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Kitchen 101: Crockpot Chicken Stock

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Last Kitchen 101 post showed us the method traditionally used to make a chicken stock. I  can hear what most people jump to when they see a post like that – “I just don’t have time to spend fussing over something as complicated as that.”

Once the freezer is full of bones, and they are flying out at you when you open the door, it's time to make a stock.

That statement blows my mind. Mind you, I am a chef by trade, so most of my lessons in the kitchen began in a “professional” establishment. I have no problem spending a day skimming a sauce, or preparing pasta from scratch. It’s fun for me.

Thing is, I don’t normally slave over a preparation, unless there is a need for it. In the case of my post on stock, there is one skimming, (in the beginning,) that’s it. It’s easier that way. I am not a person to fuss over a preparation. I like things to take care of themselves, with a minimum of hassle.

This recipe is the answer to that. With around 30 total minutes of actual kitchen time, you can have your beautiful stock. The trick is to set it, and (almost) forget it. It will take a good 20 hours, but the results are worth it. Best yet, it can be set overnight before bed for the first step, then the second step can be done before you head off to work. Once you get home, your stock is ready to be strained.

Before We Begin

Before we start, let’s recap some previous posts for a head start on today’s task.

  • Butchering a chicken. Once you have your chicken cut up, use the carcass for the stock – the perfect way to stretch your dollar. If you don’t have a chicken to cut up, the bones from a demolished roasted chicken will work fine.
  • Secret Laws of Stock Making. We will be following those concepts here shortly.
  • Check out the traditional method for making the chicken stock here.

Making Chicken Stock in the Crock-Pot

Ingredients:

  • 1 chicken (or turkey) carcass (about 2 lbs.)
  • 1 gallon (4 liters) cold water
  • 2 teaspoon cup white wine vinegar (or red wine if you prefer.)
  • 1 small sized onion, peeled, chopped into 1 inch slices
  • 1 carrot, peeled, cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 1 rib of celery, chopped into 1 inch chunks
  • 1/2 inch of ginger, sliced in half
  • 1/2 bulb garlic, chopped in half
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1/4 bunch thyme

Method:

i01010Here we are pulling a bunch of bones from the freezer. This is my main tip; save those roasted chicken or turkey carcasses. Once they start flying out of the freezer door at you, it’s time to make stock.

i01012Get the main tools needed for stock making in the crockpot. This is all you are going to need. A crockpot, and some bones.

i01014Fill the crockpot, pack the bones in there. The manufacturer suggests that the crock pot not be filled past the 3/4 mark. As you can see here, I totally ignored that. I would find out later the impact of that decision.

i01016Add cold water. Make sure the water is cold! The reason for that is the cold water softens the gelatin for better extraction. If you put hot water in there, you will make your life harder here. See the Secret Laws of Stock Making.

i01018Add a splash of vinegar, cover, and set for 10 hours of cooking.The vinegar helps the extraction of the calcium in the bones. It also makes the stock taste a bit more acidic, which brightens the flavor a bit more.

i01020Cut the Aromatics for chicken stock. We have here carrots, celery, onion, garlic, and ginger. These are known as aromatics. Keep the vegetables large, so they don’t break down while the stock is simmering. Some people will argue that carrots don’t belong in a stock. The choice is personal. I like carrots. So there.

i01022Add bay leaf, peppercorn, and thyme. The thyme is dried, but fresh will work well if need be.

i01028After 10 hours, add the vegetables, cover, and set on low for another 10 hours. You don’t add the vegetables until later because they would just turn to mush and discolor your stock.

i01024See – it’s too full, and you can see that the liquid spilled out. I learned my lesson… it was too full, and I lost at least 2 cups of awesome goodness. You can tell the stock is fantastic by how long it takes to get the paper towel off the stove. Gelatin is a great glue. You heard it here first!

i01030Finished stock – look at the loveliness. After 20 hours of very slow cooking, your house will smell fantastic, the kids will ask what you are making, and you will be ready for the next step.

i01034Set up a strainer, grab some oven mitts, and strain the mixture. Make sure you pull the works slowly so you don’t have your bones and vegetables falling into your strained stock.

i01040Throw out your waste. Be sure to double bag the waste – it will be hot!

i01042Here is what the strained liquid looks like. Now, you aren’t going to win a culinary competition with this stock – but the gelatin content is second to none!

i01044Here you can see I only get about 3 quarts (liters) worth here. That’s because I lost at least 2 cups on the stove from filling the crockpot too much. This recipe should give you at least 3 liters in the end.

 

Conclusion

Okay, so that is how you can make your stock hands-off. A little bit of work, (around a 1/2 hour worth,) will get you a nutrient-rich stock for pennies compared to a purchased broth. I’ve shown you that it can be done with a minimum of work, so get to it – show me what you can do with it!

Your Turn!

So, what do you think of this hands-off method of creating stock? Which method do you prefer, the traditional way, or this hands-off approach? Let me know in the comments!

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