Classic recipes for chicken broth call for an old stewing hen and other stuff, with long, long hours of simmering over a low fire. After cooking, one discards the meat, as it is often tough and stringy.
First, if one works outside the home, where's the time to do this? Second, it heats and steams up the house in warm weather and uses too much gas or electric. Third, good stewing hens cost too much, and it's wasteful to throw the meat away afterwards. So most times powdered soup base, chicken bouillon cubes or canned broth is used when a recipe requires chicken broth.
Here's a short cut that's quicker and economical. It's not quite as clear as classic broth, but just as tasty. You can use most of the chicken for something else. You can also grind the bones, scraps and veggies and use them for dog food!
Approximately 3 1/2 lbs. of the very cheapest cut of chicken
(for instance, 4 small or 3 large thigh quarters, or a big fryer)
water to cover
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large carrot, scrubbed, cut in half
2 stalks of celery with some leaves, cut in half
1 small parsnip, if you have any, scraped and cut in half
1 large onion, peeled and cut in half
1 small ripe tomato, quartered
1 tablespoon lemon juice
4 to 6 cloves of garlic
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon dried rosemary, or
1 teaspoon sage, or
1 teaspoon dried cilantro
If using a whole chicken, cut it up. Wash chicken well. Pull off any large hunks of fat. Smaller amounts may be left on for now, as well as all the skin. Pat dry with paper towels.
Heat the olive oil in a 6-quart pressure cooker over medium-high heat. Brown the chicken lightly on all sides, one layer at a time. Return the golden-browned chicken to the pan. Add the vegetables, seasonings and salt. Cover with cold water. Put on the pressure cooker lid and place on high heat. When the pressure is at maximum, turn the fire as low as possible without losing that pressure. Cook for about an hour.
Release pressure according to your pan's instructions. Uncover and taste. If the broth is too weak, you may reduce it by boiling rapidly, uncovered, and perhaps adding more seasonings to taste. It may also benefit from more salt, if your priorities allow sodium. When the flavor is satisfactory, allow to cool slightly.
Strain all the broth into another pan. If you wish, add a cup of cold water to the chicken, swish it around and strain this into the broth as well, to get all that good flavor out.
This broth contains a considerable amount of fat. You may skim it off using a skimmer or gravy strainer, or refrigerate until the fat congeals and then just lift it off.
This broth is great for soups, gravy, sauces, or to add flavor to many dishes. If you won't use it within a day, freeze it. I like to freeze some in ice cube trays, then store the cubes in a zipper freezer bag. This way I can add a little extra flavor to any dish that calls for it.
As soon as the chicken is cool enough to handle, separate the choicer bits from the scraps, bones and veggies. The chicken can be used to make delicious chicken salad sandwiches, cubed and added to soup, combined with veggies to make a chicken pot pie or shepherd's pie, shredded and used to stuff pitas, fajitas or burritos, or added to stir fry. You may freeze it in portions if you like for later use. Note that it's best to use it in well-seasoned dishes because much of the flavor has come out into the broth.
If you have a dog, it will love the remaining scraps and crumbly bones put through a blender or food processor to make chicken mush for addition to its dry food.
Be sure and refrigerate or freeze the chicken, broth (and mush) promptly until ready to use.