Organic chicken Bouillon Tutorial
Living in the land of hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup and GMO's, I have learned to make a whole lot more homemade stuff than I ever did when I lived in Europe. I have been making my own bullion for a while now, and I gave some to one of my friends around thanksgiving. Since then, she has been asking me to show her how to make it, so this morning we all gathered in E's kitchen and made some chicken bouillon. I will try to give you a quick breakdown of the recipe, but remember that I am Italian and that we do use the metric system. If you need a converter, just do a quick google search and you can switch my grams into either cups, oz or whatever you find yourself more comfortable with. Also keep in mind that the following recipe is what I use when I make my own. E did not want that much so we halved the recipe (hence the small jars you see in the last photo). When I make it with the following recipe I end up with nearly 2 quart-size mason jars full of bouillon. For me that's ok, cause I use this thing in nearly everything I made (and I gift some too) but you may want to start with half that amount and just keep an eye out on the ingredient's ratio.
Ingredients:800 gr organic chicken (I use deboned thighs or drums WITH skin...I know skin is gross, but we are trying to go for flavor here...if you use chicken breasts your bouillon will taste like, um.... chicken water! LOL)
200 gr carrots peeled
200 gr zucchini squash
100 gr onion peeled (red or white, whatever is your preference)
100 gr leak (make sure you wash this really well as it is a sandy bugger. If you don't know how to clean a leak just look it up on youtube. Plenty of videos for you to peruse.)
100 gr celery stalks (you can use the leaves too)
1-2 garlic cloves (peeled)
10 leaves of fresh sage
1 sprig of fresh rosemary (stem removed)
1/4 of a cup of white wine (you can substitute with tomato paste melted in water, or just water)
500 gr salt (coarse sea salt would be preferable, but regular salt will do too.)
2 bay leaves
If you have a chunk of REAL parmesan cheese (ie. Grana Padano or Parmigiano Reggiano) you can carefully cut off the crust, scrape it with a knife to clean it, and add it to the vegetables.
So here we go, I like to begin with all my 'mise en place' (the fancy French way to say: line up all your ingredients first!). Whenever I can't find deboned meat, I debone it myself. E was on top of things and had it deboned for me already (I love those efficient I-talians! ^__^ ) so, all I had to do was cut it in bite size chunks. Then came the veggies. I always take care of my leak first. He is the fussy type. I sliced off the roots and cut it crosswise on the white stalk, and then I washed, washed, washed. When no more sand was visible, I trimmed just a bit off the top of the green leaves and chopped and used ALL the rest (I hate waisting food and, the green part is just as good for you as the white part!). Then I chopped all the rest of the vegetables up into bite size chunks.
I didn't take a picture of the chicken chunks as they looked like, um....skin-on chicken chunks. LOL. You'll get a chance to see them later during assembly. I weighed everything on my digital scale to make sure I got all my ratios right. The percentages are: 1 part chicken, 1 part veggies and 1 part salt. Easy peasy! Now that I had all my stuff ready, it was time to start assembling. A non stick pan is what I prefer to use teflon, but E's looked more like an enamel pot, and it worked just as fine! I assembled all my ingredients COLD. It's hard to see from the photo but, there is a layer of salt on the bottom of the pot. Too bad it's white on white. LOL. But it's there, trust me.
After that, I layered in my chicken chunks. See? They look just like skin-on chicken chunks. LOL
One more layer with the veggies, the herbs (rosemary, sage and bay leaf) and the wine.
Ok, now it was time to start cooking. I put a lid on the pot and turned the stove on LOW.
A few minutes later (maybe 10-15) I checked for the cooking juices to appear. You may see them here. The salt was doing its job and releasing the water contained in both meat and veggies. Good, that was my clue that I could now turn the heat up to medium and wait for it to simmer.
A few minutes later my pot was simmering to a boil. At this point I stirred all the ingredients well and then returned the heat to medium low (#2 on E's stove). I made sure, every now and then, that the mixture kept a slow boil. You need to keep it bubbling slightly the entire time.
About 1 and a 1/2 hours later this is what my "pot o' goodies" looked like! Lots of juice and all the salt melted. Almost done. Hang on tight.
I removed the 2 bay leaves and then, the entire content of the pot made it's way into the food processor where I pulsed the mixture into a cream (do not attempt to use a smoothies blender, it will not work. An immersion blender however works just fine).
And this was the result of our labour of love. The halved recipe yielded 4 half pint jars and a little. At this point we were done. The bouillon keeps either in the freezer (won't solidify) or fridge for months. The high salt content does not allow for bacteria to grow. So it's safe to keep for a long time. If one would prefer to have a granulate, dry bouillon, it would be as easy as getting out a cookie sheet, lining it with parchment paper and spreading the pureed mixture flat and thin over it. Then insert it in a warm oven, and wait for the puree to become a solid crust. The crust can then be broken, when cooled, and re-blended once again to obtain a powder. The bouillon can then be stored in your spice cabinet.
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A teaspoon of this homemade goodness equals about one "cube" of industrial bouillon. Beef meat can be substituted for the chicken meat, and off course meat can be left out all together to make a vegetarian version.
Well? Are you wondering where the mistake is this time? LOL. I can tell you where it is...it's on the assembly part. Every other time I make this, my layers are salt, veggie, meat. Do you see where I am going now? Yes, I inverted the last two layers...and guess what? It was just fine. So see? Nothing is ever perfect and even if you make a small mistake it's no biggie. Chances are the final result will still be great! Now go out there, and have fun! :)