March 10, 2013

Crockpot Chicken Stock

     This week is spring break in Texas (also known as SpRrianNnnNnngggG BreEaaakkKkkk for those still in college).  I am not going anywhere exciting this year, so instead I am going to try and have a "crafter's-break" instead; do a craft once a day or so and hopefully document it here. Please chime in if you have any good ideas for quick crafts that I can try!

      I see food as craft, so for today's post, I made chicken stock. Luckily, it was very hands off after the initial chopping of the vegetables and putting them in the crockpot, so I had time to make baklava, fix lunch, clean, and do some laundry while I was waiting for the stock to be done.

     To make a stock, you need only four simple categories of ingredients: a carcass, vegetables, herbs, and water. There are some traditional ingredients (carrots, onions, celery), but I often use whatever I have on hand (in this case, fennel stalks, asparagus ends, and braising green stems). Each stock turns out tasting a bit differently this way, which I like.
     After the stock was finished, I let it cool then poured it into muffin pans and popped them in the freezer for perfectly portioned (2/3 c.) chicken stock popsicles to use in future recipes.

  • Carcass (piece of meat, preferably w/bone)
    •  1 chicken carcass (or turkey backbone, etc.)
  • Vegetables
    • 2 carrots
    • 3 celery stalks or kale/braising green stems
    • 1 onion 
    • (I also added fennel stalks and asparagus ends)
  •  Herbs
    • 1 bay leaf
    • 1-2 tablespoons dried thyme, basil and/or sage
    • 1-2 teaspoons whole peppercorns
How To:
1.   Chop all veggies into large chunks- don't stress about peeling anything.
A rough 1" chop works perfectly
2.   Put all the ingredients in a slow cooker. Any size works, but the one we use is huge, so more veggies fit inside. I like to layer, putting veggies first, then carcass, then more veggies over.
Layers #1 (fennel stalks and onion) and #2 (chicken carcass) put into crock; Layer # 3 is more veggies, including asparagus

3.   Add the spices to the crock (I used ~7 green peppercorns, ~2 tbs Bouqet Garni, and 1 bay leaf.) Fill the crockpot 3/4 full with filtered water, cover, then set for a low heat for 8- 10 hrs.
I used an entire pitcher of filtered water for this project; if your crock is smaller, you will need less water
4.     After time is done, let the broth cool for half an hour. Then strain stock (taking out meat, veggies, and any other solid bits remaining); you can use cheesecloth or a find mesh strainer for this purpose.

5.    (Optional) Add salt and/or chill the stock in the fridge, then skim off the fat.

6.     Put the stock in muffin tins, then freeze.
Steps: #1 portion out stock into muffin pans, #2 freeze, #3 pop out using warm towel,  #4/5 put into plastic bag and refreeze
7.     Use a warm towel to pop out the muffin shaped stock popsicles and put in a larger plastic bags for freezer (I like to also label with date, contents, and amount).

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