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Your best chicken broth secrets

  • t

It's that time of year again when I serve a lot of my favorite winter comfort food: whole roast chicken.

I usually make a broth with the carcass and any bones left over, throwing in whatever savory veggies I've got. Cook it on the stovetop for about 2-3 hours, and chill and skim for later use.

I almost always use a Foster Farms whole fryer, and use thyme, rosemary, bay leaf and garlic and onion, sometimes carrot and celery, and S&P to flavor it. I often remove all the solids and simmer it down to concentrate the flavors.

Sometimes it's wonderful and sometimes it's flat.

Anybody have any tricks for a rich, flavorful broth EVERY time? Much obliged!

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  1. I like to put in a piece of ginger...usually about an inch or so.

    1. For me it's always putting an extra breast carcass with breast meat. I like adding a few pieces of ginger, it adds a touch of sweetness to the soup.

      1. I always start it in cool water and let it heat up with the carcass/whole chicken in there.

        1. I like a drop of dark, toasted, sesame oil. Not enough to be in your face, sesame but just a tiny bit to add depth and richness.

          1. I have been using whole raw chickens, not just the carcass.

            1. Add a piece of dried kombu to your stock to add umami. As it reconstitutes, umami will fill the stock.

              1. Here is our main serect ingredient (only if you have a Aisan market close by) chicken feet. They are flavor, texture and richness to the broth. I normally trim the nail and if I have time I crack the bone. Cook the full time you have the chicken/part and remove before serving.

                Chowfun will tell you this is also the Jewish serect too.

                Ginger as already posted and a little Kosher salt for favor.

                1. You need raw meat in addition to the bones; chicken wings (and feet, if at all possible -- get them at Asian markets), backs and necks are the most important parts. And I would start with a cold, low sodium broth (Swanson organic in the box) rather than water to get richer flavor.

                  Common mistakes include too much carrot: makes it way too sweet.

                  Reduce by about a third after making to intensify flavor.

                  1. When I have time, I like to roast the bones and veggies first before throwing them into the water. You get a darker broth that way.

                    1. Ok!
                      start with broth not water
                      not too many carrots
                      add some raw parts-necks, backs, feet
                      (we have a local market run by Chinese butchers- they have chicken feet!)
                      nub of raw ginger
                      kombu--sheet or dashi?
                      I added some shitaki after posting the first time--it has helped.
                      Wow! thanks, hounds! you're great!

                      1. I like to let my finished broth/stock completely cool before separating the strained liquid from the bones and vegetables. I've found the resulting broth to be clearer, and most probably fuller flavored. I say "most probably", because even if I were to strain the soup immediately, a homemade broth/stock is full flavored too.
                        For all I know someone on this thread has suggested the same thing---I haven't read the others yet. Hope I wasn't redundant.
                        Jeff

                        1. Use any part of the chicken you can find. I use plenty of dill, parsley, leek, turnips and parsnip cut up (besides the celery/onion/carrots)

                          1. I've spent countless hours and chicken parts trying to get consistently super broth but never quite got there. A couple of months ago I stopped at my favorite pho ga restaurant, Turtle Towers in SF, for a bowl of chicken and noodles in the broth that has been my gold standard for years. A light went on, I asked the owner if it would be possible to buy just the stock for take out. She said sure, it's $2.00 a quart. I can't come close to that broth in either quality or cost of ingredients. So my secret, for those of you who live in the Bay Area, is pick up a couple of quarts of broth at one of the two Turtle Towers once a month, freeze it in 2 cup containers and use it as needed.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: TomG

                              Great idea - and low cost. I'll look for something similar in Austin.

                              1. re: TomG

                                My favorite is Neiman Marcus. I love that stuff, and you can get the recipe online.

                                http://www.recipelink.com/ch/2003/nov...

                                OMG! I love this with their monkey bread and strawberry butter!

                              2. Raw backs and necks are good suggestions, and the feet are too. The one secret someone told me about for that downhome Chinese flavor - and for non-Kosher applications only! - is a nice big square of skin and fat trimmed from a pork leg set in the bottom of the pot before anything else goes in.

                                As for consistency, well, I've been doing this for about thirty years, and while it's always good it's not predictably wonderful. Maybe I'm just not sufficiently obsessed...

                                1. Easiest way to make chicken broth is: 1) Put 4 leg-thigh combinations in large crock-put. 2) Add a chopped onion and a couple of stalks of celery, plus salt. 3) Fill pot to within an inch of top, never mind directions. 4) Put on cover. 5) Cook all night on LOW. 6) Next morning pour all through colander into mixing bowl. 7) Transfer into Mason jars, cover, and refrigerate. 8) Remove fat. (Or, if you don't care about the fat, skip steps 7 and 8). This method adds up to about five minutes total of work. Makes about 2 quarts of stock. Caution, if you don't like the flavor of giblets, wash the thighs under running cold water and remove the bits of kidney that are usually attached.

                                  1. i collect the carcasses from my roast chickens as well as any other bones from chicken legs, wings, etc., that we eat. i keep them in the freezer till i think i have enough. i also crack the bones to get the most flavor out of them.

                                    same vegetables as most people mention, but i also use a parsnip because it adds nice flavor. bay leaf and a big bunch of parsley are good too. ginger if i'm looking for an asian flavor, and sometimes some white wine.

                                    1. Save necks and wing tips from your chickens in a Ziplock bag in the freezer. I'm not sure whether you are making broth for a soup to eat right away, or stock for more general kitchen use. If the latter, I would say use more raw meat/bones, steer clear of strong flavors at this point, and cook for a LONG time.

                                      Last week I spent a rainy day making a couple of gallons of stock with my bag of necks and wings and various other chicken parts I had collected. I cooked it on the stove for 5 or 6 hours (with a bit of onion, carrot, dried thyme and a couple of bay leaves), then strained it into a big pot. After cooling it and refrigerating overnight, I skimmed off the solidified fat on the top and was left with a lovely quivering vat of stock--the best I have made (I am usually too impatient to cook for so long). Now I have quarts, 1/2 c "muffins" and 2 T "ice cubes" ready to roll in the freezer.

                                      1. The secret ingredient is the parsnip. It adds a rich sweetness to the broth. I use a pound of parsnips per chicken. My broth tends to be very simple:

                                        1 head of garlic
                                        1 chicken
                                        1 onion
                                        lots of ground pepper
                                        1 lb parsnips
                                        1 lb carrots
                                        Parsley or cilantro

                                        People add salt at the table to taste. We pull the chicken out after about 2 hours and strip most of the meat from the carcass, putting the meat back in.

                                        1. I love to have chicken stock sitting in the freezer ready for a variety of meals so I tend to make a flavourful stock with just a smidge of salt and then adjust seasonings accordingly with what I'm making ~ risotto, chicken pot pie, Thai green curry, hot and sour soup, etc.

                                          My basic chicken stock starts with between four and five pounds of rinsed backs and necks which I divide between a couple of stockpots. I add cold water and put them over low heat. As the water warms up and comes to a boil I skim off everything that floats to the surface. I also stir the pots as well since some of the scum is trapped down below. Once it comes to a soft rolling boil I add per stockpot: one large or two small yellow onions which are new and have a nice golden skin that adds a bit to the colour. I cut the root end off and quarter the onion with the skin on. Then I add a big carrot, three or four stalks of celery. For seasonings I like to add: sage, thyme and marjoram but not a lot as this is going to cook for awhile. I love fresh herbs but in this instance I find the dry [but new] herbs seem to give a better flavour. I also add a bay leaf, some peppercorns and a pinch of Kosher salt. I keep this on a very low boil and let it go for three or four hours. Turn off and once it has cooled a little I strain it once for the big bits and then a second time through a damp clean dish cloth. At this point I will taste the stock [a bulb baster will get a nice sample away from the fat] and if necessary I will reduce it a bit more. I tend to leave the layer of fat in the portioned containers because I think it provides a barrier for the soup and sometimes I like to use the chicken fat in matzo balls. Alternatively, if I don't want any fat, I scrap it off the top before using it.

                                          Hmmm....that is all I can think of at the moment. I just made a batch on the weekend so it is fresh on my mind. Tonight I'm going to try and track down a decent Hot and Sour soup recipe....

                                          I hope that helps...but of course, it is just my opinion about how I make chicken stock.

                                          1. crock pot!

                                            the last time i made chicken stock i used my crockpot and cooked it for an entire day and night. it is the best stock i have ever made; rich and flavorful... i use the carcasses from roasted chickens along with any good veggie trimmings i have hanging around. i love the idea of a knob of ginger, and will try that next time.
                                            great question!

                                            1. Some other ideas...

                                              Start with cold water. Add a splash of vinegar along with the bones, it helps extract the gelatin from the bones. Boil bones for a long time (6+ hours) to fully extract all gelatin, which is the "secret" ingredient that makes a stock so good. I usually set it up and let is simmer overnight. Personally, I don't like the flavors that develop when the vegetables are boiled for a very long time. So I usually just boil the bones alone, then when those are done, strain, then add all the vegetables, spices, and herbs, and boil for only about 30 minutes. The stock just tastes fresher that way.

                                              -nick

                                              1. Make sure your onions are yellow onions, not white or red. And use the onion skins too, all chopped and crunkled up. I leave out the salt until the very end, if even then, as salt can be added later when you actually use it for something. Crunch the bones mercilessly beforehand, and cook for a really long time.

                                                1. The very best broth I have ever tasted included roasted beef marrow bones. First you drizzle olive oil over beef marrow bones and veggies (potato, turnip, carrot, onion,celery etc. whatever you have). Roast at a very high heat (450) until aromatic. (maybe an hour or so). Then put everything from the roasting pan into a stock pot together with a whole cut up chicken. Cover with water and cook for several hours with the addition of some salt to taste. I will never make a better broth than this.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: kjdodd

                                                    not sure why you resurrected an 8-year old thread for this? ;)

                                                    i agree marrow bones are great in stocks and broth, but not everybody wants to mix beef into their chicken.