November 18, 2015
Slow Cooker Chicken Stock
Adding a parmesan cheese rind and using homemade stock are two of my favorite ways to make a a soup go from good to really good. The parmesan rind brings the perfect saltiness and some creaminess to the soup (and can you ever go wrong with a hint of cheese in a soup?). Homemade stock is the base to the soup, and it is so more rich in flavor. The canned and boxed stocks from the store, as convenient as they may be, lack the flavor profiles that you'll find in homemade stock.
Making your own chicken stock is very simple, especially when you use your slow cooker. You can just put chicken bones, vegetables, herbs, and water in the slow cooker. I think it is pretty impossible to mess it up. It tastes so much better than store-bought stock, and you get to control what goes in it.
You don't always have to go out and buy all the ingredients needed for stock. Use leftovers for this stock! When I say "use leftovers," I mean to use those vegetables hanging out in your veggie drawer that you know you aren't going to eat. 3 pounds of carrots and 8 bunches of celery for healthy snacks sounded like a better snack at the store, right? ;) Just kidding. You can also use your leftover roast chicken to make stock.
Some general tips for DIY chicken stock:
1. Make a vegetable bag. Throw random vegetable pieces, onion ends, the last bit of a carrot, onion peels, etc. into a bag and freeze it. When the bag is full, make stock. I would not use potatoes because it will add too much starch to the stock, and you may not want to use peppers, unless you are looking for a kick. ;)
2. Get the most out of that rotisserie chicken! Often times, it's cheaper to buy one of those cooked
rotisserie chickens from the store compared to buying a raw chicken and roasting it yourself. On Wednesday's, Whole Foods has rotisserie chickens on sale for $8.99 on Wednesday's, and Costco has them for $4.99. After you finish eating the chicken, save the carcass (which you can freeze), and use it to make stock.
3. Roasting brings out more flavor. I roast beef bones when making bone broth/beef stock because it brings out more flavor. I found that a leftover chicken carcass from a roasted chicken brought more flavor to the stock than using use a raw chicken. To deepen the flavor, you could even roast the chicken carcass from the leftover roast chicken.
4. Cook it, real good and real slow! With the slow cooker, it is so much easier to make stock because the slow cooker does all the work. You can make stock in a stock pot over the stove, but I never like to stray too far from the stove, and leaving the stove on for hours doesn't seem as efficient to me. Often times, I'll throw everything into the slow cooker in the evening and then the stock is ready in the morning.
5. There are many ways to store it! If I'm not going to use the stock within a few days, then I freeze it. Most of the time, I use old 32 oz. Greek yogurt containers to store stock and sometimes glass mason jars. If you don't have containers, you could also use 1 quart freezer bags. If you use the freezer bags, freeze them flat because then you can just dip them in hot water for quick defrosting. You could also freeze stock in ice cube trays or muffin pans, too.
I'm including my way of making chicken stock below, but just use it as a guide! The key things you need are chicken, water, and veggies. I think onions, carrots, celery, and garlic bring those classic comfort flavors, but you could try other veggies like parsnips or even fennel. If you don't have fresh herbs on hand, you can skip them or even use tried versions, too.
Slow Cooker Chicken Stock
Yields 64 oz. of stock
Ingredients: 1 chicken carcass (2-4 lbs.)
4 carrots, chopped
4 celery stalks, chopped
2 yellow onions, chopped
6 quarts of water
6 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup fresh thyme
1/4 cup fresh dill
1/4 cup fresh parsley
3 bay leaves
2 tsp. peppercorns
Salt, to taste
Place the chicken carcass in the slow cooker, and scatter the vegetables around the chicken. Then, add the bay leafs, herbs, peppercorns, and any desired salt. Cover with water.
Cook on low setting for 8 to 14 hours. Strain the stock over a large bowl.
Divide the stock among storage containers. Cool before refrigerating and/or freezing.
Source: A Simply Sweet Justice Original