The days are lengthening moment by moment. Some are balmy in the 60s, others overcast, with highs of 19˚. One recent morning, a couple of inches of snow blanketed the ground after ferocious winds had whipped at us the day before like an unrelenting punishment. Harbingers of spring, these winds push me indoors to huddle by the fire till they leave town.
It is a hovering time — not the deep dark of sparkling winter nights, in which closing your day at 5 pm is reasonable and not so embarrassing, but a time of maintaining our vigil of extra self care. My large pots sit on low heat, simmering mineral-rich chicken, beef or fish stocks, hearty soups, braised one-pot meals and slow cooked beans. Fortification for frosty toes and hearts left unsteady by these unpredictable days.
Recently, sipping a cup of homemade chicken broth flecked with parsley helped me recover from a cold. As I felt better, I added a soft-boiled egg, scallions, and bits of chicken. Just the thing to shore up a body and soul waiting for spring.
Chicken Broth, a la Alice Waters
Yield 4-6 quarts
I like to make chicken broth the way Alice Waters suggests in “The Art of Simple Food.” This is my go-to recipe and I rarely veer far from it. That whole head of garlic infuses the broth with the confidence to be the foundation for countless improvisations. Leftover chicken, slivered carrots, daikon radish, fennel, an egg, or sliced ginger can be added for a light soup, or the broth can be the base of heartier meals, such as minestrone. Here’s to your warmth during these blustery, changeable days!
- 1 whole chicken, 3 ½ to 4 lbs
- 1 ½ gallons cold water
- 1 carrot, peeled
- 1 onion, peeled and halved
- 1 head of garlic, cut in half
- 1 celery stalk
- ½ teaspoon black peppercorns
- 1 bouquet garni of parsley and thyme sprigs and a large bay leaf
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
In a large pot, place the whole chicken (you may buy equivalent parts or cut it up yourself)
Pour in 1 ½ gallons cold water; add the apple cider vinegar; allow chicken to rest in the water for 20 minutes
Place over high heat, bring to a boil, then turn the heat to low, so that it simmers softly.
Carefully skim the brownish foam off the water; an Asian style skimmer is very handy for this.
Add carrot, onion, head of garlic, celery stalk, salt, black peppercorns, bouquet garni
Simmer the broth for about 4 to 5 hours. Strain. If using immediately, skim the fat and season with salt to taste. Serve hot, or allow to cool and then refrigerate or freeze.
There are now many recipes and tips for making beat broths. One tip allows for retrieving the meat from the bones. After about 1 hour of simmering, move a chicken leg back and forth; if it is easy to move, the meat is cooked. To capture the meat for other dishes, remove the chicken from the pot and let cool. Pull off the meat and store in a container, adding some olive oil and a few spoonfuls of broth to keep it moist. Return the carcass to the pot for the remainder of the simmering.
Courses Breakfast, lunch, dinner