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Homemade Chicken Stock

I started mastering homemade chicken stock because good stock is the key foundation of good soup. I have made gallons of it and I think I have it down! I have a gargantuan stock pot, so when I make it we are swimming in the golden broth for over a week. I used to make it at least once every week and sometimes two. I maxed out at three times one week! After a broth break, I am now coming back to it! Homemade Chicken Stock~ 1 whole roasted chicken. I buy the *Natural Organic* whole chicken. I tried the free range organic chick from Trader Joe's but wasn't impressed, especially for the price. The birds I get are between 4 1/2 and 5 lbs. One day I will either find a source for happy farm chickens or muster the courage to process our own. Until then I am quite happy buying from Costco. Wash the bird inside and out with cool water. Put in a glass pyrex dish and brush with olive oil mixed with salt, pepper, granulated garlic and basil. Cut a washed lemon and put in the cavity. Put in a 325-375 oven depending on the size and roast for 1 1/2-2hours. When done, allow to rest for at least 20 minutes. I take almost all of the meat and skin off and we have dinner. Yum! Take all bones and chicken frame, and additional raw leg/thigh pieces (I usually use 3, but now with my larger pot I use 6) and cover with water in a large pot. I use filtered water and fill the whole pot to an inch below the top. Pour 2-4 Tbl. of organic raw Apple Cider Vinegar with the mothers. I use Bragg's (is there any other brand??) Let the bones soak in the cold vinegar water while you prep the veggies. Cut the top off of a whole head of garlic, cut 2-3 onions in half, 5 or so good sized carrots, 3 celery ribs and 1 or more large parsnips. (My last batch I was low on onions so I put in a few shallots.) I peel the carrots because I don't like the flavor of the peel. Slice about an inch off of some ginger root, a good thick slice of lemon, peel and all, 2-3 bay leaves and into the pot they go. A few good grinds of some cracked peppercorns and some shakes of dried basil gives it great flavor. My sister in law uses fresh dill and it is amazing. Sometimes I put in a sprig of fresh rosemary. About an hour before it's done, throw in a small bunch of parsley and I have also used cilantro. Turn heat on medium low and let it come to a slow boil. No rush here. Skim foam as it rises to remove impurities. I usually simmer for 8 hours, but with my larger pot I think I need to go longer. For smaller batches, the crockpot is great! The goal is to get your broth to gel after you refrigerate it over night. The vinegar soak helps to extract the calcium and marrow out of the bones to help this process. When done, I discard all of the veggies and bones, pick the meat off of the legs/thighs (sometimes I use it, but honestly there is no flavor left and the texture is pretty blech, so I give it to the animals for a treat), and strain the stock into another pot. You can double strain and use cheesecloth, but I like to leave some bits in mine, so one strain is enough for me. Refrigerate and there will be a layer of fat on the top that you can easily remove if you want. I choose to leave mine on. This broth is full of good for you things that are easily absorbed in the body and the natural gelatin is healing to the intestines. This is a very forgiving recipe but I managed to mess it up the first couple of times. (Don't put the cilantro, if using, in too early...) I use it, undiluted and salted to taste, as a base for soups and I drink the broth plain. It is so much better and healthier than boxed broth. You are totally in charge of the ingredients and when you are done you feel like the ultimate homemaker! Do you make chicken stock? Any secret ingredients you would like to share?

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