Recently, at the Reston Farm Market, I met Crazy Farmer Jeff of Breezy Meadow Farms. He told me about the pastured poultry he sells, including a unique product — frozen, ground, chicken backs, which he uses to make chicken broth.
So I bought a two-pound container of ground chicken backs, and following his basic recipe using just the backs and water, I made some great chicken broth at home!
For the chicken broth/stock recipe below, I have provided detailed directions which I hope you will follow carefully, because it’s important to handle both raw ground meat and cooked broth in a food-safe manner.
SLOW COOKER CHICKEN BROTH
— Yields 3 or 4, 10-ounce containers (Varies depending on how long it’s cooked and how hot your slow cooker gets.)
INGREDIENTS (for 6-quart slow cooker)
- 1, 2-pound container Breezy Meadow Farms ground chicken backs from pastured chickens
- ~ 9 cups cold filtered water that’s been brought to a boil
Step 1. Defrost the frozen Breezy Meadow Farms ground chicken backs in your refrigerator for 24 hours.
Step 2. With lid on a 6-quart slow cooker, preheat on high for 15 – 20 minutes.
Step 3. Bring the cold filtered water to a boil.
Step 4. Add the defrosted chicken backs to the preheated slow cooker. Using a large fork, separate the chunks, especially those that may still be slightly frozen. (If more than slightly frozen, defrost in microwave before putting into slow cooker. It’s not safe to put frozen food in a slow cooker because the slow cooker raises the temperature too slowly.)
Step 5. Pour the boiling water over the ground chicken backs in the slow cooker. The water should come up to 1 to 1 1/2 inches from the rim of the slow cooker.
Step 6. Put the lid back on the slow cooker and cook on high until the contents come to a vigorous boil. It can take 1 – 2 hours, depending on your slow cooker.
Step 7. When boiling, turn the slow cooker to low and let it cook on low for about 6 more hours. (Longer won’t hurt. You will just end up with a more concentrated broth because more of the liquid will have evaporated.)
Step 8: After cooking for a total of about 8 hours, remove the ground chicken pieces with a strainer, such as this spider strainer. I did not attempt to get every last tiny piece out of the broth.
Step 9: Let the broth cool down for about 10 minutes, and then ladle it into glass storage jars. (I use Ball jars.) Do not cover them yet.
Step 10. In your kitchen sink, fill a deep pan with cool (not ice cold) water and place the containers of hot broth into the water. When the water warms up, splash some of the water out of the pan and add cold water to the pan. Stir the broth.
Step 11. When the water warms up again, splash some of the water out of the pan and add ice cubes to the pan. Stir the broth. Let the broth cool some more. Stir again.
Step 12. When the broth has cooled to almost room temperature, put the lids on the jars and store them in the cooler part of your refrigerator (back of lower shelf) for up to 3 days. To store the broth longer, put into the freezer, making sure to leave about 1 inch of headspace at the top of each jar so the expanding liquid won’t crack the jar.
Step 13. When the broth is cold, the chicken fat will have risen to the top of the broth and hardened, and the solids (tiny pieces of bone, chicken meat) will have settled to the bottom of the jar. Using a spoon remove the fat from the top of the chilled broth. Do not put the fat down the sink! That will cause plumbing problems! Instead, place the fat into an empty can, like an empty coffee can. When the can is full, discard the can in the trash. (At least in my area, this is the most ecologically sound thing we can do with it.)
BTW, the teeny bones and meat at the bottom of the jar just add interest to the chicken broth and make it look real homemade! And this broth will gel after 12-24 hours — which tells you that the collagen from the bones has been dissolved into the broth!
Note: I don’t re-use this chicken fat because it’s been exposed to heat for a long time and I suspect that even at the low temperature (boiling can’t be higher than 212º F), the chicken fat will have denatured and unhealthful byproducts (such as peroxides) will have been produced.
This chicken soup was a easy to make and delicious! I am definitely going to make it again! And our little dog loves the ground chicken backs – raw or cooked! And he loves the chicken broth — but we love it too.
Enjoy and be healthy!