Weekly Dish: Homemade Chicken Stock

Chicken stock is the base for countless recipes and so easy (and inexpensive!) to prepare yourself! Don’t be intimidated. It is NOT HARD AT ALL. It costs pennies, especially when you buy the bird whole and cut off the breasts and thighs to use for weekly dinners. Toss the carcass and organs in, and you’re on your way to next week’s soup!

Nourishing Traditions says, “Properly prepared, meat stocks are extremely nutritious, containing the minerals of bone, cartilage, marrow and vegetables as electrolytes, a form that easy to assimilate. Acid wine or vinegar added during cooking helps to draw minerals, particularly calcium, magnesium and potassium, into the broth.”

It is the perfect way to stretch your protein and make those amino acids in grains go further than if they were eaten alone. It is great when you are sick, truly, not just as an old-wives tale.

Make a bunch! You’ll be happy you did.

HOMEMADE CHICKEN STOCK

Carcass from 1 free range or organically fed chicken
Giblets
2-3 stalks celery
2-3 carrots
1 onion, quartered
2 cloves peeled and smashed garlic
1-2 Tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar (with the “mother”)
parsley

Put the carcass, vegetables and Apple Cider Vinegar in a stock pot or slow cooker. Fill slow cooker to the brim with cold water (as the ingredients warm in the water, their fibers open and release juices to add flavor). ┬áLet it sit for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Bring to a boil and remove the scum that rises to the top (if you don’t do this, you could end up with off-tasting flavors in your broth… although sometimes I don’t do this and I don’t notice.) Reduce to a simmer and cook at least 6 hours but as long as 24 hours. The longer the cooking time, the more minerals will be released into the water, the more concentrated the broth will be and the better the chances of having a gelatinous* broth.

After the broth is cooked, add a bunch of parsley. This adds a little flavor but a LOT of nutrition.

After it cools a bit, strain into a bowl and put in the fridge until the fat congeals at the top. Scrape off the fat and store in fridge or freezer until ready to use. In the fridge it will last a week, longer if reheated.

*The goal is to have a gelatinous broth. In the fridge it should thicken, sometimes even jelling completely. This will happen if you have let it cook for a long period of time and let it reduce and draw all the minerals and collagen out of the bones and cartilage. The gelatin quality is desired because of its richness in protein. The gelatin is hydrophilic, which means that it attracts fluids (same way Jello works.) So the gelatin in the stock attracts digestive juices to help with digestion.

 

I am sharing this post at Real Food Wednesday!

Weekly Dish: Lentil Chili

No beans in this household at the moment. But it’s Fall and who does Fall without Chili??? So here is a seriously delicious version of traditional Chili. (Of course, you can always just make your own Chili recipe and replace the beans with Lentils)

LENTIL CHILI

1-2 T Butter and/or olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large bell pepper, chopped
5 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 carrots, chopped or sliced
2 celery ribs, chopped or sliced
6-7 C chicken broth, homemade
2 1/4 C Lentils, soaked overnight in enough water to cover
1 28oz. can diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 Tablespoon ground cumin
2 Tablespoons chili powder
1/4 Cup cilantro, chopped
salt & pepper, to taste

Method: Saute onion, bell pepper, carrots and celery in saucepan over medium heat until translucent. Add garlic and cook until just fragrant, 30 seconds. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Cover and cook on medium-low until lentils are almost tender, about 30 minutes. Remove cover and cook 10 more minutes. Stir in cilantro and season with salt and pepper as needed.

[You can also saute all the vegetables and then add the whole thing to the Slow Cooker and cook on low for 4 hours or so.]

Top with a squeeze of lime, cheese, sour cream, and avocado. Serve!

Add-ins or Variations:

Use Fire-Roasted Diced Tomatoes
Add a few Chipotle peppers in Adobo
Add a Sweet Potato
Add Mushrooms
Add Beans and/or Corn
Add Meat
Add Green Chiles or Roasted Peppers

 

I am sharing this post at Real Food Wednesday!

Florentine Rice & Lentils

I’m always on the lookout for a good slow-cooker meal. Here is a great one. It is also highly versatile so really it doesn’t have to be italian. Make it mexican, make it Cajun, make it Irish, make it Asian!

Florentine Rice & Lentils

3/4 cup dry lentils
1/2 c brown rice
3 1/2 C homemade chicken stock
1 cup tomato sauce
1 chopped onion
1 chopped green or red pepper
1 grated or finely chopped carrot
2 cups cooked, shredded chicken
1-2 handfuls of spinach
3 teaspoons Italian seasoning (or oregano)
2 cloves minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
dash black pepper

Marinara sauce (homemade: 1 28oz. can crushed tomatoes, olive oil, garlic)
1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
sprinkle parmesan cheese
Combine rice and lentils and cover with water. Soak overnight in slow cooker with the machine turned off. In the morning, drain the water, then add all other ingredients except marinara sauce and cheese. Mix and cook in slow cooker on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours. 10 minutes before serving, add marinara sauce to top, then cheese and allow it to melt.

Variations:

For Mexican version use Taco seasoning instead of Italian seasoning. Add salsa instead of marinara. Use Jack cheese instead of mozzarella.

For Cajun version use Cajun seasoning, add celery and kidney beans. Omit marinara and mozzarella.

For Irish version, add lager beer in place of the liquid. Add thinly sliced green cabbage. Top with Irish Cheddar.

For Asian version: Use ginger and soy sauce, pineapple chunks, green onions and serve in lettuce cups.