Three ways to ruin chicken stock?
- Adding too much water (not having a good ratio of chicken/bones:water)
- Boiling the stock or cooking at too high a simmer
- Cooking the stock so long it evaporates
Making chicken stock on the stove is a seemingly simple task. But a lot can go wrong. The stock goes rank as soon as it boils for 2-3 minutes.
This means in order to make good stock, you need to be able to control the temperature. A bare simmer is where it should be. Tiny bubbles of water coming to the surface. But guess what? This isn’t an easy thing to achieve.
You turn the heat up to get it to this level, but it’s taking too long. So you turn it up a little more. Now shucks, your bubble is too high. You lower the heat. GUESS WHAT? Now it’s too low. Playing this game sucks – the same issue happens with beans.
With a slow cooker, you turn the heat on and it stays the same the entire time. This means you can cook your stock for 12-16 hours, the amount of time a good stock requires. You don’t have to THINK about whether you’re going to ruin in. You put the damn thing in the cooker, put some water in, throw in an onion, and turn it on. Slow cooker chicken stock is the best way to make stock.
Here’s why I don’t use carrots, celery, parsley, peppercorns, and anything else fancy in my stock:
I don’t always have carrots, celery, parsley and peppercorns around.
So what do I do?
I use a darn onion. And a cooked or raw chicken carcass, preferably with the wings on.
I’m not saying the stock isn’t better with carrots, celery, leeks, blah blah blah. I’m saying you don’t need to rush to the store to buy these things to make your stock. Your chicken stock will be JUST fine with an onion.
I hate impediments to cooking. I like simplicity. So if you have a chicken carcass + an onion, it’s crazy to throw it away. It makes a delicious stock whether or not you put every single aromatic in there.
The difference between stock and broth?
Broth is made with meat and bones, and stock is made with bones. Broth is better, though also more wasteful. That’s why I use the carcass with wings. You can make better broth with a bunch of chicken wings, but that’s wasteful, and expensive. Buy a chicken, get the butcher to cut it up, and use it so none goes to waste.
So why am I not giving you a recipe?
Here’s a method instead.
Put your chicken in the slow cooker. Fill the cooker with water – almost to the top, or about 1.5 inches above the chicken. Add an onion. Yeah, you’re supposed to add the onion after the water heats up, but that’s too many steps for me. I throw the whole thing in, and I forget about it.
If you have it, yes, 2 carrots and a stalk of celery would be lovely. A teaspoon of peppercorns, too, and a few leaves of parsley. If you want to draw the minerals out, apparently 1 tablespoon of cider vinegar will accomplish this.
Will your stock completely suck if you don’t use these? Nope. And you will have a product that’s 100x better than anything you can buy in the store.
Cook it on high, uncovered, for 12 hours. Cook it on low for 16 hours. Strain it, put it in a large bowl in the fridge, wait until the following day. Scoop up the fat, and put in pint size containers to freeze.
I’m a fan of easy. I believe in cutting corners where it’s appropriate. This is one of those places, because I’d rather have fresh stock than not. And if that means cutting out ingredients I don’t want to waste, then that’s what that means.
The Slow cooker makes it foolproof, and not having to buy a bunch of extra stuff makes it accessible.