Wanted: a good broth fitting

9 Oct

Background

Seeing as I’m a garage-sale going, clearance-only-clothes-shopping, and saver of all things kind of girl, it only made sense to make my own chicken broth, too. I’d been saving chicken bones for over a month in preparation for my first great big broth making, which would turn out to be marvelous and clever of me, since the season of my at-least-twice-weekly soup-making would be coming. Crowds would cheer, my popularity would increase, and the grass on our new lawn would be just a little thicker. And the garbage would take itself in and out of the garage. My freezer would be prepared for the onslaught of winter, but most importantly, I would, for the first time, have my own chicken broth, just as the experts have recommended there is no substitute for.

A Crime Was Committed

And now comes the bad news: the sun did not shine on my broth. The clouds were out, it rained, it thundered…well actually, it was just muddy. Like my broth.

I will tell you my process, and perhaps you can tell me where I went wrong. Please tell me. I meant it. Not to be too proud of myself, but cooking has yet to be an obstacle to me–it just makes sense and usually comes out the way I picture it, or I improvise to make it into something else that seems intentional (kind of like stage acting–never making a missed line obvious). I even followed directions on this one–major step for me. Seeing that this was not my prescription, I am especially confused at the results.

How the Crime Was Committed

No recipe this time, but I thought it would be valuable even to admit my mistakes. Plus, a lot of you are brilliant cooks and will know exactly where I went wrong. And will tell me (nicely, of course, since my ego is noticeably damaged).

Pre-roasting. The backbone of the broth is here. But it broke, apparently.

Pre-roasting. The backbone of the broth is here. But it broke, apparently.

1. Roast the following at 325 F for appx. one hour:

~three lb. chicken bones (with some meat on)
three stalks celery
eight baby carrots (yeah, I know, should’ve been more, but I wasn’t quite smart enough to not know I didn’t have enough)
half of one yellow Vidalia onion, cut into large pieces and separated
six whole peppercorns

2. In a large stockpot (um, large…mine is 16 quarts, ridiculous, I know), combine roasted vegetables, chicken bones and 4 1/2 quarts water. Bring to a slow boil. Reduce to low simmer and let flavors combine for 1-2 hours. Taste and add salt if needed.

At this step, I skimmed the fat off the top. I did everything mother Donna Hay told me to in her recipe. With hope in my heart and little birds alighting on my arms (which made coordinating difficult), I dipped my spoon into the broth and prepared myself for a fame and fortune…well, in broth. It tasted like water. Chicken-y water. What the. I added salt. No dice. A little more? No. I wondered if there had been enough time to simmer. I simmered some more. Tasted. Chicken-y water. No movement in flavor at all. I panicked. I did the only kind of pardonable and put in a quart of very cheap generic chicken broth in, let it simmer to combine, and gave up. I strained the broth into containers and looked forward to a better day, when as Sting says, “a day when [chicken-y] problems never got in the way.”

Definitely not clear.

Definitely not clear.

To ladle (haha!) pain upon pain, the broth wasn’t even the clear I know I should’ve gotten. I suspect this had to do with the store-bought broth, but maybe I’m just trying to save myself at this point from more embarrassment. My other thought is that I simply over-estimated the amount of water to add. Quite possible.

So, dear readers, many of you have insight on this topic and have had glory days of broth making. Others of you have gleaned knowledge from our favorite search engines and people who know more stuff than I do, which would be just about everyone. What can you tell me about what I did wrong?

If no steps seem blatantly awful, does anyone out there have a suggested pattern I can follow to broth salvation? If I conquer the next batch, I would like to move on to a vegetable broth; however, at this point, I fear for the future of all broths made by me.

Lastly, I give this plea: “Will you still love me [for the rest of my blog]? Cause I can’t go on. I can’t go on. I can’t go on…if my broth’s like this.” Thank you, Chicago. I should get some points for using two musical references with lyrics in this post.

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6 Responses to “Wanted: a good broth fitting”

  1. REbekka October 10, 2008 at 10:14 am #

    Mmm…homemade chicken broth, so delicious. I guess my only advice is…I’ve never roasted anything before making chicken broth…I a whole chicken, and the celery, and the carrots and everything raw. Mine always comes out really clear. Then I take all the meat off the carcass and use it in chicken salad, enchiladas, etc. I love your blog, by the way, I just found it. The mac and cheese with sage below? MUST try this weekend! Amazing!

  2. REbekka October 10, 2008 at 10:15 am #

    Meant to say, “I BOIL a whole chicken…”

  3. Alison October 20, 2008 at 11:27 am #

    Welcome back and thank you! I found that pony and made him my own, then I named him Sprinkles. He is a line drawing I found online. Then I drew him large on a piece of felt, cut him out and nailed his pony behind to the wall. I use him on my header and plan on using him as a logo in the future. But felt forest animals would be fabulous too. I’m always on the lookout for art, have you checked etsy a ton?

  4. Angie November 1, 2008 at 3:44 pm #

    I’m not so sure about the clear versus cloudy but I would recommend you simmer the mix several hours longer until the bones are softer. Mine usually simmers overnight. I also add a bay leaf just because my mom does it that way. 😀

  5. stella November 5, 2008 at 7:24 am #

    You might have too much water and not enough food. Maybe go with much more carrot, more peppercorns, more chicken (4 lbs) and only 2 quarts of water. How about adding some fresh herbs? A couple cloves of garlic?

    Then again, I don’t usually stray too far from a recipe, so I might not be your best advisor.

    As for the cloudiness? I have no idea. I agree with Angie (above) about the cooking time.

    I love your blog! ‘Tis very fun!

    ~Stella

  6. Angelmaria November 8, 2008 at 7:38 am #

    I think, one of the problems might be in the temp of your pot win making your broth, don’t boil it ever let it get to a simmer and then let it simmer at a low heat for at least 3/4 hrs and one other thing, careful when making broth from leftover items in the fridge/freezer some items are not sutible for making a clear broth although tasty and still good would work better in a cream broth…yanno I think sometimes startch and some milk products from leftover veggies and meats that we may have forgotten about when re-using in broth.
    Just my lil 2-cents (*_*) keep up the Good work!

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