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I recently roasted a whole free-range chicken, and this time I did something I had never done before – I saved the carcass and used it to make my own homemade chicken broth. It was actually really easy to make and much cheaper than buying store-bought broth. I also really liked the fact that I was able to use the entire chicken without wasting any of it and that I didn’t have to worry about my broth having any unnatural ingredients like MSG or other artificial flavors in it either.
The recipe I used was from a book called The American Frugal Housewife. It was written by Mrs. Lydia Marie Child and was a popular guidebook for 19th-century homemakers. The book had several different editions, but the one my recipe came from was the 12th edition published in Boston in 1833.
This old-fashioned homemade chicken broth recipe is full of flavor and nutrition. Now that I’ve tried making my own broth, I can’t believe I ever used to just throw the chicken carcass away!
This is the original version of the recipe as printed in Mrs. Child’s book:
“Cut a chicken in quarters; put it into three or four quarts of water; put in a cup of rice while the water is cold; season it with pepper and salt; some use nutmeg. Let it stew gently, until the chicken falls apart. A little parsley, shred fine, is an improvement. Some slice up a small onion and stew with it. A few pieces of cracker may be thrown in if you like.”
Homemade Chicken Broth Recipe from 1833
This is the version of the recipe that I used. Since Mrs. Child’s recipe doesn’t specify any amounts for the herbs and spices, you can adjust the amounts as you like. This recipe includes nutmeg, which was a common 19th century flavoring. I wasn’t sure at first how the nutmeg would be with the chicken, but the flavors actually pair really nicely together, and the nutmeg is very subtle and adds just a hint of spice.
You can add a few crumbled-up crackers or breadcrumbs like the recipe suggests, or some rice as a thickening agent. Or if you prefer a grain-free broth, you can just let the broth simmer for a bit longer to thicken.
This is completely optional (and it takes a little getting used to at first), but another great way to make a nice thick, rich broth is to add chicken feet to the stock pot along with the chicken carcass. The little farm where I buy my pasture-raised eggs sells chicken feet from their meat chickens, so I get some to add to my broth whenever I stop by there. The chicken feet add a lot of extra gelatin and minerals to the broth, and whenever I use them, my broth actually thickens like jello when it’s in the fridge.
If you don’t have a good source of chicken feet from healthy chickens, though, (or if the idea of having chicken feet floating in your broth is just too weird), the broth will still turn out perfectly fine without them.
- 1 chicken carcass cut into quarters (mine was from a 5 lb. chicken)
- 3 quarts (12 cups) water
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1 1/2 tsp salt (I like real salt)
- 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- 2 tsp parsley chopped fine
- onion slices (I used about 1/2 of an onion)
- 1 cup rice or crumbled-up crackers or breadcrumbs (optional)
I usually simmer mine for about 8-10 hours or so, but you can let it go for even longer depending on how much time you have, or if you’re running short on time, you can let it simmer for less. Even if you only have a couple of hours, you’ll still end up with a good homemade broth.
Once the broth has finished simmering, strain it through a colander into a large bowl, and then it’s ready to use for soup or homemade gravy, or any other recipes that call for broth. I like to divide my broth into smaller freezer-safe containers so I can just take a little out of the freezer whenever I want to use some for soup or chicken pot pie or something like that. I also like to put some of the broth in 8 ounce Mason jars so that I have some broth that is already pre-measured and I can easily take out a cup to use in a recipe when needed.
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The information in this post is not to be taken as medical advice and is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease.