Chicken Broth: Buy It vs. Make It
I was listening to a group of gourmet friends discussing how they make their chicken broth, each one praising her own version to the skies.
“What’s the point?” another friend asked. “You can buy boxes of broth.”
“What’s the point?” someone else echoed. “You can buy sweaters, too.” She poked at our friend’s lushly detailed hand-knitted cardigan. Point taken.
I’ve been on a roast-chicken kick lately anyway, since I finally tried the Mark Bittman method—roasting it upside-down in a preheated cast-iron pan—that has revolutionized my life not just because it’s tasty, but because it only takes about an hour. If I’ve borked my dinner deadline I can still make it in under the wire. (Story of my life.)
So I followed my friends’ instructions, saved up a bunch of carcasses and gizzards, asked the butcher at my local grocery store for his extra necks and backs (prompting these two questions: why are butchers weirdly, Dexter-ly hot, in their blood-stained aprons, and is there anything grosser to ask for than “extra necks and backs?”), and threw the whole thing in a stockpot, where I let it simmer while doing other stuff around the house all afternoon, adding water when it got below carcass-level.
How’d I do?
No doubt about it, this is a cheap option, if you don’t count the hours you have to be near the kitchen. (I don’t. I still have to hang out for a toddler’s afternoon nap.) The organic free-range chicken broth I get (I like Swanson-brand chicken broth) is 10 cents an ounce, around $3.50 a quart, and considering I was going to throw out the carcasses anyway and the odds-and-sods from the hot butcher are under $3 for a huge takeaway container, you can’t complain about the price. On the other hand, a tablespoon of Better Than Bullion runs around 60 cents, and that’s plenty if I’m just adding broth to another dish.
This is kind of a pain in the butt. There’s the storing, then re-roasting the carcasses and gizzards (a step you can certainly skip, but it provides a ton of flavor), then simmering for hours, then straining, then letting it cool enough to pour into the freezer bags. A perfectly fine rainy-day activity, but not something I want to devote a regular weekly day to.
Freaking fantastic. But this is a minus, too, because right now I’ve got a bunch of quart-size bags stacked in the freezer, and I refuse to use them for anything that doesn’t deserve them. You know, the way you won’t waste the good scotch on a mixed drink? So honestly, as a mom, I would do this once in a while, but still buy the boxes and the bullion. This stuff gets saved for soup and anything that requires a really superior base, like risotto. Everything else is just fine with the bought stuff.
Use your homemade chicken broth in some of these recipes:
Ready to move on from chicken broth to chicken stock? Try this chicken stock recipe.