This simple broth is the cornerstone for many a delicious soup. Even though it involves an extra step browning the bones and vegetables it comes out perfectly clear and appetizingly brown. The trick is adding only enough water to barely cover the chicken.
6 pounds chicken backs, necks, or bones
1 medium-size onion, coarsely chopped
1 medium-size carrot, coarsely chopped
1 celery rib, chopped
About 4-1/2 quarts cold water or enough to cover
1 bouquet garni
1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Trim extra fat off the chicken parts and spread them in a heavy-bottomed roasting pan or large skillet with the chopped vegetables. Roast until they are well browned, usually 45 minutes to an hour. Do not let the bottom or the roasting pan burn.
2. Remove the roasting pan from the oven, transfer the chicken and vegetables to an 8- to 10-quart pot, and pour off or ladle off any grease in the bottom of the roasting pan. Discard the grease. Pour 2 cups water into the roasting pan and scrape the bottom with a wooden spoon to dissolve the juices adhering to the bottom.
3. Put the bouquet garni into the pot with the chicken and vegetables and pour over the contents of the roasting pan. Add the rest of the water or slightly more or less if necessary to barely cover the chicken parts. Heat over medium heat until the water comes to a simmer. Turn the heat down low enought to keep the broth at a slow simmer and cook for about 3 hours. Every 30 minutes, skim off any fat or froth that comes to the surface.
4. When the broth is done, strain itinto a clean pot or heat-resistant plastic container. Let it cool, uncovered, for an hour before putting it in the refrigerator. The next day, when the broth is cold, spoon off and discard any fat that has congealed on its surface.
From Splendid Soups, by James Peterson.
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