Monday, April 28, 2014

Chicken Stock and Dog Food

I know this says dog food, but I also make this for my cat!

About once a month I make a big pot of chicken stock and then, being the frugal little lady that I am, I use the leftovers to make dog food. This is so convenient because it totally eliminates any laziness excuse to not make your own dog food...or even your own stock really!

It starts by buying a whole chicken. Or two. You can just as easily cut the breasts off your chicken as you can buy pre-cut chicken breasts, and then use the carcass to make a chicken soup (all the leftover bits of meat will fall off into your soup. yummy!) or cut off the legs and wings and fry them, or you can cut of all the bits of meat and grind them to make meatballs or chicken nuggets. Whatever you want. Or you can just roast the entire chicken. The point is, buy a chicken, use 95% of the meat however you want, so you have a lovely carcass to boil.

Pop your chicken carcass in a stockpot, cover with water, add some salt and pepper, and begin boiling. You'll want to boil it for at least 4 hours. The longer the better. Skin off any foam that forms on the top.

After you feel like it's been long enough, let it cool, then put it in the freezer for about 2 hours. The fat will come to the top and solidify. Scrap it off. You can see there's still some white fat around the edges of mind. A little fat is ok.

Next, heat your stock until it's liquid, remove as much carcass as you can and put it in a bowl to cool. Strain remaining stock.

Once you have your lovely strained stock, I usually add a cup or two back into the bowl with the carcass. Your stock is complete! Now to work on the dog food:
Once the carcass has cooled, remove any bits of meat, cartillage, fat, skin, or large bones (this is usually just the drumsticks and breastbone). You can also include the spine if you'd like. All you should have left are small bones. Throw those away. 

Take your meat mixture and add in some vegetables. I have to really puree them to hide them from my dog, but yours may or may not be as picky. I usually just use whatever leftover vegetables I have in the fridge, sometimes adding in some frozen peas. If your vegetables have a sauce on them, rinse them off first.

Add in any supplements, like omega-3 pills, or Mullein tea for allergies like we do.

Allow this mixture to come to a boil and then add your "filler." I usually use barely or bran, but cornmeal and brown rice also work well. If I have any tiny amount of leftover or broken pasta I usually throw that in too. Let it cook until all liquid has been absorbed.

It doesn't look great but it should smell wonderful in your kitchen. Just be sure to let everyone know it's not stew, it's for the dog!

Finally you're done. You should have 4-6 qts of chicken stock and 6qts of dog food. For our medium sized dog, I will give him a cup 2-3 times a day. This is much more nutrient and energy dense than regular dog food.  When I serve it I include milk, cream, or some other kind of dairy, and occasionally will give him a raw egg cracked on top.

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