Last week I bought a whole organic chicken for the first time. It has taken me a while to get up the gumption to do it, because I’ll be honest, I don’t want to be touching chicken offal. I also have no desire to do anything resembling butchering. I understand that to get food on the table, someone has to cut up the chicken parts. Here’s the thing, though — the privilege of having someone else butcher meat costs money. Organic whole chickens are priced at my grocery store for $3.49/lb, which is considerably less than organic boneless, skinless chicken breasts, which are $7.99/lb.
Since watching Food, Inc., my husband and I have made it a priority to buy organic meat whenever possible. We don’t do it 100% of the time, but when I find strategies like this one to make it more affordable, the little bit of extra work is worth it.
Thankfully, I finally found a way to prepare a whole chicken to maximize the meat yield, while decreasing my exposure to anything resembling guts. I was inspired by Heavenly Homemakers, which describes how to make one chicken stretch for 6 meals. I ended up with enough meat for three “stretch meals (where chicken is the supporting player rather than the star), 3 jars of chicken soup, and 2 jars of broth from that one chicken.
Today I’m going to describe how I made the broth. It literally could not be easier. In a future post, I’ll tell you what to do with all that delicious chicken meat
Homemade Chicken Broth
1 whole organic chicken
Lots of Water (I didn’t measure)
Carrots, Onions, Garlic, and Celery, roughly chopped
1/4 cup kosher salt (use less if you want low-sodium broth)
First, unwrap the chicken, and place it in a large, tall stockpot. Fill with water until the water is just covering the chicken. Dump all the veggies and the salt in, and give it a little stir.
Turn the burner on to medium-high until the water is boiling. Then turn it down to low and simmer for 4-6 hours.
You know it’s done when the meat is falling off the bone and chicken parts are floating around your pot. Lift the chicken out, and place on a large tray. Separate the good chicken meat from the bones and the organs. This is the only slightly icky part, and trust me, it wasn’t that bad. The chicken was cooked so well, all the meat came off the bone easily and I didn’t have to touch organs or anything.
When you’re done, place a large strainer inside a larger bowl, and dump in the whole she-bang. The bones and yucky stuff will stay in the strainer, and you’ll have several servings worth of savory, delicious broth — 100% organic and free from preservatives and additives. Place in mason jars, let cool, and freeze for up to 6 months. There will be a layer of fat on the top of the broth when cool, and you could easily skim it off. I like to leave it on, though, especially when using the broth to make soup, because it gives the broth a rich, hearty flavor that my family (well, my husband) loves.
NOTE: You could easily do this from start to finish in a crock pot. The only reason I didn’t is because I have 2 small crockpots, and neither would fit my chicken. If you have cooked a whole chicken in a slow cooker before, I’d love to hear about it!