Ah, fall. The time of year when a young woman’s thoughts turn again to her Crock Pot.
I like to keep homemade chicken stock on hand as a base for all that comfort food. Yes, you could buy the packets of freeze-dried chicken stock, or pick up a tetra-pack the next time you’re buying groceries, but homemade stock is easy and adds an additional layer of flavor.
I make mine in the slow cooker, but you could easily do this in a large pot set on low on the back of the stove.
The base of any good stock is bones. You may be able to buy chicken bones at your local grocery store, I tend to find them more easily in small, mom-and-pop Asian grocery stores. There’s a really great place in the Richmond Public Market that sells two bags for $5.
After that, what goes in next is completely up to you! Here are some suggestions, though:
- Mirepoix: the holy trinity of French cooking, it consists of carrots, onions and celery.
- Spices and Herbs: garlic, peppercorns, coarse salt, rosemary, sage, bayleaf.
- Place chicken bones/carcass in the bottom of your crock pot (for an extra layer of flavor, you could roast it at a high temp for a few minutes in the oven or in a frying pan on the stove).
- Cut your vegetables/aromatics into large chunks. You don’t need to peel anything, just make sure they are washed, chunk them up, and throw them in. A word about colour: lots of onion skins will result in a darker stock, so omit if you like a lighter-coloured stock.
- Add your spices and herbs. Don’t bother peeling garlic, just give it a good bash with the back of your knife and chuck the whole cloves in. Same with herbs, feel free to put the woody stalks in, as well.
- Cover the entire mixture with enough water so that everything is mostly submerged. Cover, and turn on low.
- I let this go overnight, for about 12 hours (you will have pleasant dreams about roasted chicken dinners).
- Turn off, and allow to cool for little while. This makes it easier to handle.
- Strain off the solid part of the stock into a colander over top of a large bowl.
- You can do a second straining through a finer sieve or a cheesecloth or coffee filter if you like a clearer stock.
- Place the bowl in the fridge for a few hours and skim off the fat when it solidifies if you want a lower-fat stock.
- Place in zip-lock sealed bags and freeze, or you can freeze in individual muffin tins, which you then pop out like ice cubes, and store in a large zip-lock bag.
The next recipe will be something made with chicken stock.