron!

As the feet broke up, and I began to add filtered water, I realized that I would be able to make the entire broth in one pot. (I still think it was a good idea to saute the veggies in two pans; one would have been too crowded. Next time I may try roasting them instead.) So, I dumped the veggies from the braising pot into the stockpot (and the hot veggies helped thaw my chicken feet, as well).

I continued to add filtered water. The correct ratio should divide your pot into thirds, with one third being veggies, one third being bones (or in this case, feet) and one third being filtered water. As this came to a boil I added a splash of raw apple cider vinegar to help extract minerals from the bones. (Actually, I get carried away with vinegar because I love it, so I sort of glugged it in. I could taste it in my finished broth, but I liked it.) I also added in some seasonings: garlic powder, thyme and Celtic sea salt. After getting it to a boil, I turned it way down and let it simmer away. (At this point, I apparently should have removed the scum that rose to the surface to protect the flavor. I skipped this, and I don’t think it adversely affected the taste, but I will do it in the future.)

The recommendation is for chicken broth to simmer ‘all day.’ By the time mine got to simmering it was about 5pm. I am still uncomfortable leaving the stove on and going to sleep, so I turned it off around 11pm, and just let it sit covered on the stove. I restarted it the next morning around 6am and let it simmer until about 1pm. I figured that should do the trick.

When the broth was done, I strained it in a flour-sack cloth inside a colander. Looks yummy, huh?

But here’s the money shot:

Look how rich and gorgeous! Liquid gold!

Now what do you do with all this broth?

I’m glad you asked. After letting it cool for a few hours, I got the broth ready to freeze. First, I used four ice-cube trays to save small portions for adding to all kinds of recipes (and for reheating foods). In my trays, cubes are just about one ounce each, and I made 48 of those, and let them freeze overnight. (Remember to NEVER put any hot food or liquid into plastic. It would be best not to use plastic at all, but I’m not quite there yet.)

For when I need larger amounts of broth, I measured 2-cup portions into quart-sized ziplock bags, and got three of these.

I had a leftover 1/3-cup portion that fit into a snack-sized ziploc.

I froze those flat overnight, and then put all of them a gallon freezer bag for storage. The same for the ice-cubes. They popped out pretty easily after sitting at room temperature for a few minutes and having some lukewarm water run over the back of the trays.

So how do you use it?

Another great question! I’ll be posting lots of great recipes in the future, but for today I pulled two of the 2-cup portions out of the freezer. They thawed in a bowl of warm water in minutes. Two and quarter cups are soaking lentils for tonight’s dinner, and the rest my daughter and I are just having straight (with an extra pinch of sea salt) with lunch; we’re both trying to fight off some kind of cold or virus.

Remember, broth is beautiful!


2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by noelle on November 8, 2010 at 11:13 pm

    oh my goodness, this may give me nightmares! lol. the end result did look delicious. i’m so excited about your blog, i can’t put my laptop down! many questions you’ve answered. can’t wait for the next post!


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