Backyard Chicken Broth . . . No, the broth is not made in a pot in the backyard. The chicken used to make the broth, however, was raised there. Yep, those chickens that we slaughtered on Saturday, that had been lined up in the refrigerator like little, um, chickens all in a row have now come out of their state of rigor and are ready to be frozen or eaten.
On slaughter day, as John was rinsing an already processed chicken with the hose, he said that he was playing a sappy movie-like montage of the chickens' lives through his mind: we order them online and eagerly await their arrival . . . they come in a tiny little box to our local post office, chirping away . . . we care for them diligently in the garage as they are too small and frail to live outside, Girl 2 handling them with such care . . . they grow big enough to move into the big tractor in the yard and are absolutely giddy with their fresh grass . . . they grow big enough that we can tell hens from roosters . . . the roosters begin stealing from us our precious hours of sleep as they crow at all hours . . . those roosters are skinned and disemboweled and being cleaned off by the garden hose.
That montage cannot be complete, though, until those chickens have made their way to our bellies. So, I was very excited to finally have our backyard chicken make its way to the kitchen today.
I began by making a big pot of broth. You know, its broth, so precise measurements are not really necessary. A good cook will probably tell you that he/she just throws in a little of this and a little of that. I, however, grow uncomfortable at the thought of cooking without precise measurements and would just about keel over without at least an ingredient list. So for those of you who like a more concrete approach, here's what I threw into the stock pot:
the chicken, of course
carrots, in 2" pieces
celery, in 2" pieces
a bay leaf
Then, I added water until the chicken was covered. On the stove, simmer covered for an hour, skimming off any foam. Then. remove the chicken, allow to cool enough to handle, pick the chicken clean of meat and toss the bones back into the broth. Cook on low (Crock Pot could be handy here) for another 1-3 hours. Strain broth through colander and/or cheesecloth. Store in the refrigerator for a week or so or freeze in baggies or process in mason jars for later use.
I immediately threw 6 c. of broth into the Crock Pot to make Spicy Black Bean Soup for tonight. I know that seems a bit out of season, but we love it. And, I thought that a soup would be a good test of how well the broth had turned out, as broth is kind of the main event in a soup.
The meat I picked off the bones today will go into tomorrow night's dinner, Southwest Chopped Chicken Salad. (I could've sworn I'd already posted about this salad, but I can't seem to find it, so it'll probably be tomorrow's post. Be sure to check back, it's a great salad! Unless, of course, I did already post it and you read about it then. If that's the case, please send me a link. :)