October 10, 2012 by hoosieroutwest
It’s officially fall, which means it’s officially my favorite time of year. Fall to me is boot season, the beautiful Pacific NW contrast of grey sky and bright fall leaves and soup – lots and lots of soup.
Soup is great for a lot of reasons – it’s warm, it fills you up and best of all – you can make one pot and have dinner and lunches for a couple of days. I make lots of soups and I’ll probably be posting a lot of them here. One thing many of them have in common is chicken stock (no vegetarians here!).
I’ve discovered over the years that the best soups are completely homemade, including the stock. I promise making stock is not hard – especially if you have a crock pot. It’s one of the easiest set and forget recipes out there.
The other night we had a delicious Roast Chicken. Instead of throwing out all the bones, skin and other parts we didn’t eat I threw it all into my crock pot.
Here’s where it gets just a tiny bit gross, you’ll want to add all those chicken parts you didn’t cook too. You know – the throat, heart, liver – all those parts that the companies conveniently include with the chicken but falls out the middle when you’re preparing it to roast?
They may look gross but man do they add killer flavor to the stock. Don’t worry, you’ll pull them out after the stock cooks for a while and throw them out. I won’t make you eat them.
Anyways, add all your chicken scraps to your crock pot plus any vegetable scraps you have lying around. You don’t even need the pretty parts. I happened to cut up a bunch of celery to have with dip and just kept the scraps. If you’re on a tight budget like we are, this recipe is a great way to not waste any food.
I generally try to add celery, carrots and onions but don’t always have them all lying around. If you don’t have all three of those veggies you’ll want to add at least one of them or you’ll have some very flat tasting stock.
Once you get your crock pot filled with veggie and chicken scraps fill it the rest of the way with water. Then set it on low for 8-12 hours. I did this once overnight and Greg and I both had a horrible nights sleep. We kept waking up hungry! So now I set it in the morning and it’s usually done right around dinner time.
Once everything is cooked down and mushy you’ll want to separate the solids from the liquid. I put a fine mesh strainer over a bowl and ladle the stock into the strainer to catch all the solids.
Now you could use the stock right away but I find that the chicken skins make the stock a little on the fatty side. So I throw the bowl of stock in the fridge overnight. The next morning you get a bowl with an interesting look to it.
Yep – that white stuff is solidified fat. The good news is it’s easy to remove and you’ll save a whole bunch of calories by not eating it. Just take a spoon and scoop away the top layer of fat. Depending on how much chicken scraps you used in your crock pot the underneath stock will either be liquid or a funky gelatinous liquid hybrid. Mine was a funky hybrid this go around.
It’s hard to measure how much stock you’ve made when it’s in the hybrid state. If you let it sit at room temperature it’ll turn back into liquid and then you can measure how much stock you made. I usually make anywhere between 5-8 cups per recipe. It really depends on how much room you have in your crock pot for the water after you add all the scraps.
I’m posting a very bare bones recipe for this as it’s really just throw and go and pretty simple. If you have any questions feel free to post them in the comments and I’ll give you the best answer I have!
Makes about 5-8 cups
Scraps from one 3-4 lb whole chicken (including skin, bones and giblets – heart, liver, throat, etc)
Onion, carrot and celery scraps
Combine chicken and vegetable scraps in 4-6 qt crock pot until filled about half way. Add enough water to fill crock pot to the top.
Cook on low for 8-12 hours, until all solids seem mushy and house smells like homemade soup.
Strain solids from liquid stock. Refrigerate strained stock for 8-12 hours. Remove stock from refrigerator and spoon off solidified fat.
Use stock immediately or freeze.
You can also make stock on your stove top. Follow the same instructions as above but instead of placing in crock pot, place scraps and water in stock pot and simmer for 8-12 hours.
If you plan on freezing your stock be sure to freeze in 2 cup increments to make it easier to defrost and use in the future.