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I am a mom to twin boys, full-time employee of a telecommunications company and wife to a professional musician. I work, do yoga, cook and try to squeeze in DIY projects and spending time with friends.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Chicken Stock

At heart, I am a cheap frugal person. The concepts of recycle and reuse come naturally to me.  Why would I buy something when I can reuse what I have?  It's one of my personal challenges in paying for technology- with lifecycles so short, it's hard to justify the purchase!  Thankfully, I indulge my geeky side at work, so there's no reason for me (or my family) to go without.

This post is about the same thing, but in the kitchen.  You may already know you can make chicken broth from chicken bones.  But did you know you can do it in the slow cooker, using little energy and even less time?! 

It's true, it's true!

Making chicken stock on the stove is easy.  But making it in the slow cooker turns the process into something you can do at almost any time more stock is needed.  Bones and required veggies can be stored in the freezer, and retrieved whenever you have five minutes to set it all up. I put mine together after making breakfast today, and it's cooking away while I'm at work.  There's some messy work to done after the slow cooker part is complete, but it can be done in steps and over the course of a few days as needed. 

I used to chill the stock and remove the fat that congealed on top.  Lately though, I find that if I don't add chicken skin to the pot, the stock is relatively low fat and there's not much to skim.   Omitting the skin probably also lowers the salt content of the finished product, as so many store-bought rotisserie chickens are salty.  Yummy.... but salty.

Regardless of using skin in the pot or not,  I don't add salt to my stock.  Different recipes have different requirements, so I choose to add it to the finished product.  Consider that when you are tasting the stock at different stages.

Here's the process:

Chicken Stock
1 chicken carcass, or parts of different carcasses
2 carrots, with tops if available
1 leek, or the green part of 2 leeks, or an onion quartered and 2 stalks celery
1/4 tsp peppercorns
1/8 tsp whole cloves
5 sprigs parsley (carrot greens can substitute as needed)

1. Load all into the slow cooker and cover with water.  Put on the cover, turn on to low and leave it all day, 8-10 hours.

2. When you get home, take the cover off and turn up to high for an hour  (or more)... this allows some liquid to cook off, and intensifies the flavor.

3.  Turn off the slow cooker, and leave to cool.  (I leave mine covered on the counter all night.  I'm sure food safety experts would be aghast-- feel free to put it in the fridge instead.  The stock will jell and you'll need to let it come to room temperature again before continuing with step 4).

4.  Next, remove the solids.  I use a slotted spoon and dump them right into the trash.   Then take out the trash.

5.  Strain the stock using a sieve to remove peppercorns, cloves and other debris you couldn't lift out.  If you are an overacheiver, strain through cheesecloth for clearer stock.

6. Chill the resulting liquid overnight in the fridge if you wish to remove the fat--  or skip this step.

7.  Decant it into smaller containers, and store in the freezer until needed. 

Most batches of this recipe (4 quart crock pot, 10 cups water) yield at 6 cups of stock.  I freeze it in four and one cup containers, so I always have the right amount available for a recipe.

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