Last night, I made 2 gallons of chicken broth using 2 chickens from Shuttleworth Farm, an armful of mixed herbs (sage, lovage, thyme, rosemary, winter savory, and parsley), the tops of many leeks, a handful of carrots, some onions, bay leaf, peppercorn, and salt. I let everything cook very slowly on medium to low heat in a big stock pot for about 3 hours. The key is to never let anything boil...that is what makes the chiken rubbery and the broth cloudy (I am sure there are some food science explanations, I am merely going from experience.) I strained the broth, let it cool and filled up empty yogurt containers for the freezer (leaving a few inches of head space since liquids expand when they freeze). The broth is a rich golden, green color and will be pulled out whenever I want to make a quick soup using whatever ingredients are around during the winter. I reserved one of the cooked chickens for last night's dinner, more on that below; and with the other bird, I took all of the meat off the bone and it will go into chicken salads and such for the rest of the week. I think using two whole birds makes such a rich broth, but it does leave a lot of meat to use up.
For dinner, I saved about a half gallon of broth, placed it in a 7 qt pot and added whole peeled carrots, potatoes, and leeks (white part only, carefully trimmed and washed). I let the broth and veggies come to a gentle boil, and waited about 40 minutes. I served this in shallow bowls with a parsley salad, and good sea salt. In France, there is usually dijon mustard as a condiment with this, but I am all out right now. This is one of my favorite fall and winter meals, along with some of the poached chicken, a sort of reconstructed chicken soup. In French it is called Poule au Pot. (Hen in Pot). It is the poultry cousin to Pot au Feux, (Pot on Fire) which is made with beef -- brisket, short ribs, chuck. And uses the same method described above. Using fresh vegetables cooked in strained broth is preferable eating the vegetables that have simmered in the stock pot for a few hours thus becoming a wee bit mushy.
Herb Salad is the perfect accompaniment to so many things. Parsley is probably my favorite.
2 cups chopped parsley
3 scallion, washed and chopped finely
Juice from 1/2 a lemon
1 TBS good olive oil
Sea salt to taste
Mix everything together. Let sit about 20 minutes before serving so that the flavors combine.