Golden Foundation

chicken broth featured header

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I know that I may have been a little (a little?) explicit about my harsh feelings toward this sad little place called Beijing. But I realized that sucks-ass it may (or certainly) be, moving here is undeniably a blessing in disguise when it comes to how my cooking has evolved. With all the convenience that came with living in New York, I would never have learnt about fresh pasta, layery biscuits, insanely flaky pies, crazy buttery brioche, plus many more that has yet to come next. And of course this, homemade golden broth. One may question if this is really worth its own post. Yes, yes it does. Because it’s NOT JUST your average chicken stock.

When it comes to broth, I don’t know what you’re into but I’m fixated on deep, dense, rich-to-a-point-of-milky-ness, lips-sticking broth (you know those ramen soup so milky it raises suspicion of cream as an ingredients?), and deem everything else unworthy. But for years I’ve settled for less in exchange for convenience (shaaaamme….). Now I’m here and that option was taken away from me (may I still sulk a little?), I started researching on how to achieve that level of intensity I look for in broth (if you were one of the few chefs I harassed briefly, I apologize) and let me tell you, now that even if I COULD have the convenience of whatever high-quality canned/packaged broth from the store, I wouldn’t have it. Because it just doesn’t match this. Imagine if every muscle, skin and bones of chickens and pigs have a soul, and there’s a raging hell where they get boiled, burned and rendered unrecognizable, then reincarnate back on earth as a delicious symphony of crazy-flavor-packed singing molecules that is bonded eternally with H2O… Well, this is that. Infinitely better than packaged stuff.

Make it. I know it may seem like time-consuming (it’s really just a couple of DVD’s time!), but because a one-time-supply usually satisfies the demand for 1 whole month or more. And because it’s better than ANY store-bought versions. Better than ANY ORGANIC store-bought versions. Better than ANY doesn’t-matter-how-EXPENSIVELY-FANCY store-bought versions. No packaged, canned or cubed will ever come close to the flavor of a meticulously brewed homemade broth. And because when one day on your way home and out of nowhere you realized that is fall because the leaves are browning, and you feel a bit lonely and sentimental, you could heat up a bowl of chicken broth from the freezer with just a bit of salt’n pepper, and you’ll feel infinitely snuggy, comforted and happy.

yields 10 ~ 12 cups of broth depending on the concentration

* What I’m showing here is a technique of how to brew a deep and dense broth, which means the ingredients part is very adaptable. I like to keep my broth simple and “indifferent” or versatile, if you will, to adapt to different types of cuisine that I would need it for. I don’t even salt it because I want a better control of the saltiness of the dish it goes into.

** Making broth would be much easier with a pressure cooker. But if you don’t have it, you can use a large stock pot as well. It would just take more time.

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole free-range chicken, or 2 pairs of chicken scaffolds (all the bones/necks/feet left after the chicken is deboned… your butcher can help you with this)
  • 4 pieces of pork backbone (usually comes in 4″ x 4″ piece), or 2 whole pork shank/ham bones (cut in 3 sections), or 1 whole beef shank bone (cut into 3 sections)
  • 1 pig’s trotter/foot (cut in 4 pieces)
  • 1 piece of 4″ x 4″ (10cm x 10cm) Jinhua ham, or prosciutto ham (cheaper-grade is fine)
  • Enough water to cover ***
  • Aromatics, can be adaptable (I like to keep it simple but add other vegetables and spices if preferred. For example, making stock for the next post niu rou mien) *
    • 2 large jumbo scallions, or leeks *UPDATE 2013/1/15: now I like to substitute scallion with 1 large onion, halved. I think the favor works out better this way.
    • 5 ~ 7 slices of ginger
    • 1 tbsp of black peppercorn
    • 1 tsp of ground tumeric

2:00 ~ 2:30 pm: Place the chicken, pork bones and trotter in a large pot with a few pieces of scallions and gingers (not included from the ingredient list). Fill the pot with cold water and bring to a boil. Make sure every piece of bones and meat is submerged and blanch for 3 minutes (no more pink color or blood). Pour the entire pot out into the kitchen sink (facial alert!) with cold water running, and wash each bones and meats under water until all the scums and dirt are removed (discard the scallions and ginger).

2: 30 ~ 3:40 pm: Place ALL the ingredients in a large pressure cooker (or a large stock pot) **. Add enough water to cover everything by 2″ ~ 3″ (the water : solids ratio should be around 3 : 2 ***), then put the pressure cooker lid on and bring to a “hiss” on high heat (or according to your pressure cooker’s instruction), then turn the heat down to medium-low and pressure-cook for 1 hour (or 2 ~ 2:30 hours without pressure cooker).

3:50 ~ 5:50 pm (or longer without pressure cooker): Open the lid once the pressure is completely released. The chicken, pork bones and trotters should be so rendered down that they would just disintegrate when I press them with a tongs, but we are not done yet. BREAK every single piece of joints, muscles, bones and connected tissues with the tongs until everything (EVERYTHING!!) falls apart into shreds. Partially cover the pot by half, then turn the heat back on to medium. Keep it at a medium-to-high-boil (NOT SIMMER!), and add more water along the way to keep the water level to its original amount until the liquid becomes milky, dense and opaque (not see-through or clear). This will take approx another 2 hours.

5: 50 ~ 6:00 pm: Every solids in the broth should be an unrecognizable mush. Once you get to this point, stop adding more water and let the stock reduce down a little (depending on how concentrated you want it). I usually let it reduce down to 80%. Strain the broth through a sieve into another pot. Use a wooden spoon to really press down on the bones and meats to really extract EVERY DROP of broth, then discard the scraps. You’d be surprised how much more liquid you could get out of the scraps.

Let the broth cool down then divide it into freezer-proof containers and freeze until needed.

28 Comments

  • I am a beginner at all of this cooking stuff. I really want to make the Beef Noodle Soup so badly.

    There is that saying that there is no such thing as a stupid question. Maybe your opinion will change after my questions.

    1.) When you say 1 free range chicken, does that mean you tell the butcher to cut all the meat out but keep the bones (for the broth). Or do you tell them to cut a chicken up and put the whole thing into the pot? Like meat and everything.

    2.)In the Beef Noodle Soup stock list, you have 2 large beef shank bones. So I’m guessing the butcher will have shank bones laying around for me to use? ha ha. Or do I buy meat with shank bones and cut out he meat and put the bones in?

    What I’m saying here is that I rather make a fool of myself in the safety of the internet than in front of a butcher thinking I should just eat some vegetables.

    -T

    • Tony, haha no problem! So use 1 whole chicken, meat and all. Or, 2 chicken scaffolds which is chicken with all the meats removed with just bones left. Then about beef shank bones, it depends on if your butcher has them laying around. If not, then yes you can remove the meat from the shank and use the bone.

      I hope this clarify things :)

  • Hey there, thanks for this post, it looks delicious! I was wondering though, under the 3:50pm-5:50pm part of the directions, what do you mean by “partially cover the pot by half?” Do you mean just put a different lid (not the pressure cooker sealed lid) on top halfway and continue at a normal boil instead of pressure cooking the stock any further?

    Thanks,
    Kat

  • Hi there Mandy, excellent recipe – I’m definitely going to give this a try. Quick question: how long does the broth keep? I assume you refrigerate or freeze it?
    Thanks :)

  • If I’m not using a pressure cooker and just using a stock pot, for steps in 2:30-3:40pm, can you specify whether the water should be boiling for 2 hours or not? or on a simmer? Because you said to bring to a ‘hiss’ on high heat for the pressure cooker. so i was just wondering if that was an equivalent to a boil for a stock pot? would i need to reduce heat afterward? thank you.

    • KEONI: I would keep it at a medium-boil (not simmer, but not violently boiling either) throughout the whole cooking process. Add more water to the pot to completely cover the ingredients as the water evaporates, until the chicken bones can be completely dismantled, and the broth is milky and opaque, about 3 hours.

  • Hi Mandy! I’ve tried a lot of your recipes with great results, and I’ve always wanted to make some proper chicken stock. I got my hands on a pressure cooker, pigs feet etc, and made a batch yesterday.

    Some questions though:

    1. How much do your approximate the chicken parts should weigh? The “whole chickens” I can find in Sweden has quite a range of weights.

    2. My stock turned into nice jelly in the fridge as it should, but with all the yellow goodies stuck on top. Is this normal? I guess it wont matter when you liquify it, just wondering if it supposed to be like that. Picture for reference: (http://imgur.com/TYOjFWX)

    3. Could the jellified stock be used to make xiao long bao, or does it need more aromatics and/or gelatin?

    Thanks for all the recipes, looking forward to try some dan dan mian and mapo tofu with my newly made stock!

    • Thomas, I would say a “whole chicken” is about 1200~1500 grams. The yellow stuff on top of your jello is chicken fat :) Which you definitely want to keep. I usually just divide the stock when it was hot, and equally distribute the fat in each container. But since yours has solidified, might as well just cut it up to divide it. If your recipe doesn’t call for such rich/fatty stock, then remove the fat when it’s cold and solid like that, and store it in an air-tight container. It’s good for sauteeing greens, frying shallots and all sorts of other goodies. As for soup dumplings, the stock will need more gelatin. You can try reducing it by 1/2, which I think should be condensed enough.

  • Hey Mandy!

    I am not sure about the amount of Jinhua ham i need, it’s missing the third dimension. Do you mean a piece of 10x10x10cm? Here in Germany the easiest is to buy thin slices, do you know how many grams i need?

    HL

    • Hl, sorry for the confusion. It should be around 10x10x2cm. So basically a really thick slice. I don’t have the weight at this moment, but precision isn’t crutial in this recipe :). Hope it helps!

  • I’m trying to make this broth without a pressure cooker. The bones have been boiling for three hours now and they’re nowhere near soft enough to break apart with tongs. Am I missing something? Every other bone broth recipe I’ve read gives at least 24 hours of simmering before the bones soften. Should I just continue boiling?

  • Just wanted to say THANK YOU, for this recipe and the blog in total. I’ve made a few recipes and those that I’ve shared (which means I don’t finish them before I leave the house) are always very well received (and I’m always sure to let folks know where the inspiration comes from. Just spent a blizzard day making this foundation- the prefect pick-me-up for the post shoveling defrost. Cheers!

  • Hello Mandy, I am new to your blog and want to try so many of your recipes. I thought I would start by making this broth. I got most of the ingredients on your list. I bought 3.25 pounds of chicken bones that included (5)chicken feet, (3)neck bones. I was wondering if that will work or should I just get a whole chicken? Many thanks!

    • Hasti, that sounds ok to me, but when in doubt, you can always throw in extra pig bones or any other bone-scraps you have on hand. If you find your broth to be less dense than your liking, you can always reduce it down further :)

  • Hi Mandy,

    I was wondering if you could make this in the slow cooker. I made my own homemade chicken soup in the slow cooker overnight and it turned out wonderfully.

    Thanks and good luck!

  • Hello, first, love the blog and thank you for sharing your recipes… also the writing is quite funny!

    Second, I’m trying to learn the reasoning/technique behind the pressure cooker and then half covered (why not pressure cook whole time?)

    Thank you

    • Neil, pressure cooker doesn’t allow you to cook the bones to a mush. You’ll have to do that manually. Secondly, it also doesn’t create the rapid boil that results in the milky color (at least that was my experience).

  • Great recipe and technique. After skimming and preserving fat(for other uses) refrigerated stock which separated into four distinct layers. The bottom layer very thin, gritty and probably bone meal, the larger second layer gelatinous broth, the third layer composed of the milky yellow layer you describe, and finally the last layer also very thin, fat not captured. I assume after removing layer one and four I should attempt to blend the two remaining layers back together. Should I expect that they will again separate?
    The ginger, shallots and tumeric add an incredible flavor profile, Thanks again hope to make a few more of your recipes.

  • If I only have high setting on an electric pressure cooker, should I leave it on high the entire time for the hour in the 2:30-3:40 step? And then since it’s electric not stovetop would you recommend I then pour it into a stock pot and continue boiling in the next step? What is the difference in that next step (starting at 3:50) between doing that in a half-covered pressure cooker vs a stock pot?

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