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Build your freezer stash with this simple chicken stock recipe

Roasted chicken broth can be the base for

Roasted chicken broth can be the base for a soup or an afternoon pick-me-up. Credit: Marge Perry

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Your cupboard is filled with disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer, and your brain, perhaps, with nagging anxiety. Now is the time to feed your freezer (and soul) with incredibly useful, anxiety-soothing, homemade broth.

With very little hands-on time, you can stock up (yep, I went there) with the basis of an endless array of soups, the underpinning of many a great sauce, and the world’s most comforting midafternoon refresher. Roasted chicken broth is all that and more. In these times, I like to think of it as a multi-tasking soup-and-sanity-saver.

There is something pacifying about the process of making this broth. It takes hours, yes, but very little hands on time. Precision doesn’t matter: cut the vegetables in rough chunks, and all will be well. It works its magic as it simmers away on the stove, filling your house with the comforting aroma of home cooking.

The extra step of roasting the chicken before simmering is not absolutely necessary, but it imbues the broth with a deeper, richer, and somewhat toasty flavor. For lighter, more subtle flavor, simply proceed with the recipe without roasting. For sweeter broth, use more carrots and perhaps a parsnip or two; for more intense flavor, allow the broth to simmer longer, or strain it and boil the liquid down to the desired flavor intensity.

Add salt just before using the broth for soup, sauce or to drink. This allows you to adjust the saltiness based on other ingredients.

Here are a few of my favorite uses for Roasted Chicken Broth:

•    Afternoon respite: in the afternoon, add a pinch of salt to the broth, heat (in the microwave or on the stove) and drink out of a mug.

•    Classic chicken soup: use this as the foundation of your favorite soup recipe. The end result will have a warmer, richer flavor.

•    Matzo ball soup: Many versions of this soup get their flavor from salt and bouillon. Roasted broth gives matzo ball soup flavor and body with far less salt (and no need for other flavoring agents).

•    Sauce: when making dishes with pan sauces, (Chicken Piccata, for example), use your homemade broth in place of canned for deeper flavor.

ROASTED CHICKEN BROTH

6 to 7 pounds chicken backs (or any combination of wings and backs)

5 medium carrots, peeled and cut in 1-inch chunks

10 celery stalks, chopped in 1-inch pieces

2 medium onions, coarsely chopped

6 sprigs fresh parsley

5 sprigs fresh thyme

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place the chicken backs (or backs and wings) on 2 sheet pans and roast 35 minutes until lightly browned. Transfer to an 8-quart pot.

2. Add the carrots, celery, onion, parsley and thyme to the pot and fill it to the brim with water. (As you fill the pot, move the chicken around a bit to allow it to seep all the way down.) Bring it to a boil, and immediately reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Simmer 4 hours.

3. Allow the soup to cool slightly in the pot. Use a slotted spoon to remove the solids. (You can place the solids in a large strainer or colander and press down on them to eke out all the liquid into a bowl. Return that liquid to the pot.)

4. Once the soup has cooled, transfer it to a smaller pot and refrigerate several hours or overnight. The fat will form a solid layer on the top: skim it off and discard it.

5. Keep the broth refrigerated for up to 5 days or freeze it for several months in airtight containers. Makes approximately 12 cups.

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