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).
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.”
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.