Introduction: Crock Pot Chicken Stock
Making stock is similar to magic.
It makes me feel like a witch, to fill a pot with grubby old bits of veggies, animal bones, onion skins and dirty little mushrooms and end up with this delicious smelling bowl of pure nutrients. It turns garbage into some of the most handy, versatile, nutrient rich substances ever to bubble its way into a kitchen. It makes a few litres at a time and is great to have on hand in the freezer. It also has the added benefit of not being 10,000% of your recommended daily intake of sodium, unlike that stuff in the red & white carton.
Five Tips For a Clear Stock:
1. Always use cool water.
2. Don't bother bringing it up to a boil, this will agitate the bones and cause all kinds of murkiness. Just keep it at a slow, steady simmer, for as long as possible. This is why using a crock pot or slow cooker is perfect.
3. Avoid stirring, even initially. This causes all the impurities that are naturally making their way up to the surface to be skimmed off to combine right back into your stock.
4. Roast your bones. Roasting the chicken bones at 450F for 15-20 minutes until dark brown will help to keep your stock clear. It cooks any blood, renders out the fat and melts the collagen. It also makes for a darker, tastier finished product.
5. If you're being extra fussy, ladle the stock a bit at a time through your mesh strainer into a bowl, instead of pouring it through. This will keep any sediment at the bottom of the pot and give you a clearer stock.
Don't let rules discourage you, I usually only follow #1 and get a lovely, albeit not as aesthetically pleasing, stock.
Yield: 6 litres
Time: 20 mins prep, 8 hours cook time
Cost: Pretty much free
- Crock Pot / Slow Cooker, or a large, heavy bottomed pot
- Large bowl
- Colander lined with a tea towel or a mesh strainer
- 1 kg (2-3lbs) chicken bones, chopped into reasonably sized pieces
- 2 onions, quartered, skin on
- 1 carrot, rough chopped
- 2-3 stalks celery, rough chopped
- Any other veggie scraps you have on hand
- 2+ litres water
Throw bones into the pot, top with veggies. Add enough cool water to cover bones.
Let it simmer at least 2 hours. Overnight is best. Your stock will be at it's peak when you've leached every bit of goodness out of the bones and veggies so longer is better. You'll know it's done when the vegetables look gray-brown and sucked dry of life. That life is now in your stock!
My favourite way to make a soup stock is to put everything into your slow cooker and set it to low overnight. In the morning you'll wake up to a smell of deliciousness wafting through the house, and a perfect, clear soup stock.
Step 1: Roasty Toasty Bones
When I make a chicken dinner, I always hoard away the precious, precious chicken skeletons.
If you have a whole chicken, after taking it apart, keep the ribs and spines.
Roast these in the oven at 450 degrees on a tinfoil lined baking sheet.
Or just throw the bones into a pot or crock, fresh or frozen. If you have a butcher around you, they will usually sell you a bag of chicken bones for a buck or two.
You can see my Instructable on how to dismantle a whole chicken in five minutes here.
When your bones have roasted add them to the crock pot, making sure to scrap off any stuck on goodness. Pour any fat that has rendered out over your bones. I'm not a scientist but I figure the fat will help leech out any fat soluble vitamins hidden in the bones and veggies. Don't worry about the extra fat, when your stock has cooled you can skim it off late
Step 2: All About the Veg
Usually I keep a ziplock bag in the freezer that I add my veggie scraps to every night, and pull out on a night we have chicken.
The best things for a gentle flavour are celery, carrots and onions. As many as different kinds of onion you have, paper and all. But I also love to stick in the cut offs from leeks and the seeds and bits from bell peppers.
The only things that I leave out of a soup stock are tomatoes, spinach, asparagus, and garlic, as they tend to take over and can make the stock bitter, sour or a strange colour. I keep the herbs out of the stock and save them for when I'm making a proper soup, in case the flavours don't mesh.
However things that make your stock extra tasty without changing the flavour specifically are cheese rinds, mushrooms and the best of all potatoes! You can make yum stock solely from potato skins if you need a quick veggie stock.
Good For Stock:
- most vegetable scraps
- onions + skin
- potato skins
- dark green parts of leeks
- cheese rinds
- old mushrooms
- bell pepper seeds
- broccoli stalks
Not So Good For Stock:
- strong tasting vegetables
- brussel sprouts
- herbs, best saved for later
Step 3: Simmer Simmer
Fill your crock or pot with just enough cool water to cover the bones and vegetables.
Now this is the patient part. Let this simmer on low for as long as possible.
You can get away with only a couple of hours if you're in a rush, but with a stock, longer is better.
Just let it simmer away overnight, or all afternoon. Don't stir it, just let it do its thang.
A good marker to know when you're done when you peek in and all the vegetables have turned a dull grey-brown. As if a vampire has come along and sucked all their green out. That means all that life will be in your soup! Usually by this time it also means most of the good stuff like collagen and marrow have broken down in the bones as well.
Step 4: Strain and Chill
Set a mesh strainer, or a colander lined with a tea towel, over a large bowl.
For a clear stock, gently ladle the stock into the strainer.
If you're in a hurry, just dump it over into the strainer.
Its important at this point in time to get it straight into the fridge. There could be some worry about warm protein rich liquid, cooling down too slowly, and being a perfect environment for bacteria. If you're worried, you can add 2 or 3 cups of ice cubes to the bowl before you put it in your fridge. I have never had any issue with it, as long as you bring it up to a full rolling boil when you use it next, or freeze it, it will kill off any potential hazards.
Step 5: Schmaltz!
That layer of fat that is sealing your cooled stock like a lid is delicious schmaltz, or chicken fat. Carefully ladle it off the surface with a slotted spoon and save in a container. You can fry things like hash browns and chicken in it to the appreciation of everyone.
Its like an extra bonus surprise from your stock to say thanks for making me, friend, here, have some fat! Eat, and be merry.
Step 6: Make a Soup!
The nectar of life that is chicken stock!
Use it to make everything else better.
You can freeze it for up to 6 months.
Freeze it in an ice cub tray and toss in to stews.
Use it instead of water or wine to deglaze.
Better yet, make a soup! Soup is good food.