When you roast a chicken, what do you do with the bones? Specifically that main carcass left over once you’ve pulled most of the succulent, crisp-skinned meat off of it? I certainly hope you don’t throw it away. That sad, meatless cage of backbones and breast bones isn’t useless! It’s your thrifty secret to delicious, homemade chicken broth, and it could not be easier to transform it into liquid gold. Just add some aromatic veggies and herbs, simmer for a few hours, and you’re set. If you can’t get to it right away, don’t worry, just tuck it in a sealable plastic bag and freeze until you want it (unless your freezer is as crammed full as mine, but that’s a story for another time).
Once you’ve made your stock, the possibilities are endless. You can use it immediately, or chill it for later, or even simmer it down further into a concentrated broth you can then freeze and reconstitute as needed. Once you have some homemade chicken broth stored up, use it to boost flavor in anything from rice dishes to polenta to soup to savory oatmeal.
Speaking of soup, may I suggest this Salsa Verde Chicken & Rice recipe? I first made a version of it years ago from a hodge-podge of leftovers, and I’ve since perfected it to this current version. It’s bright, zingy, creamy, and just a little bit spicy. Sounds perfect for the last gasp of winter or the return of El Nino.
Easy Chicken Stock
1 chicken worth of leftover bones (from roasting)
1 onion, cut into chunks
1 celery stalk, cut into chunks
2 carrots, cut into chunks
2 cloves garlic
1 bay leaf
other herbs, if you have them
kosher salt, to taste
- Place the chicken bones in a large pot. Break up the carcass as neccessary to ensure no bones will be sticking out of the liquid. Fill the pot with water until all bones are completely submerged (probably at least 6 or 8 cups).
- Simmer for 2 hours, then add the onion, celery, carrots, garlic, bay leaf and any other herbs. Season with salt. Simmer another hour.
- Remove the pot from heat and let cool slightly. Using a metal strainer or cheesecloth, strain the broth, removing all solids. Separate any meat from the bones (you should be able to get a fair amount of meat) and discard vegetables and bones.
- Either use immediately or chill for later use.
- Before chilling or freezing, be sure to cool the broth to room temperature.
- If desired, you can easily remove extra fat from the broth by chilling overnight and then removing the solid fat layer that collects on top.
Salsa Verde Chicken & Rice Soup
6 large tomatillos, husked and quartered
3 jalapenos, stems removed and cut in half lengthwise
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 white onion, cut into chunks
salt and pepper
1/2 bunch cilantro
1/4 cup lime juice (from about 2 or 3 limes)
6 cups chicken stock (see recipe above)
1 1/2 cups rice (any medium or long grain variety)
1-2 cups shredded chicken
6-8 cups baby spinach
- Make the salsa verde. Preheat oven to 375. On a large baking sheet, toss the tomatillos, jalapenos, garlic, and onion with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.
- When cooled, place roasted ingredients in a blender or food processor. Add in cilantro and lime juice and blend until smooth. Reserve 1 1/2 cup of the salsa for soup and set aside (the rest makes an excellent dip for chips or as a topping for scrambled eggs).
- In a large pot, bring the chicken stock to a boil and add the rice. Reduce to a simmer and let cook until rice is done, following cooking times according to the package. The rice will thicken the soup as it cooks.
- When rice is done cooking, add the shredded chicken, baby spinach and reserved salsa verde to the pot. If soup seems very thick add a little water to thin.
- Remove pot from heat and let spinach wilt. Serve hot, garnished with a dollop of sour cream and a squeeze of lime, if desired.