Homemade Chicken Stock

How is it possible that, with the quantity of soup I make (about one big pot per week), I’ve never made homemade chicken stock before? I shudder to think about the amount of money I’ve spent on boxes of organic broth in the past year, averaging about two four-cup boxes per recipe. Not to the mention the annoyance of lugging them home on the half-mile trek from Whole Foods. Geez. And all along, I had no idea just how darn easy (and tasty, healthy, and cheap) it was to make it on your own especially if you use your slow cooker. It’s about 10 minutes of work total.

The thought of making my own stock first occurred because I happened to have a spare chicken carcass sitting in my fridge. Don’t you? It was leftover from the chicken noodle soup I made when I was fighting the plague…okay it was a cold and it sucked. But the soup—and the carcass it left behind—was awesome. After removing the meat from the rotisserie chicken, I decided to hold onto the remains because I vaguely remembered hearing about using it to make homemade stock and thought I’d give it a try. Maybe. Then, later in the week, Robert and I went out to dinner with friends and he ordered half a roast chicken. Believe it or not, I asked the server to wrap up the skin and bones to go. That was definitely a first for me.

I came across lots of recipes online that required slaving over a big pot of stuff on the stove, occasionally skimming away fat, for four or more hours. I wasn’t having any of that. Finally, I found a few that used the slow cooker. I combined a bunch of the recipes based on what I had on hand (an onion, some carrots, celery, scallions, black peppercorns…) not really sure if it would work at all. While it stewed in the slow cooker I decided that if it was a total fail at least it made my apartment smell incredible for an entire day. It seriously smelled like I was sitting in a giant pot of soup. Not a bad way to spend a Friday. Finally, around hour nine, I decided it had had enough time to brothify. I lifted the lid, scooped up some liquid with a spoon, and lifted the spoon to my lips. A.MAY.ZING!!! The best broth I ever tasted in my life! It was rich yet light, bursting with chickeny goodness. Unlike the boxed kind, which, let’s face it, can taste a bit like saltwater, this stuff was clearly made from chicken, onions, and veggies. You can just taste it. Needless to say, you’re going to end up seeing lots of versions of roast chicken on the blog from now on because I’m going to need a lot more chicken carcasses around here.

Here is the recipe (if you can call it that) I used, but I’m sure it will work with just about any similar items sitting in your fridge and spice cabinet.

Ingredients

1 chicken carcass (bones and skin—it’s okay if there’s still a little meat on there, you’ll strain it out later.)
1 onion, peeled and quartered
4 carrots, cut into large pieces (I didn’t peel them)
4-6 ribs of celery, cut into large pieces
1 bunch of scallions, cut into large pieces (this is probably optional, but I needed to get rid of them.)
1-2 Tbsp black peppercorns
1 tsp kosher salt
3 dried bay leaves
Water
*I’ve also seen recipes that include fresh parsley, but I didn’t have any on hand.

Preparation
In a 4 to 6-quart slow cooker, place chicken parts on the bottom. Add the rest of the ingredients. Add water until slow cooker is about ¾ full. Cover and set on low for 8 to 10 hours. When done, taste and add salt if needed. Turn slow cooker off and allow to cool for 30 to 60 minutes. Place a strainer over a big bowl and scoop slow cooker contents into the strainer so broth flows into the bowl. Discard bones, veggies, etc. Place a tight fitting lid or plastic wrap over the top of the bowl and refrigerate until cold. (I left mine in until the next day.) Remove from fridge, skim fat off the top, then pour into a plastic freezer bag (the broth may be gel-like) and freeze.*

*I also learned a new way of freezing liquids that’s genius. Once you transfer the broth to the freezer bag place it flat on a baking sheet and place the baking sheet in the freezer. Once the broth is frozen it will be completely flat and super easy to store in the freezer without taking up much space. Love it!

Adapted From The Kitchn

5 thoughts on “Homemade Chicken Stock

  1. Lori

    We make vegetable and fish stock all the time- it’s $5 a PINT in the fish store for stock! big cost saver to keep your shellfish shells and leftover fish scraps in a baggie in the freezer until you have a fair amount. I supplement with a bottle of clam juice, it we are short on fish stuff.

    Paige- how can I convince you of the virtues of making beans from dried and savoring the incredible pot juice they make instead of using canned that have to be rinsed! I feel it though, you are soooo close!!

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  2. a balanced life Post author

    okay, okay I’ll get there, I promise : ) I was into adding dried beans to soups last year, but I think I lost my way. 1) Can you walk me through how to make them please? 2) What do you use the pot juice for? 3) What’s the website where you sometimes buy your beans 4) I have a recent obsession with lentils, but don’t know of that many ways to make them. Any suggestions?

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  3. Lori

    Rancho Gordo is the best internet bean site. I think Whole Foods has a great selection too. I usually put the dried beans in the crock pot with a *mirapoix, cover with 2″ over the top of water and cook away. don’t salt until the end. the beans will be flat, but add salt at the end and I like to use vinegar to brighten them. RAnch Gordo sells a banana vinegar that is really good.
    the pot juice is just served along with the beans- not unlike the sweet stuff in Campbells baked that you don’t rinse off, but even better and not sweet! although sometimes I add agave if I want a baked beans flavor.

    Have fun!

    *I used to saute the onion, carrot, celery, but if I am really rushed, I just chop and add raw.

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  4. Lori

    I have not tried this yet, but plan to.
    THREE LENTIL SOUP
    6 TBSPs EVOO
    1 med onion, chopped
    4 celery stalks, chopped
    1 cup chopped carrots
    2 small – med zucchini, chopped
    1/2 cup chopped cilantro
    1 clove garlic
    1 tsp cumin
    1 tsp turmeric
    1/2 tsp coriander
    1/4 cup lemon juice
    2 cups brown lentils
    1 cup orange lentils
    1 cup Dal lentils
    Salt to taste

    Heat 4 TBSP olive oil, sauté onion, celery & carrots for 2 min.
    Add lentils & 10 cups of water. Bring to boil. Cover & simmer until brown lentil are soft (about 20 min.)
    Add zucchini, slat & pepper. Bring back to boil. Simmer until zucchini is soft, but not mushy.
    Warm 2 TBSPs oil & sauté garlic, cilantro & spices. Add to soup. Add lemon juice.
    Simmer & serve.

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