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Chicken broth: bones to water ratio?

I'm using my slow cooker to make chicken broth. It's 6 quarts, and I tend it fill it almost all the way up with bones and backs - there's not much room for water. It probably adds up to 3 pints, strained, when all said and done.

Is this an appropriate bones/h2o ratio? Can I add water after the fact, or is that sinful? I suppose as long as the water covers the bones, it's ok, and one might end up with a more concentrated broth, and nothing wrong with that, right?

Thanks, all.

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  1. Maximum bones to water is best. If the result is too strong (although, for stock, I don't think it's possible) there is always water. Concentrated stock, frozen in ice cube trays, is a great ingredient.

    By the way, do you brown the bones in the oven first? It further increases the flavor.

    2 Replies
    1. re: therealdoctorlew

      In my experience, it doesn't matter as long as the solids are kept submerged until they're spent. If the result is too dilute you can simmer it down to whatever level of concentration you desire; too strong, just add water. If you are going to freeze the results, concentrating the broth/stock saves space. Be sure to label it so you don't accidentally put a frozen lump of concentrate into something that needs just a little broth.

      1. re: therealdoctorlew

        I never brown, just cuz I usually don't have the time, but it does add flavor. The one time I did it I noticed a little difference but not that much. But I add a carrot, celery and onions and seasoning in my pot, but add bones about 1/2 way up, the veggies and then the water. Stove or crock, just simmering. Works pretty good. And frozen cubes are great.

      2. I generally want to cover the bones, vegetables, and stuff with just enough water so that I can skim off the top easily without too much stuff getting in the way. Some things will float to the top of course, and it helps if you put the spices in a cheesecloth bag to keep them submerged (tie it to a handle of the pot to remove it at the end, if that's possible).

        Then reduce to make it stronger or add water to make it thinner. You'll almost always want to reduce.

        Brown the bones for a brown stock, or use raw bones for a fresher tasting clear stock. I usually brown beef bones for beef stock, but use raw bones for chicken stock and veal stock.

        3 Replies
        1. re: David A. Goldfarb

          Agree on the browning of beef bones but not chicken - it just doen't add to the flavor. (I roast veal bones as well)

          1. re: David A. Goldfarb

            I agree with this approach -- add just enough water to submerge everything.

            1. re: karykat

              Just to cover everything which is usually what fills my pot.

          2. Just one bone, a carrot, some celery, and an onion and a short boil is better than anything you will find in a can. With that said, the more bones the better.

            1. You didn't mention your typical applications.
              Nowadays I leave out celery and carrot because I'm cooking more Asian dishes, and the flavors of these vegetables doesn't work for me.
              For soup I will supplement or replace chicken parts with turkey parts (readily available here).

              I will try to break the bones to maximize extraction.
              Browned chicken wings are mostly bones and inexpensive in case my stash of carcasses is low.
              Simmer the stock until it fits in your storage containers :-).

              Besides barely simmering and skimming the surface, anyone have a good trick for clarifying the stock?

              1 Reply
              1. re: DiveFan

                To clarify stock--after skimming, straining, reducing, chilling, and removing the fat layer from the cold gelatinous stock, whisk one egg white with the shell per quart into the stock, and then heat to just short of a boil and simmer for about ten minutes, until the egg white, shell, and tiny particles that cloud the stock all rise to the top. If you're making a lot of stock in a tall narrow pot, you can remove some of the egg white layer with a skimmer, but otherwise, just push it to the side to avoid disturbing it too much, and ladle out the crystal clear stock into another vessel through a strainer lined with cheesecloth rinsed in cold water, or through a fine chinois.

              2. I've started doing it another way, with great results. Ground chicken sauteed with onions and carrots. I use chicken fat, but oil is fine.

                Add water (a few litres per Kg of meat.). Simmer for a couple of hours - don't boil. Then I add 3 broken-up chicken feet (Chinese grocery) and simmer it a couple of hours more. Then strain and toss the spent solids. There's seldom anything to skim. If you can't get chicken feet, you can use the backs.

                Then brown some thighs or backs (with skin) lightly. Use as many or few as you want. Put them into the strained stock. I add some sliced carrots, diced parsnip, bay leaf, and dill.

                After about 1/2 hour of gentle simmering, strain out the vegetables and chicken pieces and shred the now perfectly poached meat. The meat and vegetables will be edible.

                Reduce/season to taste. This will give you a solid gel when chilled, but you can concentrate it as far as you want.