The Best of Both Worlds
Whenever I’m prepping food for the family, I’m always thinking about what I share and use with my pet’s food. Eating processed food entirely is not good for anyone, including our pets. Just remember if you stay under 10% of added food to a balanced diet you are not setting the diet off balance. So, I’ve gotten into a routine of making bone broth from the leftovers of a roasted chicken recipe that we eat weekly.
It’s so easy to pick up a rotisserie chicken and serve up a quick meal for the family, but it’s not necessarily the healthiest. Store bought rotisserie chickens are often infused with fat and broths with high salt content and added chemical preservatives. Commercial big box stores have anywhere from 460 to 690 mgs of salt per serving (a serving is considered ¼ chicken), with Whole Foods coming in at a modest 250 mg. When you consider that the daily recommended salt intake is 1,500 to 2,300 mg for heart health with the average American consuming 3,400 mg per day, that’s a lot! Many people add Rotisserie chicken to their pet’s food, and while the salt may not be significant for a young, healthy animal it could be more of a concern when there is heart or kidney disease.
Roasting a chicken at home is a delicious and economical way to nurture the family. It is also versatile in that the leftover meat can be used for so many things. But hold that thought! I know what you’re thinking: been there done that! I have to say although roasted chicken is in my regular rotation, I also get in a routine of making my bone broth in the Instant Pot (in a mere 2 hours). I use the nutrient-rich broth in soups and add it to my pet’s home-cooked food. It makes a nice addition to moisten kibble.
Air Fryer for the Win
Necessity is the mother of invention, so when my oven broke during the pandemic I was unable to do my weekly roasted chicken in the oven. The oven only needed a basic part and was not a costly repair, but the factory was closed! After 3 weeks of waiting I set my eyes on an air fryer. What was all the buzz about after all? I figured it was a gimmick and would probably be collecting dust once my oven was back. But then I roasted a chicken in the air fryer. It was the best chicken I had ever made, and better than any Rotisserie chicken I had ever tried. The outside was perfectly crispy and the inside flavorful and juicy. I will never go back to the oven roasted chicken unless I have to!
The only difference when you cook for your pets is that you need to use pet-safe seasonings. Baste the chicken with some olive oil and your choice of pet safe spices such as: thyme, rosemary, parsley, oregano, basil, turmeric, salt and pepper. Avoid granulated garlic and onion powder.
Follow your air fryer instructions for time and temperature and use a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the chicken to ensure doneness. My air fryer cooks at 360 degrees F for an hour and I turn the chicken over half way through.
After serving the chicken to the family you can add the gizzards, neck and carcass to make bone broth. Bone broth contains many nourishing elements for the joints, skin and gut. Remember that the leftover bones will be brittle and could splinter so dispose of them properly. A small amount of chicken skin added to your pet’s food is o.k. but adding too much fat laden skin can cause digestive upset. Just remember, if it’s not good for you, it’s not necessarily good for your pet.
Making Bone Broth from Your Roasted Chicken Leftovers
Bone broth is a nutrient-dense food that has a long tradition of being used for its remarkable healing benefits in recovery from illness, surgery, digestive issues, improving digestion, alleviating arthritis to name a few. Although there are numerous dehydrated recipes already out there where all you have to do is add water, a batch from scratch will gain the most benefits.
The only difference when making bone broth for your pets is that you exclude onions and garlic. A small amount would not be problematic for a large dog, but onion given to a smaller dog or cat could in very rare cases cause anemia. Instead add carrot, celery, beets or vegetable trimmings.
Pet-Safe Chicken Bone Broth
- 1 Leftover chicken carcass (can also add 2 chicken feet* or 1 split pig’s foot). I don’t care for thick gelatinous broth so use the remains of one carcass in this recipe.
- 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- A few celery, carrots and beets for flavor (avoid onions and garlic in pets but a small amount for a large dog would be o.k.) Not suitable for cats and small dogs to add garlic or onion.
- Cold water to cover one inch above the carcass
*If using chicken feet they may already come with the yellow membrane removed. If they are not already prepared rub them with salt and place them in boiling water for less than a minute. Place them immediately into an ice bath and peel off the yellow membrane.
Instant Pot recipe:
Place ingredients in 6 or 8 quart Instant Pot and set on manual for 2 hours. Remove the bones with a slotted spoon. Cool the broth and skim fat. Use for up to 5 days or freeze in ice cube trays or containers for several months.
You will need an 8 quart Instant Pot for larger recipes. You can also use the slow cooker function on the 8 quart Instant Pot to make broth for 12-24 hours. If you use the Instant Pot as a slow cooker make sure to leave it on vent. If using the Instant Pot as a pressure cooker the longest you can cook would be 2 hours. Let the pot vent naturally (20-30 minutes or longer). Remove the top when the pin has dropped and the Instant Pot has vented. Never touch the Instant Pot vent with your fingers or reach over it when venting as you could get a very bad burn. Use a long spatula to test that the recipe has vented. Give it more time if steam vents.
Slow cooker recipe:
Place the ingredients in the slow cooker (see above for how to use your Instant Pot as a slow cooker for broth) and cook on low for 12 to 24 hours. Remove bones and refrigerate until fat raises to the top. Use up to 5 days and freeze the rest in ice cube trays or small containers for several months.
Stove top recipe:
You can also make bone broth on the stove top. You will need to start early as it needs to simmer all day.
Place the bones, vegetables, and apple cider vinegar in a stock pot. Add cold water to cover the bones by 1 inch. Bring to a boil, then lower to simmer for 8 to 12 hours. Add more water as needed to keep the bones covered.
Remove from heat and allow to cool before removing the bones with a slotted spoon or strainer. Refrigerate and remove the fat that rises to the top (this is not absolutely necessary as sometimes there is not a lot of fat with chicken). Use for up to 5 days and freeze the rest for several months. Freeze in an ice cube tray or other container to thaw and add to food later.