Chicken Broth – cure for the common cold

It is a good thing that I don’t mind the taste of chicken. ‘It tastes sort of like chicken’ is a phrase you hear often enough to make you realize that nearly everything tastes like chicken.

Chicken is okay and it is inexpensive. We usually load up on whole chickens when we find them on a special sale. One whole chicken is enough for a whole week of suppers for two if you are careful about preparation and portion size.

We normally start by cutting it up. Legs, thighs, breasts, and wings are removed. I am partial to wings, thighs, and legs but also have never been known to reject a chicken breast.

Chicken is also good roasted whole or smoked. Smoked chicken is excellent but you may not care for it in soup.

Once those parts are removed, you are left with a carcass that still has some meat on it but nothing in sufficient quantity to make a couple of meals. So, we boil the carcass in a big pot with lots of water and herbs. Rosemary, thyme, salt, pepper, bay leaf, sage, or whatever you consider makes stuff taste good. Let it boil for an hour or two. Then turn off the heat and let it cool.

When cool remove the carcass and pick off the cooked meat. Cut the meat into small pieces and set aside to make soup.

Use a ladle to skim off the liquid chicken broth and pour it into jars, a ladle full at a time. I use Prego jars. One carcass will make enough broth to fill three jars and still have enough fixings left over to fill three more jars with chicken rice soup. Or you can use noodles.

Once the three jars of broth have been filled, pour what is left in the pot through a strainer to remove all solids. Pour the strained liguid back into the pot, add several diced sticks of celery and a diced carrot. Add water until the pot is half full. Add back the cut up chicken meat. Bring this to a boil. Turn down the heat so that it is still at a boil but just barely. Add one cup of dry rice. Not instant rice! Just normal dry rice. Let that simmer for at least half an hour. Stir it every ten minutes or so. Let it cool and pour it into Prego jars.

You should now have three jars of chicken broth and three jars of concentrated chicken rice soup. Each jar of soup can be used to make four servings. The chicken broth is handy for use as soup stock, stew stock, rice flavoring.

The stocks are self explanatory. The rice flavoring might need some explanation.

There are lots of ways of preparing rice. Most of them involve the use of hot water. One of my favorite ways of preparation is in a large skillet. Cover the bottom of the skillet with a drizzle of olive oil. Bring to temperature with the burner at medium heat. Pour a cup of dry rice into the skillet. Stir while it is cooking. Cook until it is light brown. Be careful not to let it get too dark. Stop the browning by pouring in a Prego jar full of chicken broth. Lots of noise, lots of steam. Stir well and put a lid on it. Let it sit for five minutes and check back to stir some more. The idea here is to let the rice cook completely and absorb the chicken broth. Add diced onion, diced bell pepper, diced carrots, diced tomato, or whatever vegetable you like. Or don’t add anything at all. If you don’t let this dish burn, there is no way to ruin it.

You can make the rice as fluffy or as soupy as you want. Just don’t let it burn. Burn it will too if you cook off all the liquid and let it sit without stirring. Soupy rice is best for use in casseroles. Pour the soupy rice into a casserole dish and cover it with a few fillets of fish seasoned with salt, pepper, and dill. Or use chicken breasts with the salt, pepper, and dill. You may also want to try to add a can of condensed mushroom soup to the rice. That makes for a very rich casserole but still fairly low calorie. It just tastes rich. Tastes good too, if you like mushrooms. If you really like mushrooms, just add a can of mushrooms to the rice and forget the condensed soup.

Put that in an oven at 350 degrees. Let bake for an hour or so. Remove from the oven and melt a couple of patties of butter on top of the meat. Serve. Given the amounts of rice used this will make four generous portions.

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