Homemade Chicken Broth

 

I remember reading my mom’s recipes when I was a little girl. There was a recipe from my Great Grandma Ruth entitled “Bone Soup” and I thought it was the funniest thing ever. Why would ANYONE want to make soup out of bones? There’s no meat on them?! I used to think that my great grandma, who raised 7 children in the hills of southern Oregon was crazy. I mean… who makes soup out of bones? Well, growing up has a way of saying “I told you so” and the simple answer is: Me. I drink a quart or two a day, it is the stuff that gives me energy and has been so instrumental in my healing journey. I use it for all of my soup bases and will add it to casseroles, roasted veggies, mashed veggies. You name it and it’s probably being added to a meal. Incognito style.

Broth is ancient – think Stone Age ancient and go back to the time where organ meats were king. The first soups were made by placing hot rocks in the abdominal pouches of butchered animals in order to slowly cook up mixtures of meat, bone, fat, herbs, wild grains and vegetables. To this day, there is some record of nourishing broth, either oral or written, in almost every culture.

Until the modern invention of mass canning (think Campbell’s and Progresso), many homes had a cauldron or large pot in which they kept broth simmering on the back burner. Even Downton Abbey gave a nod in Season 5 to the importance broth had in by-gone eras with The Dowager Countess (I just love her character) quipping, “every good lady’s maid should know how to make a restorative broth.” While I have no dreams or aspirations of becoming a lady’s maid, I do think that every single person should know how to make a restorative broth. 

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Chicken Fat

Today’s blog post will probably go against everything that you’ve ever been taught about how to eat. I suggest you sit while you read it. I, probably like many of you, grew up under the notion that consuming animal skin was bad for you. There was so much fat and fat and more fat that it was just no bueno. Ready to have your world rocked?

Wrong-o.

Consuming chicken skin isn’t bad for you. Nor is rendering the fat from it. Only one caveat: not all skins are created equal. Meaning that if we’re talking about our “normal bought at a conventional store” product, probably not the best idea. The skin and fat stores things – like toxins, excess self-produced hormones (chickens are not allowed to be fed/injected with hormones in the US, if you buy chicken because it’s “hormone-free”, you’re being duped) and other icky stuff you really don’t want in your body. 

Conventional chicken skins are raised in a mass barn, where the chickens are crammed in with each other, often walking on dead chickens, with no sunlight and crappy feed. Mmmm… I don’t know about you, but if I were being raised that way, I’d probably be pretty sickly, not grow well and be nutrient deficient. The same goes for the birds – if they’re raised in a crappy environment, they’re not going to produce the same quality of meat which means you’re not going to get the same nutrient panel from them. So, moral of the story: eating organic, free-range humanely raised chicken isn’t just a Portlandia joke, it’s really really much better for your health.

Now to talk about chicken feed. There’s a newish movement to feed chickens vegetarian feed. When you see that, think chemical shit storm. Seriously. While chickens aren’t allowed to be given hormones, they’re allowed to be given soy…. which acts an an estradiol. Which means… they’re being given a nutrient that works to create excess hormones in their body. See where I’m going with this?  mmmm – excess estrogen ingested into our bodies. Sign me up for none of that, please.

Further, chickens don’t eat soy. Nor do they eat a vegetarian diet. Like most birds, they’re foragers. And they eat bugs. They’re actually really good at bug population control – especially ticks and mosquitos. Those bird brains LOVE to eat them. A chicken that eats a natural diet is going to yield more healthful nutrients in its skin – like high levels of vitamin D3 and gut-healing properties. So… what does all of this have to do with chicken skins?

I buy my chicken skins from New Seasons here in Portland. A few times a year, I give the butcher at my local store a ring and request some of the organic, free-range chicken skins. He quotes me at $.99/lb and I tell him I want 5 pounds. It’s pretty easy. As he processes the meat, he throws them into a bag and puts it in the deep freeze. I get a call after a few days saying that my skins are ready and I drive over to pick them up and get a few weird looks/questions while I’m at it. You can set up a similar scenario at your local organic/natural foods store – but the prices will vary from store to store so go with what your butcher tells you. 🙂 I portion the skins out and freeze them into quart bags. I’ll process one pound at a time – it usually renders around a pint and a half. If any of you are good at math, that’s super cheap.

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Okay – so enough rambling. Here’s what I do to render the fat and eat the skins.

Chicken Fat

  • 1 pound chicken fat, washed and cut into smaller pieces (check for boney pieces and cut them out)
  • ½ cup of water
  • a large stock pot and a splatter screen (those things pop!)
  1. Layer the chicken skins on the bottom of a deep skillet or a dutch oven (I prefer the dutch oven, personally.)
  2. Dump the water in the pot and turn the stove top on to medium-high heat.
  3. Mix occasionally.
  4. You will start seeing golden fat float to the top along with some pieces of skin – it it looks more like skin and less like fried crispy goodness, keep going. Also, if you still see bubbles coming up from the bottom of the pan, keep going. This indicates water is still at the bottom. And when you use the fat, it’ll pop and you’ll get burned with hot oil. Again, no bueno.
  5. When the bubbles stop rising and the skin is completely golden and crispy, you’re done.
  6. Let the fat cool for a minute or two and prepare a fine mesh colander with some cheesecloth (this strains out the cracklings and small pieces). Place in a bowl and pour the fat through it.
  7. Allow to cool for a few minutes before transferring it to your glass storage container. Label and place in the fridge. Fat will last for a long, long while.
  8. With the cracklings, sprinkle some sea salt or pink salt and let cool – they make a healthy and delicious snack. Enjoy!

I use the fat to cook everything from eggs to smothering it between the skin and meat of a whole chicken to pan frying my broccoli to sauteing just about any vegetable.  Also, if you need more fat in the pan while you’re cooking, don’t be afraid of glopping it in. The uses are endless. Enjoy!

Chicken Marbella

By far my favorite chicken recipe of all time, this used to be my go-to when I had people coming over for dinner. The meal required a bit of planning ahead because I would let it marinade for 24 hours, rather than the instructed overnight. I recently experimented with making it paleo-friendly and the first attempt came out much too sweet. I’ve since cut back on the maple syrup and did a few made a few more tweaks.

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I used to serve it with white rice (I know, I know, I had no idea then) and will every once in a while serve it with brown rice of which I’ve soaked for 24 hours and then rinsed thoroughly (it ferments it of sorts). More often than not, I’ll pulse cauliflower until it’s the consistency of rice in my food processor and then steam it in a skillet with chicken fat or I’ll serve it over roasted cauliflower. It’s fantastic! I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Chicken Marbella
(based on the recipe from The Silver Palate Cookbook)

  • 1 organic, free range fryer chicken, quartered (save the back and freeze it for soup) with the skin still on
  • 4 cloves of garlic, mashed
  • 1 ½ tbsp dried oregano
  • sea salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup pitted prunes
  • 1/3 cup pitted green Greek olives
  • 2 tbsp capers, plus 1 tbsp caper juice
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 3 tbsp organic grade B maple syrup
  • ¼ cup white wine or chicken stock (if you can’t tolerate wine)
  • 2 tbsp Italian parsley, finely chopped
  1. The night before: In a bowl, mix the chicken, garlic, oregano, S&P, red wine vinegar, olive oil, prunes, olives, capers and juice, and bay leaves. Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours.
  2. The next day: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Transfer chicken to a dutch oven and lay out chicken in a single layer, pour marinade juice around the chicken pieces.
  3. Pour maple syrup and white wine atop and place in the oven.
  4. Bake for 50 minutes to one hour, basting frequently, until juices run clear in the chicken, when cut.
  5. With a slotted spoon, transfer chicken, capers, prunes and olives to a plate. Pour juices into a sauceboat… or just do what I did and serve it all in one massive heap atop a bed of steamed cauliflower “rice”. Sprinkle the Italian parsley on top prior to serving.

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Accidental Paleo Teriyaki Chicken

Ever have one of those nights where you set out to make something and end up with something completely different?

Yea. Those nights. Welcome to my world.

I had some time to kill yesterday and stopped by Bob’s Red Mill to see which spice I didn’t already have and possibly couldn’t live without. Now. I’m not usually one to buy blends. I typically like to make my own – I can control the extras they put in a lot better that way. But I was curious about the Chinese Five Spice – so I bought a small amount of it and figured I’d doctor something up later… with the chicken that I pulled out of the freezer that morning and put in the fridge and that didn’t defrost. Whoops.

After that comedy of errors, I finally managed to defrost it (cold water baths are my friend) and dinner was made (although I was trying to make a different dish altogether) and I’m so very happy for my “mistake!” So, here’s Day 4 of my Whole30 Challenge dinner. Enjoy!

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Paleo Teriyaki Chicken

  • 8 organic Chicken Thighs, trimmed
  • ½ Onion, diced
  • 1 ½ tsp Clarified Chicken Fat (or evoo)
  • Organic Broccolini
  • 3 tbsp Coconut Aminos (can be purchased at a local Whole Foods)
  • ¼ cup organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil (evoo)
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp Chinese Five Spice Blend
  • 1 ½ tsp fresh grated Ginger
  • 1 tbsp Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar
  1. In a skillet, over medium heat, heat chicken fat and add diced onions. Saute until translucent.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix the aminos, evoo, garlic, spice blend, ginger and apple cider vinegar. Set aside.
  3. Spread out onions so they evenly coat the pan and lay the chicken thighs on top. Pour the marinade over top and cover with a lid.
  4. Let the chicken steam until done, only turning once to ensure even coating of the marinade.
  5. About two minutes before serving, place the broccolini on top and put the lid back on. (This will steam blanch the broccolini.)
  6. Serve hot and spoon the juices on top when serving. Leftovers can be in the fridge for up to 7 days.

Chipotle Salad Dressing

I love Chipotle. It’s where I go when I want a cheat day. And by “cheat day,” I mean that I have rice. Living life on the edge! This is basically what’s going through my head those days:

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So when I tried their new salad dressing, I was hooked. Except that it was a bit too sweet and a bit too salty for my taste. Also, they used adobo sauce – which sometimes contains gluten due to “natural flavors.” There was only one thing to be done. Make my own. So I did. And it’s fabulous and my new favorite. I really want to try it as a wings marinade next – tailgating season is right around the corner!

Chipotle Salad Dressing

  • ¼ cup Raw Honey
  • ½ cup Red Wine Vinegar
  • 1 tbsp Adobo Seasoning
  • 1 tbsp Dried Oregano
  • ¾ tsp Black Pepper
  • 1 1/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Mix all ingredients in a blender or using a hand mixer, slowly drizzling in oil at the end. Or, do what I do and put everything in a mason jar, seal with a rubber-rimmed lid and shake it like crazy until the honey is dissolved. Note: Ingredients will separate between use and it can be stored in a sealed container for up to two weeks in the fridge.

 

PIZZA!!!!!! (and it’s paleo!)

A few months ago, I tried to make paleo pizza dough but it was an abysmal failure. After scouring Pinterest (yes, I’m addicted to that as much as I am to running), I decided to modify a recipe and lose the cheese.

Apparently you really do need cheese sometimes – it was barely palatable to say the least.

This last week, the cravings for carbs and protein hit like none other thanks to my new attempts at CrossFit (I look like a flailing goat or some other highly pathetic animal but I plan on mastering it). Grocery shopping was not in the gameplan – it’s the end of the month which equals time to get creative, make mistakes (hopefully they taste good), and only get messy enough that I don’t destroy my kitchen…. oh, and not spend any money.

The pizza was delicious and both paleo and non-paleo roommates enjoyed it thoroughly, with a request to make it again soon. If the non-paleo likes it,  you know it’s good!

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Paleo Pizza
For the crust:

  • ½ head of caulflower, “riced”
  • 2 ½ tbsp coconut flour
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • dash of salt

Toppings:

  • 1 bottle Trader Joe’s Artichoke Antipasto Pesto (or whatever it was called – it’s not paleo because of the oil type but it was on my shelf from who knows when and I wanted to get rid of it) OR you can do my Tomato-Free “Tomato” Marinara
  • ½ medium Onion, sliced very thinly
  • 5-6 cloves of Garlic, sliced thin
  • a few handfuls of Arugula
  • ½# Ground Chicken sauteed with 3 cloves minced garlic, salt and pepper
  • A handful of Organic Grape Tomatoes, halved (omit if on SCD or anti-inflammatory diets)
  • Kalamata Olives, halved and pits removed
  • salt and pepper
  • Seriously. Whatever you have in your fridge.
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In a food processor, process small amounts of cauliflower until they are the size of small tapioca, scraping down the sides as needed. You may need to remove any large pieces and put them in the next batch so you don’t juice your cauliflower. Remove and dump into a bowl. Repeat until all cauliflower has been riced.
  3. Mix in remaining ingredients (you could put some herbs in for some extra something).
  4. Line a pan with parchment paper and pat out a crust. Precook for 15 minutes, or until the sides of the crust are starting to turn golden brown.
  5. Remove from the oven and place toppings on. Place back in oven for 15 min, or until the bottom of the crust is a light golden brown.
  6. Let cool for a few minutes, cut and serve! Note: This is an"eat with fork and knife" crust – I haven’t perfected the crunchy crust quite yet but am working on it!image

They say good things happen to those who wait. If that’s the case than my latest concoction won’t be ready for another 24 hours.

What is it I’m making?

Broth. Amazing, down-home, the-best-broth-of-your-life, broth.

My mother recently took a broth making class here in the Portland area and, upon returning home, apologized for not having made us good broth growing up. So what makes blasé broth amazing? Time. And ingredients. But mostly time.

Instead of going out and buying new veggies, save the scraps of organic carrots (except the stem ends), celery, fennel, onion peels (the paper and ends), and whatever else you may want to add. Also, save everything from the chicken – and I mean everything. If your butcher has cleaned chicken feet, throw a few in as well. If they have chicken skins, throw a bit of those in, too.

Have fun with the spices – I enjoy fresh thyme, rosemary, juniper berries (only 4 or 5 in a pot), pepper corns, and bay leaves. Add a bit of raw apple cider vinegar (about 2 tbsp). Brag’s is a great option. Throw everything in a stock pot, top off with filtered water and simmer on low for about 15 hours, or until the bones can be broken between your fingers. (Beef bones may be a bit longer.)

Strain the broth using a fine mesh colander and a cheese cloth. Toss the veggies in the trash – don’t compost them due to the meat product in them. Also, don’t toss the fat layer on top – it has gut-healing properties, wonderful for people with a leaky-gut. The broth won’t be a light color at all but a deep amber so don’t be worried. Season with sea salt toward the end of cooking or the saltiness will be overwhelming.

And enjoy! I drink it out of a mug, add it to my (fresh) veggies when I roast them, and make paleo soup. The stock will be highly concentrated so a little bit will go a long way.

Leek and Lemon Roasted Chicken

I have a confession to make.

I ate too much for dinner. It was delicious. Beyond delicious.

Why didn’t I ever think to use leeks for a chicken before?! (Okay, my mom did this and I stole it and now I’m marketing it as mine.) Regardless, I’m looking forward to leftovers. Moreover, I’m looking forward to the pan drippings for future gravy, rendered fat, and soup stock that this chicken will give me. I also froze the liver for future use. I’ll save all of the bones and skin as I eat the chicken and use them for soup stock – the meat will be picked off first and frozen separately. I’ll have a how-to for chicken stock in a few weeks – I just need to collect some more bones.

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So, here’s what I did. And I apologize if you’re loosening a belt buckle or two at the end of your meal. I know I sure feel like I need to. 🙂

Leek and Lemon Roasted Chicken

  • 1 whole 4-lb chicken, pasture-raised, organic, soy and corn-free
  • 1 organic lemon, cut into ¼-inch thick slices
  • 1 organic leek, thinly sliced – both the white and the green parts
  • ½ stick organic grass-fed butter, cut into tbsp increments or rendered chicken fat
  • kosher salt
  1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Place the thinly sliced leek at the bottom of an 8-inch or 10-inch  cast iron skillet, top with 1 tbsp butter (I cut it into smaller pieces on top of the leeks).
  3. Remove any remaining feathers from the chicken and remove any innards in the chicken. Put the liver in a storage container and throw it in the freezer. 🙂 It’s super healthy.
  4. Throw the neck in the freezer for broth later on. Might as well kill two birds with one stone. Pun intended.
  5. Separate the skin covering the breast from the meat and rub the remaining butter in between.
  6. Tuck the chicken legs and wings in so they’re not hanging out of the pan.
  7. Place chicken in the oven and cook at 275 degrees Fahrenheit for three hours.
  8. Increase the heat to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and cook for an additional 45 minutes, or the juices run clear and the internal temperature is 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove from oven and let it sit for 5-10 minutes (until the juices are set) and then carve.
  9. Serve with the drippings poured over the chicken for extra deliciousness and enjoy!

Egg and Vegetable Scramble with Homemade Chicken Sausage

So the scramble itself wasn’t anything to write home about. The fresh veggies were delicious but some of my younger siblings thought I was trying to poison them. (Broccoli and spinach and onion in eggs? Who would do that?!)

But the sausage…

The sausage was fabulous. And a definite “make again” recipe. If you’re on this diet, processed foods are a major No-No. Which means prepared sausages, even if they’re minimally processed, are off limits. Combine that with the fact that this diet requires you to know ever. single. ingredient. So anything with the abstract “natural flavors” or “spices” really doesn’t help too much. And sausages like to throw in soy, gluten, bell pepper, and some sort of dairy product into the mix. If you’re crunched for time, choosing a freshly made sausage – like the ones you get at Whole Paycheck (aka Whole Foods) or some gourmet grocery store where the butchers made them that morning and they can tell you every ingredient, is your best alternative. Otherwise, stock up on hormone-free organic ground chicken and get ready for a sausage making marathon.

Another little tidbit: I like to buy my chicken in “bulk”. I’ll buy a few pounds and mix up the sausage at once. I’ll put it in a glass casserole dish with a bit up olive oil rubbed around it and bake it at 350 Fahrenheit until a meat thermometer reaches 160 Fahrenheit. After it’s cooled, I’ll break it up and put it into freezer bags and freeze it. Totally a major time-saver.

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Enjoy!

Egg and Vegetable Scramble

  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 tbsp cold-pressed olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 chives, diced
  • 1/3 cup organic broccoli, blanched and diced
  • 3 big handfuls of organic baby spinach, rinsed
  • 4 organic eggs, beaten
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 chives, diced (optional)
  • ¼ pound chicken sausage (recipe below)
  1. Saute onion and garlic over medium heat until onions are translucent and starting to caramelize. 
  2. Blanch the broccoli and drain. Dice and set aside. Add diced chives and spinach. Cover until spinach is wilted.
  3. Add broccoli and chicken sausage and stir. Add beaten eggs. Cover the pan for a few minutes to let the eggs steam set. (About 2-3 minutes.) Remove the lid and stir the eggs until done. 

Chicken Sausage

  • 1 pound organic ground chicken
  • 1 tsp ground sage
  • 1 tsp fennel seed
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • ¼ tsp ground white pepper
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp allspice
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • 1/3 tsp nutmeg
  1. Mix all of the ingredients until just blended, being careful to not over stir. (The meat will become tough.)
  2. Cook until no pink is shown in a skillet. Or bake in a glass dish, rubbed down with olive oil, at 350 Fahrenheit until a meat thermometer reads 160 Fahrenheit.

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