Yesterday, I woke up and decided to try and make chicken stock from scratch.
And, after another ten minutes of
reflection, I further resolved to make it “from scratch” if at all possible.
I rushed out the door to go grocery shopping, and grabbed the first set of ingredients:
soup greens. Then, while I was at the butcher, I grabbed the second set of ingredients:
chicken bones (prepackaged). (The bones ran me about $5, but my butcher charges a lot
because they’re the only game in town; I’m pretty sure at other places it would
I got back from the market around noon, and after eating a quick lunch, I got
Following tips from friends and the internet, I browned the chicken bones
(they still had a bit of meat on ‘em) in a skillet for a few minutes, before
tossing them into a slow cooker with boiling water. Over the course of a few
hours, I noticed the broth slowly getting thicker, as more chicken essence
cooked into the pot. After around five hours, I ladled out two pints of the
stock and reserved it; in a small (3.5 quart) stock pot, I seasoned my aromatics,
poured in the stock (added a bit of water to fill), and cooked everything through
for an hour. The resulting soup was quite tasty, and if I hadn’t watered down the
stock, I’m sure would be even hardier.
That said, while I’m pleased with the results, I’m not sure it’s worth running off to the
market bone-hunting and broth-simmering every time I want a pint of stock.
I think the homemade stuff tastes about 50% better than the off-the-shelf variety,
and if I can make use of a gallon of stock (or freeze it), runs maybe half the
price. So sure, by my estimation, homemade broth is 1.5 / .5 = 3 times “better”
than the off-the-shelf stuff. But, most of that difference
is due to price; when time/effort are limited, and taste is the only remaining
benefit, it’s not improved enough to justify the effort. So for me, it’s a
tradeoff. I’ll probably do this again on similar Sundays, but I won’t necessarily
bother if I’m cooking for company and already need to invest time cooking other things.
The next time you’re planning on making yourself a chicken soup (or
any dish where you need a decent quantity of chicken stock), ask yourself if you
have the time to make yourself some stock; if you do, I think your palette and
wallet will thank you.