Monday, March 16, 2009

Homemade Chicken Stock in a Crock Pot

Recently I have been experimenting with whole chicken recipes with some successes and some failures.  More on those soon.  However, this has left me with more leftover chicken bones than usual.  I have made chicken stock before in a big pot over the stove with wings, backs, etc.  But could I put everything in a crockpot before work, and come home to a delicious homemade stock?  Answer:  yes!


I recently read about the difference between stock and broth on another food blog -- The Perfect Pantry.  I had always wondered about the difference between the two.  Food Network also states that stock is created by simmering bones in water, and broth is made from simmering meat.  Well, I think that is a pretty good way to look at since stock is so much richer/thicker due its gelatinous nature.  (You'll see when it is completely cool -- for new cooks don't worry, when it is heated it melts into a beautiful soup base again.)

I keep a gallon size zip lock freezer bag in the freezer for chicken scraps until I have enough to make a batch of chicken stock.  If you have ever bought a rotisserie chicken from the store, after deboning the chicken, put all the scraps in a freezer bag and you almost have enough for stock right there.  (This was a huge discovery for me -- I always thought that the chicken scraps needed to be uncooked). Sometimes I can find a package of chicken backs for just a few dollars or I will purposely buy chicken breast on the bone and debone it for the breast fillet that I need (see video here), saving the bones in my freezer bag for stock.  When you accumulate the bones of one whole chicken and a couple of backs or bones from a couple of chicken breasts you have enough for stock.   I love the fact that there is  a use for leftover roasted chicken bones, especially when every shopping dollar counts, and the result is a fantastic rich tasting stock.


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Homemade Chicken Stock in a Crock Pot

Bones from a whole roasted chicken plus parts (4 wings, 2 backs, or 2 breast bones with skin)
1 onion quartered with onion skin
1 carrot or a few baby carrots
3 celery stalks with leaves (the center most part of a bunch of celery is perfect)
6 whole peppercorns
1 bay leaf
8 to 9 cups of water (or as much water as the crock pot will hold)

1) Place all of the ingredients in a crock pot and set on low for 6-8 hours
2) Drain liquid into a large container using a colander and throw away all bones, scraps and vegetables
3) Strain the liquid again through a couple of layers of cheese cloth and place the strained liquid in a covered container overnight in the refrigerator
4) The next day, after skimming the top layer of fat off, the stock is ready to be used, for a batch of soup, frozen in a large container, or frozen in 1/2 cup or 1 cup containers for future use in rice, risotto or pretty much any recipe that calls for broth

More resources for homemade stock:
Simply recipes on homemade chicken stock
Bon Appetit on homemade chicken stock
Kalyn's Kitchen on homemade chicken stock (a girl after my own heart when it comes to stock)

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