Crock-Pot Chicken Stock (Couldn’t Be Easier!)

I think I mentioned in my roast chicken post that I like to freeze the bones and make stock.  Now, usually my freezer is in one of two conditions: ten bags filled with frozen chicken carcasses waiting to be “stockified”, or no chickens.  Luckily, there was one in there when I realized that I was completely out of chicken stock, homemade or storebought.
Now, why would I make my own stock?  Well, for a few reasons.  Number one, it tastes good!  Number two, it’s extremely economical.  I mean, if you are using whole chickens (and we already established that I am), why not add a couple more ingredients that you are more than likely going to have hanging around to make something that you would otherwise have to purchase?  Good stock is about $3.00-$4.00 for a 32-oz container.  I made out with 80 oz. on this batch!  Number three, even “reduced-sodium” storebought stock is rarely low-sodium.  It’s like 30% reduced…so if you look at the numbers, it doesn’t look much better than regular, really.  And regular stock has a ton of sodium.  I’ve only found one brand (Pacific) that makes a truly low-sodium stock.  That’s what I buy in a pinch…but mine is much less expensive, and I have complete control over the sodium.  And it’s easy!

Start with your frozen chicken carcass.  I save everything-the skin, the bones, and all of the meat that stuck to them.  Use the chicken for all it’s worth!  Next, I put my frost-bitten friend into the Crock-Pot.  By the way, this one is five quarts.  Anywhere from four to six quarts would work, though if you have a four-quart Crock-Pot you may need to reduce your water by a bit.

I just dump everything in a freezer bag and throw it into my deep-freeze....

I promise that the frostiness is not going to affect the taste!

Now, assemble your vegetation.  I was in a hurry, so I just did a quartered onion, two celery ribs, and two carrots.  I just scrubbed the celery and carrots and chunked them up; I didn’t even bother to peel my carrots (I rarely do).  You could also add a bay leaf, some parsley, peppercorns…like I said, I was in a hurry!

The secondary players....

No need to do too much chopping.

I actually stood on the counter to get this shot!

Now, pour over the water.  I used twelve cups.  A little bit will evaporate during the cooking process.  Lid up and cook over low for eight hours.  Actually, what I did was cook it on low for six hours, then turned it up to high for the final two.  You don’t have to do this, though….it’s just what I did!

Twelve cups of water go in....

When the stock is finished cooking, set a colander over a pot that is large enough to hold it all.  Pour everything into the colander and then press the chicken and vegetables down with a spoon to get out as much extra liquid as possible.  Set aside the colander.  You don’t want to leave the stock sitting like this for long; it’s an open invitation for bacteria to come to the party.  I pretty much immediately ladle the stock into these little plastic containers.  I got six 1-cup containers and two 2-cup containers.  I did let these sit on the counter for just a few minutes to cool.  If you put a lot of hot stuff in your fridge, you will bring up the temperature of everything in there, and that’s not a good thing.  Overnight in the fridge, then these go to the freezer to await their use in some cooking project.  You could also freeze your stock in freezer bags-cool it in the fridge then ladle into bags, press out the air, and freeze flat.  Let me also point out that stock purists will tell you that this is not the final step, that you are supposed to skim the fat off the stock and strain it to get out the impurities.  You know what?  I’m not worried about it.  But if you want to, that’s totally up to you.  It’s just not important to me!

They've given up all the goods....

I've heard this called "Jewish penicillin..."

These storage containers are super inexpensive and make storage a snap.

When you are ready to use, just run hot water over the outside of the container until the stock pops out like an ice cube.  Heat it up (boil it briefly; it’s an insurance policy against any bacteria that may have snuck in there!) and use it in whatever applications call for chicken stock!

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