Wednesday, 16 November 2011

A Stock Pot in Every Kitchen

by Throwback at Trapper Creek

I've blogged about making bone broth and stock before but it bears repeating. If you're not making stock already with bones from the meat you're cooking, Thanksgiving is just around the corner and lots of turkey carcasses will be gracing our tables and can be put to good use instead of being tossed.

I make stock every week because:

1) Of the health benefits.

2) It makes food taste better.

3) I don't like to waste anything.

This is what's left of one of our home raised chickens by the time I get done with it.

That handful of bone pieces is about the size of the chick when it arrives at the farmstead.

Rather than thinking of just filling the freezer for our needs, we concentrate on intensively pasturing our poultry after the brooding stage. By doing this, we are fertilizing our pasture at the same time we are growing our meat chickens.

Providing fresh pasture daily helps grow a healthy bird, and ensures a healthy nutrition profile for the meat and broth.

To make sure I use the broth in my cooking, I like to have it on hand, either in the refrigerator or in the stockpot that seems to be always simmering on the back of the stove. We consume roughly one chicken per week. We raise them ourselves, but they are still an expensive item for the pantry. To stretch those dollars, I squeeze the most out of each bird.

One chicken per week feeds our family of three plus two dogs in the following ways:

1) One breast butterflied and sauteed for my husbands lunches.

2) One breast cubed for fajitas.

3) Breastless carcass wet roasted in 3 - 4 quarts of water to yield 3 - 4 quarts of semi-gelatinous broth, and cooked chicken. (I roast my chicken in a covered roaster at about 400 degrees Fahrenheit for about 4 hours.)

4) Remaining cooked meat makes at least 2 more meals of chicken salad, enchiladas or whatever you wish to use cooked chicken for.

5) After all that I take the carcass and make at least two more quarts of stock, since the bird has been roasted already, this stock needs no skimming and stays clear. I cook this for 12 - 24 hours with a glug of vinegar to help release the minerals and gelatin in the bones and gristle. Note: since the dogs will be getting the spoils I do not add onions to the stock. If you're not feeding dogs, onions are a good addition, as well as any other vegetable odds and ends in your kitchen. Carrot ends, celery trimmings etc.

6) Strain the stock for the kitchen and break down the skins and bones for the pups. Most bones will be soft enough for dogs, except the weight bearing bones of the bird. On these I squeeze the bone and marrow until I get to the hard part of the bone. Feeding cooked bones to dogs is not a good idea unless the bones are soft. They are very sharp (unlike uncooked bones) and may potentially puncture your dogs digestive tract. I personally inspect each bone and piece of chicken before my dogs get any of it. This go round yields about two quarts of chicken skin, leftover bits of meat and soft bones for the dogs. They love it!

What hasn't softened in the cooking process goes into our woodstove and is cooked into ash that goes to the garden. I suppose if you were so inclined you could pressure cook the hard bones and make them entirely soft, however for me, it's just one more step that isn't needed. My garden can always use some ash, and it is an amendment that I don't need to buy if I can make my own.

For more reading on the health benefits of bone broths and stock check out the Weston Price organization here:

The interconnectedness of farm and kitchen is an amazing and satisfying feeling. Stock warms your belly and your heart.


Chris said...

So, Nita, why do you cook the breast meat separately from the rest of the bird? Why not roast the whole thing at once? It seems unlike you to add another step unnecessarily, so I'm sure you have a good reason...

Jaenne' said...

My dogs are fed a raw should not feed cooked bones to your dogs...

TeresaNoelleRoberts said...

How do you "wet roast"? I'm not familiar with that term, and I'm a pretty experienced cook.

Throwback at Trapper Creek said...

Chris, it just tastes better and has a better texture. If the food that reaches the table or lunchbox puts a glum face on the recipient, then saving a step doesn't work. A piece of white chicken meat quickly cooked tastes very good and different from the roasted form. But like pizza, it's a subjective subject :)

Jaenne, my dogs eat about half and half, and I wouldn't give them any bones that aren't mush. Raw food vs cooked food for pets is about as controversial as appropriate diet for humans.

Teresa, I called it "wet roast" to avoid confusion from just the normal roasting. I want a lot of broth, and not by boiling the chicken on the stove top. Kind of a modified Maillard reaction :)

mb said...

nice point about the size of the chicks. i keep a container in the door of my freezer where i deposit my carrot and onion ends, stems of any herbs, celery etc, and then when making stock, empty that grab bag in for seasoning. i like to pressure can my stock so i can grab one and empty it into whatever i'm making, rather than taking up freezer space and having to remember to thaw it out...

Throwback at Trapper Creek said...

mb, mine never makes it that far, it keeps a week in the fridge and I use a lot of broth. If I get a surplus, I do can it though.

Good tips!

dixiebelle said...

Great post, thank you!

jengod said...

What a lovely post about the complete cycle of chickenhood in your kitchen and garden!

Anonymous said...

my sister's a vet and has always drilled into me, NO cooked bones for animals! she has seen some ugly things happen sadly :(

joolzmac said...

That is amazing that you can use so much of that chicken and even then the bones are burned to ash. Very interesting post, thank you.


Zephyr Hill said...

I, too, loved the completeness of the cycle of your chickens' lives.

I also appreciate the "wet roast" idea which I will try today with the two (small) chickens I'm thawing in our fridge. We're down to the last ones of our Naked Necks, and of course they're the little ones. I'm challenged to see how many meals I can get from them, including broth!

Eliza J said...

That is truly the most "complete" cycle I have ever seen ~ thank you. We all need reminders at times to use it and not waste it. Thank you also for the "wet roast" information. My roaster is in the oven as I write and the house smells awesome. I will re-roast the bones tomorrow. I grew up with broth cooked on the stove with chicken or beef's sad how convenience has interfered with good healthy food. Wet roasting is new...can't wait to see the result ~ THANKS

Throwback at Trapper Creek said...

Dixiebelle, Thanks!

jengod, thanks to you too!

Anon, I know it is a controversial subject. My neighbor is a vet and she is horrified by how many sick and dead dogs she sees that are on a raw diet (even with "organic" meats) and doesn't allow her dog any raw food whatsoever. Each person has to make the choice on how to feed and live with the consequences.

Joolz, thanks - it sure helps defray the cost of raising them :)

ZephyrHill, the wet roasting works really well with the dark meat, even at the high temp in the oven it's not the same as boiling on the stove. I like it, and the resulting meat and broth.

Eliza J, thank you. I agree, I was at the grocery store the other day and priced the meal I was preparing...a simple vegetable beef stew. The prices were very high, and especially the broth. My simple farm kitchen meal would be very expensive to recreate from the store. I like the idea of getting the most out of our hard work :)