Homemade Chicken Broth/Butchering a Chicken

Few things smell as good as chicken broth simmering away on the stove. And few things are so easy! Throw a few carcasses in a pot, add cold water to cover, a pinch of salt and simmer until the bones are soft (about 4 hours). You could add a bay leaf, herbs and a few vegetables if you want; but it’s not essential.

I get the bones from either leftover roasted chicken or from butchering a whole bird. After eating the roasted chicken, I place the leftovers in a plastic bag and put in the freezer until I’m ready to make stock. I do the same with carrot, onion and celery ends too. I like to use a combination of raw and roasted bones for stock. The raw bones will give the stock more body and texture, but the roasted bones will give a deeper flavor.

Breaking down, or butchering a chicken isn’t that hard with practice and a sharp knife. I’m sure there are plenty of sites and cookbooks that have detailed descriptions with pictures of  butchering a chicken. But here, I’ll just briefly describe how I break down a chicken.

1. Run your knife down a honing steel a few times.

2.Take one of the breasts off by cutting alongside the keel bone (the breast bone) and then down the ribs bones. Repeat on the other side.

3.This step is going to sound a little gruesome-sorry.Grab both of the thighs with your hands and bend them back until the hip joint comes out of its socket. Wash your hands and then use your knife to cut between the joints.

Usually buying whole chickens is cheaper than buying the pieces, plus you get the useful bones. After making the stock, I strain and cool it. Then I pour it into ice cube trays and freeze. Once frozen, I pop them out into a bag and store them in the freezer. Each cube is about 2 Tablespoons, easy for measuring or for thawing if you are using a lot.

Homemade stock will make any soup, sauce or stew taste amazingly better than using store bought. The taste and texture is much richer and deeper; plus you can control the sodium level.