Broth for dummies

You know what I love about being sick? Nothing!

The particularly irritating thing about my current cold is that I can't taste anything. However, I did make some chicken broth. Actually, I've been making chicken broth for a long time, I just didn't realize it.

I learned from Chickenman that the best way to cook pastured chicken -- which can be a lot tougher than the cornfed, caged chicken to which the American palate has grown accustomed -- is to put it in a crockpot with an onion. No water -- just an onion. The chicken will make its own juice. Yeah, I was skeptical too. Cook it on low for about 7 hours and voilá! A deliciously tender chicken. Use leftovers for yummy sandwiches.

It hadn't occured to me that the "juice" from the chicken was actually perfectly good broth that I was wasting. I thought you had to make it exactly the way Man of La Muncha says. I was guiltily buying packages of so-called "free range" chicken broth from Whole Foods, knowing that it probably wasn't anything close to what "free range" is supposed to mean. Picture chickens packed in a shed, with a lone window that they never use and you'll have the USDAs definition of free-range. And here was some actual free-range broth which I had been throwing out for six months.

My mother says that our family has "gaps" in reason. I'm sure it's a universal thing, but this one shamed me with its wastefulness. But I shouldn't be so hard on myself -- this Ethicurean business has a giant learning curve. It's way harder than college. Book-learnin' is a cinch, but figuring out how to cut up a whole chicken or make your own bread? Now that's a challenge.

So I strained the broth with cheesecloth, and put it away for later use. As luck would have it, I got sick the next day, with homemade chicken and broth just languishing in my fridge, ready to make me well.

I sauteed some onions and garlic in butter, then some carrots and slices from a broccoli stem I had in the fridge. The broth had conveniently separated overnight in the fridge, so I took off the fat block and threw it out. Dammit! I probably could have used that fat for something too! Next time, chickenfat, next time.

I added 2 cups of water to the 2 cups of broth I had on hand, and brought it up to a boil.
Salt and pepper, then some simmering. After it had simmered for about 20 minutes, I added the chicken and simmered for about ten more minutes. Then I threw in about a cup of somewhat fresh (as in limp, but not slimy) cilantro which I had been worried about not using. I ate it, and it was good.

I was still sick though. Turned into a sinus infection. Wish I could tell you how yummy the cauliflower curry soup I made was, and the grassfed beef meatloaf with fresh dill and onions, along with the caramelized turnips and sauteed turnip greens. I heard it was very tasty.

It's odd. In the past, I found not being able to taste my food to be boring and annoying, but I didn't feel despondent about it. I guess that's because it didn't seem a terrible thing to miss out on the salty wateriness of a can of Progresso soup, perhaps with some HFCS-laced saltine crackers. Now that I'm missing out on things like roasted beets and squash, cooked with fresh herbs, it's quite a different story.

5 Responsesto “Broth for dummies”

  1. Great sounding recipe for slow-cooked chicken.
    About having skimmed off the fat, you should have heated it back into the broth, as there is a school of thought that it's the chicken's FAT that holds the healing power of chicken soup. (If I had a link off hand to back this up, I would provide it, but, alas, I don't.)
    As well, if you find yourself "not tasting" things when you're sick, that generally means that your nose is clogged up. For that I use the juice of one whole lemon and fresh horseradish grated into the lemon juice. Add a little garlic for a kick and use an eye dropper to administer it several times a day. It will clean your head out like nothing else. Before you know it, you'll be tasting food again.

  2. Omniwhore says:

    Kevin,

    You mean -- you put it up your nose? Lemon juice and horse radish? Yowza!

    I squirted some salt water and baking soda in my nose with an ear syringe. It helped a little.

    I did mix in about two tablespoons of the chicken fat (in the broth, not up my nose), but I think any more than that would have made it a little too fatty. I'll try and investigate that claim about chicken fat and its healing properties.

  3. elliebelly says:

    It is the chicken fat, specifically the palmitoleic acid, which is antimicrobial. Chicken fat contains 6 -8%, turkey 6%, duck 4% and goose 3%. According to Mary Enig PhD "Know Your Fats"

  4. leavesofjoy says:

    I love the idea of the slow-cooked chicken, what a great easy way to have cooked chicken around to make other things with all week.

    Do you cut it up before putting it in the crockpot, or just plop the whole bird in?

    Thanks, I so enjoy your blog!

  5. Omniwhore says:

    Hi LOJ --

    I just plop the whole chicken in there, although once when it was too big for my 5-lb slowcooker I cut it up -- it comes out fine either way. Slow-cooked chicken doesn't have that Betty Crocker golden, crispy skin, but I've actually come to prefer it over roasted chicken. It's much more moist and the broth is also a plus.

    Try it, you'll love it! Sometimes I put some fresh herbs in there -- the best one was loads of fresh dill -- with a little lemon. Have fun and experiment! Let me know if you come up with any interesting combos.

    Thanks EB, for the scientific support!  Next time I shall eat the fat.