Save the Planet

I am all about chicken broth. In fact, my Penicillin recipe was one of my earlier blog posts. I have prepared it regularly since learning how. I made it after reading an extraordinary book that encourages cooks to recycle everything in the kitchen. Next up is to master matzoh balls but all in good time. Call me crazy but I love nothing more than buying an organic bird, nestling it in the base of a massive pot and surrounding it with vegetables, odd ends from past cooking exercises and fresh herbs. I also include a stick of cinnamon, some star anise and a chili if I am feeling it. I cover my prized ingredients with water and give the mix a generous few shakes of kosher salt along with a dollop of good quality extra virgin olive oil. Carefully, I bring my bounty to a furious boil and let it simmer for hours, filling our home with the expectancy of an outstanding meal to come.

Once skimmed and drained, I am left with a rich, flavorful broth. Next, I carefully strip the bird until I am the sole owner of the envied sections of poached chicken. My weapons now loaded, I can fire accordingly. Chicken on its own or with salsa verde or perhaps mixed with mayonnaise, celery, flat leaf parsley and toasted almonds for sandwiches. Terrific for tacos or enchiladas or to be thrown on top of salad, which is my personal favorite for a work lunch. You can mix the chicken with beans or roasted fennel. Get creative. To the golden broth I add lentils or cooked beans and a medley of vegetables of which cauliflower and a variety of greens are my favorite. Dandelions, kale, Swiss chard and sometimes spinach. Other times I have added the chicken back along with chopped carrots, celery, flat leaf parsley and quinoa noodles for a proper, hearty soup. You can use the stock to prepare rice, risotto or other grains. Mix it with other ingredients to take sauces to the next level. Homemade chicken broth will liven up any recipe for mashed potatoes, chicken dumplings and even gravy. If counting calories, you can use your broth to sauté or steam fresh vegetables as well as to stir fry whatever wets your whistle. Drink it directly out of a mug if you fancy!

Recently, I noticed that the gallon Ziploc bag of vegetable odd ends I keep in the refrigerator or sometimes freezer for such a meal was on the cusp of bursting. Prizes included yellow and purple onion heads, leek leaves, carrot knobs, the stems of some unidentifiable greens, celery ends as well as cauliflower and broccoli stalks. I had four packets of fresh herbs that were taking up valuable space and needed consuming. Together, all these ingredients were begging for a hot bath. Minus the chicken and plus a few other goodies, I decided to try my hand at vegetable stock. The end result was a savory, smooth broth infused with serious flavor and ready for manipulation. You can throw whatever you want into the mix. It is literally a one pot wonder, add the kitchen sink type adventure. Once finished, we savored every drop of our homemade vegetable stock with as much gusto as we do the chicken variety. As last month was the one for celebrating our planet, let's stretch it a day into May and make a meal out of recycled fixings.

Homemade Vegetable Stock
Inspired by Food52


My gallon bag supplemented with other goodies included:

1 hearty broccoli stalk, half a red onion, half a yellow onion, 1 leek chopped, 4 carrots chopped, 4 stalks of celery chopped, 1 bunch of curly kale, 4 cloves of garlic unpeeled, 1 large fennel bulb chopped, 1 inch of peeled ginger, 1 TBS peppercorns, 4 bay leaves, a bunch of fresh thyme, a bunch of fresh tarragon, a bunch of fresh sage, 3 inch Parmesan rind, 1 dried red chili, 1 TBS red pepper flakes, 1 TBS fennel seeds, 1 glug of olive oil and 1 splash of Vermouth (on hand for when my father is in town and requests a martini)


1. Throw everything and then some into the pot. Cover with water. Salt generously. Bring to a boil, lower to simmer, half covered for three hours. Once this time has elapsed, strain the vegetables and discard. Add a splash of Vermouth or white wine, a glug of olive oil and season to taste.

2. I refrigerated our broth overnight and the next day, threw in one head of chopped cauliflower and 4 cups of spinach. Again, I brought to a boil and lowered to a simmer until the cauliflower was soft. The world is your oyster with this broth. You can dress it up any way you see fit and do with it what you choose.

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