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A Bird in the Oven and Then Some
by Mindy Fox
There's no match—in quality or flavor—for homemade broth. It's peerless for making soups, risottos, and more; the perfect tonic when you're feeling under the weather; or a satisfying midday snack, sipped from a mug on a chilly day. To make broth, you're using ingredients you might otherwise throw away: a picked-over roast chicken carcass; an odd carrot, celery stalk, or onion; a stray herb sprig or two. These are the basics, but making broth is an improvisational endeavor. If you like, add a chunk or two of peeled celery root, a coarsely chopped parsnip, a piece of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese rind, mushroom stems, a halved tomato or two, and/or a couple of whole dried chiles. The longer it slowly simmers, the richer broth becomes—make a light or rich brew; it's up to you. A rich broth can always be stretched with a little water if you don't have enough for a recipe.
Makes about 2-3 quarts
• 1 or 2 roast chicken carcasses, picked of meat, plus necks, if you have them
• 1 medium onion, quartered (with skin on)
• 2 to 4 gently smashed garlic cloves with peel, or 1 whole head of garlic, with the top 1/2 inch cut off to expose the cloves, if making a larger batch of broth
• 1 to 2 large carrots, washed and cut lengthwise into 2-inch pieces
• 1 to 2 stalks celery, washed and cut lengthwise into 2-inch pieces
• 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
• A handful of fresh parsley sprigs, and/or other savory fresh herb sprigs, such as rosemary, oregano, marjoram, sage, and thyme
Combine all of the ingredients, and as many of the optional ingredients (see Headnote) as you like in a large pot and add water to cover by several inches. Bring the -water to a simmer over medium heat, then reduce the heat so that you have a bare simmer (bubbles just breaking the surface of the water), and cook until the broth is reduced and flavorful. This will generally take 2 to 3 hours for a light broth, or 3 to 6 hours for a richer broth.
As you roast chickens freeze necks backs, and carcasses in resealable bags. Fresh herbs and Parmesan rinds can also be kept frozen for use in broths. Ingredients do not need to be defrosted before using. You can make a broth with just 1 carcass or wait until you have 2 or more for a larger batch. Once made freeze broth in 2 to 4 cup plastic containers, depending on how you use it. Leave 1 inch of space between the broth and the lid, liquid expands when it freezes. Label and date frozen broth, and use it within 6 to 8 months.
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