The Difference Between My Broth and My Stock
There are two kinds of homemade chicken soup. One is made out of duty, the other, dedication.
There is the waste-not, want-not chicken stock.
Into the pot goes spent chicken carcasses and vegetable bits collected as part of the weekly clean-out-the-fridge-before-heading-to-the-market undertaking. Just another household chore, this stock simmers on the stove as the laundry gets sorted and the vacuuming gets done. The end product is a couple quarts of utilitarian liquid that can help foster a sense of sustainable eating habits while it flavors soups, sauces, and cooked grains as the week progresses. And then there is the make-love, not-war chicken broth.
The raw bones of a local pastured chicken with more than a bit of raw meat left on and maybe even a couple of feet are purposefully purchased. They get roasted slowly, separately from a properly proportioned mirepoix mix of two parts chopped sweet onion to one part each carrots and celery. There might be a sweet parsnip in the mix. Pans are deglazed to draw out flavorful fond. Herbs are bundled. Scum is skimmed. Fat is removed. Clarification is carried out. Reduction happens.
And the result is the really good stuff: a glorious golden broth. This stuff is event worthy, whether the occasion is a fancy dinner party where steaming bowls of it play host to homemade tortellini or a kid with a bad head cold who simply needs a mug of liquid love before the decongestant kicks in.
I make the former year round. But it’s only when I’m holed up in winter hibernation mode that I can dedicate myself to the latter. Each time I do I am granted a peace in that moment that leaves me asking – every single time – why I don’t do this more often?
What follows is not a recipe. It’s a meditation on the soothing things in life.
1. Roast all but the breast meat of a small chicken on a pan in a hot oven.
2. Transfer the results to a large pot filled with cold water.
3. Replenish the roasting pan with a mix of onion and celery, carrots and parsnips.
4. As the broth simmers, the vegetables caramelize. The two meet in the pot.
5. Skim the foam from the top of the liquid. Dip into it to deglaze the bottom of the roasting pan for deeper flavor for the broth.
6. Wrap parsley stems, thyme sprigs, and bay leaves in twine and nestle the bundle into the broth.
7. Keep the heat such that the broth bubbles only once or twice a minute as it cooks for hours.
8. Strain. Cool. Save the solid fat for biscuits.
9. Reduce by half.
10. Season. Sip. Savor.