The perils of homemade chicken broth

Or, How to Get Your Kitchen Clean on a Leisurely Sunday Afternoon.

1. Collect a bunch of eggs from your chickens and pop them in an incubator.

2. Watch the chickies hatch.

3. Feed the Chicken Littles till they become Chicken Bigs.

4. Kill them.

5. Several months later, pull two of them—now Chicken Chillies—from the freezer and set them on the counter to thaw overnight.
6. The following morning, nestle them in your glass-lidded, sixteen-quart stock pot and boil them till the meat falls off the bones.
7. De-bone the chicken, returning all nonedible parts to the stockpot.
8. Boil the bones till bedtime. Turn off the pot and go to bed.
9. Boil the bones in the morning. Turn off the pot and go to church.
10. Boil the bones after returning from church.
11. Settle the kids for rest time and head into the newly arranged downstairs room to visit (no funny stuff) with your husband.
12. Talk, chaw on Starbursts and Swedish fish, munch on naked pita chips, and talk some more. Contemplate taking a snooze.
14. Sit bolt upright and then freeze, straining your ears. Say, “Hon, you better check on that,” and then hightail it out of the room after your hubby.
15. Reach the kitchen and screech to a halt. Do NOT enter the kitchen. It is wet and hot, covered in bones and fat.

16. Take a few seconds to be confused. You have never seen this situation before. Disorientation is allowed in cases like these.

17. Your husband says, “The pot exploded.” Absorb this.
18. Note that the lid, after rocketing into the air, landed on the stove top and did not break. Count your lucky stars.
19. Note that the explosion somehow turned on your husband’s cell phone. Also note that there is broth pouring out of the innards of the house phone.
20. Note (there’s a lot to note) that the now broth-coated counter that is usually mounded high with papers was devoid of nearly all paraphernalia (minus the phones) at the moment of explosion. Count your lucky stars again. They are few in number, so this is an easy task.
21. Note that no child/adult was present. There are no burns or injuries. This is a very large, shinning lucky star.

22. Whimper.
23. Moan.
24. Giggle.
25. When your husband says, “Where is the camera?” go fetch it, for he almost never suggests that you take pictures.
26. After splashing through the greasy broth to capture the chaos from different angles, snatch some dirty towels from the laundry, fill up buckets with hot water, step out of your Sunday skirt, and start scrubbing the floors in your blouse and panties.
27. Ignore your husband when he tries to make you nervous by rapping his knuckles on the door frame.
28. Mix copious amounts of hot water and soap with the oily broth and slip-slide your way around the kitchen, scooping up bones and fatty skin as you go.
29. When the worst has been cleaned up, get the kids up from rest time, pop them in the car, and drive them into town. (Don’t forget to step into the tub to wash up your feet and put your skirt back on first.) Drop them off at a birthday party and head to a café to write, drink coffee, and eat a strawberry scone. This allows you to gain perspective and gives your husband space to finish cleaning up the kitchen (which includes taking the top off the stove to mop up the large pool of broth that has collected there, as well as taking apart the phone to try—to no avail—to fix the answering machine).
30. Return home and sigh happily over the spotless kitchen.
31. Listen as your husband solemnly accounts for the cost of this particular pot of broth: a new answering machine and a new cell phone. Ouch.
32. Make a mental note to never, ever, ever boil broth without first cracking the lid.
33. Unless you are desperate to clean your kitchen. If you are desperate to clean your kitchen, then this is definitely the way to go. It produces an element of … pressure.
34. But there are easier ways, ways that don’t kill your answering machine, cell phone, and your Sunday afternoon in one fell swoop.

About one year ago: Sticking my neck out. Speaking of butchering chickens…


  • PrincessWilly

    This was actually a very rare instance in brothmaking: nucleation of superheated liquid!

    It usually happens when reheating cool broth – the surface tension of cold broth (especially with lots of oil atop it) is very high – it's hard for the small bubbles that accompany the changing of the water's phase from liquid to gas to penetrate it – thus it pools under the surface as each small bubble finds itself unable to break free. Eventually, they all meet eachother in the middle, forming a bigger and bigger bubble…until it's able to meet a spot where it can burst forth – this can be an imperfection in the smooth side of the pan, a piece of bone sticking out, or can even just be enough gas to finally break through the surface.

    Your best bet is to give a big, fat target for gas to break the surface tension – usually a few bones are sticking out does the trick, or if you're really worried, leave a wooden spoon in the pot.

  • Camille

    VERY FUNNY post…as usual you have a way with words! BUT…I am so sorry for you that your broth ended up on the floor and everywhere else rather than staying in the pot! AND…I am sorry you had that MESS to clean up! What a way to learn a lesson! Thanks for sharing your wisdom with us! 🙂

  • Anonymous

    The broth residue gunked as it cooled, sealing the lid's edges. Then the reheating liquid deep in the bowels flatulated massively. This seems scientific enough for me. sk

  • Cookie baker Lynn

    Wow, what a story. My very favorite part, though, is the dead chicken with feet in the air. The grittier side of homeschooling.

  • Kris

    I'm not educationally qualified to answer the question of why this happened, but my guess is that the explosion was caused by cooling then reheating the pot. When hot stuff cools, it contracts, just as canning jars suck in their lids to seal them when cooling. Your pot's lid sealed well when it cooled. For some reason, when you reheated the pot, it wouldn't allow steam to escape quickly enough and the lid was blown off by the increasing pressure of expanding air inside. Perhaps your broth had boiled down enough that the quantity inside heated so quickly as to cause a very rapid heating and expansion…and explosion.

    I suggest letting it simmer continuously for 20-24 hours rather than turning it off and on again whenever you leave the house. HOWEVER, only do this if you have a thick-bottomed pot (this will enhance heat distribution with less burner heat) AND have tried it at least once while at home the whole time. I don't know how well this would work on a gas stove, as mine is electric. I find it quite pleasant (though somewhat disorienting) to wake up to, or arrive home to, the comforting aroma of chicken broth.

    But that explanation doesn't tell us why it happened this time and not all the other times you have boiled broth with no explosions… Maybe it was the weather? (Extra low humidity, thunderstorm, lightening strike…???)

  • Anonymous

    I was so hoping you would blog about this soon! I just had to have the pictures to fully appreciate the story! I stuck to making bread today! I think I will make some tortillas too, but no broth!
    L in Elkton

  • It's me ...Mavis


    "The pot exploded"… I didn't know you were married to a rocket scientist.

    Holy crackers that was funny…

  • Unknown

    I'm so glad no one was injured! That's scary.
    Tim made your pancake recipe yesterday. It
    was well received by all 🙂 Kim

  • @RoseMillsOhio

    I am now following you on twitter because I don't want to miss any of your future advent….er…mis-adventures. (Though, for your sake, I hope you never have to write the words "oily broth" again, much less clean them up.)

    Love that you were able to find the humor in such a vexing situation. Thanks for sharing it!

  • Anonymous

    What in the world!?!
    Was this a pressure cooker?
    Or did it just boil over? but no, all the bones and stuff…
    Maybe you better ask your aunt V about the roasting them in the oven method. and maybe I will too….

    I mourn the loss of all that marvelous broth.


  • Margo

    holy cow! I like to put stock in my crockpot overnight – but I don't think the lid is very tight. Now I'll probably lie awake fretting, thinking of your mess.
    shoooooweeeeeee. what a mess. I held my breath waiting for you to put your skirt on before you left! I guess I worry about your skirts ever since the hole-in-the-skirt episode.

  • You Can Call Me Jane

    Oh my word. How did that happen?! I boil stuff (including broth) in my large pot with the lid fully on. Now I'm nervous. I'm so glad no one was hurt…lucky stars my foot. That's enough to get me to start singing a praise song (I prefer hymns).

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