Bone broth is the liquid that results from boiling animal bones. Chicken bone broth is the liquid that comes from boiling chicken bones. Bones? Not meat? Yes, bones. No, not meat. The flavor is in the bones.
I am reminded of an episode of Barefoot Contessa where Ina Garten tells viewers that, after making broth from a whole chicken, the meat is so devoid of flavor that it should be thrown away. That shocked me. So wasteful. Why use a whole chicken to make broth, to start with? It makes more sense to boil just the bones.
At home, I make bone broth in bulk. I simmer bones in a large pot, cool the liquid, pour it into several container containers and freeze them. That way, when I need broth, I don’t need to start from scratch. I need only reach into the freezer for the tastiest bone broth.
Where to score chicken bones
If you’re cooking a dish that requires chicken fillets and you have a whole chicken, after separating the meat from the bones, you can boil those bones with herbs and spices, and you get a tasty chicken bone broth.
Buy heads and necks (they’re the most flavorful parts of the chicken) and use them for making broth. But they’re not always available because most chicken sellers in the market reserve the heads and necks for restaurants. The necks and heads are ordered in advance, I’ve been told.
Use “chicken soup bones.” If you’re a regular grocery shopper, you might have noticed that chicken is packed in several ways — whole, choice cuts, fillets and soup bones. The soup bones are NOT bare bones. They actually have a lot of meat in them. From a one kilo pack that costs about 40% to 60% less than choice cuts, you get enough chicken meat to make a large pot of soup.
Is it necessary to roast the bones beforehand?
No, but there are two advantages. First, roasting the bones adds a deeper flavor to the broth. Second, the broth is free from scum.
To roast chicken bones, place in a rack positioned over a tray to catch the drippings. Roast the bones in a 400F oven for about 30 minutes or just until the surface starts to brown.
The process of making chicken bone broth
You need only two basic ingredients: the chicken bones and water.
You need basic cooking tools: the stove and a pot.
If you have opted to roast the chicken the chicken bones, just drop them into a pot and pour in enough water to cover. Bring to the boil, lower the heat, cover and simmer for at least an hour.
If you did not roast the bones, a little extra work is required. Drop the bones into the pot, cover with water and boil. Scum will start to accumulate on the surface and you have to remove all of it. A slotted spoon or ladle is best for the job. Scum will continue to rise for about ten minutes. Just keep removing them. Otherwise, the broth will look murky.
The longer you simmer and the more the liquid reduces, the more concentrated the flavors. That’s the most basic chicken bone broth. It’s neutral enough to serve as a good base for soups, sauces and gravies.
But little extras and a few tricks can turn good chicken bone broth into truly great chicken bone broth.
Herbs and spices will improve the flavor of chicken bone broth. A few cloves of garlic, a shallot cut in half, peppercorns, a piece of carrot and a stalk of celery will go a long way.
If you have a slow cooker, use it. Nothing draws the flavor of bones better than a slow cooker.
And the best tip I can offer: free range chicken makes the tastiest chicken bone broth.