One of the keys to great cooking is to be able to add depth and flavor to your dishes. Stock and broth can help you do this. Although I use beef stock often, I would say that I use poultry stock three times as much.
Aside from using stock/broth for soups, sauces and gravies, I add it to water to for boiling pasta or making rice, to mashed potatoes, and I use it for sauteing when oil or butter isn’t desired. The possibilities are limitless.
And since I started making my own cream of something soup mix to cook with, chicken stock just moved up on my list of pantry staples.
I don’t know when was the last time you bought canned or broth in a carton, but if it isn’t around the holiday season, it can get pricey. For the last few years, I would use the turkey carcass from Thanksgiving to make stock and freeze it, but when it was gone, it was gone. And when I received an order of chicken breast from Zaycon Foods, I would save the broth from baking. Again, when it was gone, it was gone.
About a year ago, in an effort to cut costs and start cutting out processed foods, I decided to start making my own stock and broth year round. Now, whenever whole chickens go on sale, I buy 4-5. I cook the chickens, use the meat for dinners and lunches and use the carcasses to make mass amounts of stock and broth.
When I discovered how to do this in my crock pot, I was one very happy woman! I will be honest and say this was not my original idea. I actually got it from an ebook I purchased: Easy Homemade: Homemade Pantry Staples for the Busy Modern Family.
Here’s how it works….
First, you chop up onions, celery and carrots and place them in the bottom of your crock pot. Then place your (rinsed) chicken over the top. Add a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and some peppercorn. Cook on low 6-8 hours or until your chicken is done.
Once chicken is cooked, pull out and remove meat from the bones. At this point, package the meat into individual containers or bags to freeze or use throughout the week.
Put all the bones back into the remaining liquid in the slow cooker and fill with more water to the top. Cook on low for 24 hours.
If you are feeling rather energetic and productive, get two crock pots going at the same time.
The contents of your slow cooker should look something like this when it’s done. It should be a rich, golden color.
At this point, use a large slotted spoon to remove the bones from the pot and place on large platter. Save for later. Strain the remaining liquid through a fine mesh strainer into a large pitcher or glass measuring bowl. Then pour into pint or quart size canning jars.
I use both size of jars. Quart size for when larger quantities are needs, like for soups. And pint size for smaller jobs, like cream of something soup or to add to sauces.
Once you’re done straining and pouring the broth into jars, set aside to cool.
Next, place the bones you saved early back in the slow cooker. Cover with water and cook on low for another 24 hours. Follow the same instructions for straining as before. This round makes your broth. It’s a little weaker, a little less flavorful.
(If you’d like, you can even run the bones through again for a third batch, but I usually stop at round two)
Once the liquid has cooled down, place in the refrigerator to allow the fat to rise to the top. It will form a solid white layer. Scrape this layer off and then transfer the jars to the freezer.
Before freezing each batch, be sure to mark with a 1 or a 2 so you know whether it’s stock or broth when taking it from the freezer.
You can store the stock/broth in the refrigerator for up to four days and in the freezer for 6-12 months.
Now go make some soup!