Monday, March 1, 2010

Homemade Chicken Stock

I use homemade chicken broth in a lot of dishes, such as rice, as a soup base, or in mashed potatoes, to name a few. When I buy large packages of split chicken breasts, chicken leg quarters, or a whole chicken fryer, I try to make a point of making homemade chicken broth. Actually, I make chicken stock, which has a much fuller and richer taste, and a gelatinous texture from using chicken bones (chicken broth is usually made with the meaty parts).

I find my slow cooker to be an invaluable tool to making the perfect homemade chicken stock, because I can cook the chicken in the slow cooker during the day, and then make the chicken stock while I'm sleeping. The process may seem long, but it's really a great alternative to spending 5 hours or more sweating over a hot stove just to make some broth.

Here's how I typically make homemade chicken stock (it's really versatile because you can add or take out herbs and add or take out vegetables).

Homemade Chicken Stock

carcass from chicken breasts, leg quarters, or whole fryer
2-3 coarsely chopped celery and tops
1-2 chopped carrots
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 Tbsp whole black peppercorns

Place chicken bones and unedible parts in slow cooker. Add celery, carrots, onion & peppercorns. Add enough water to cover. Turn temperature to low, and cook in crock-pot overnight, or 8-10 hours.

After cooking, strain out as much of the bones, peppercorns and vegetables as you can; discard.

The next step requires removing the chicken fat. The easiest way to do this, for me, is to put the crock into the refrigerator. As the stock cools down, the grease will settle on top of the stock, and any missed bones, chicken pieces, vegetables, will settle on the bottom of the crock. Plus, since I cook the stock up overnight, I can let it cool in the fridge while I'm at work or running errands, and finish preparing it after I get home. And if I don't get a chance to skim off the fat/grease, then it's ok since it's chillin' in the fridge, and I can take care of it the next day.

Once fat has settled on top of your stock, use a spoon to scoop it off, and discard. The gelatin-like substance beneath the fat is your chicken stock--yummy goodness!

Place chicken stock in 2-cup portions in freezable containers or quart-size freezer bags. I got a total of 8 cups of chicken stock with the last batch that I made, and I was super excited because I managed to find room in the freezer! :) Another benefit of making your own stock--it's practically free!

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