Homemade stock is kitchen magic, an alchemy that turns ragged stalks and bones into liquid gold. All it takes is a chicken carcass, vegetables, and water. And yet I let chicken bones and celery pile up in my freezer, reluctant to keep my stove on for an entire evening.
Then I had a brilliant idea - use the slow cooker! With homemade stock bright in my mind, a Google search quickly disabused me of any notions of originality. Lots of people make stock in their slow cooker, and for good reason.
A slow cooker is the perfect magic cauldron, maintaining a low simmer all day to draw out all the juicy chicken goodness with almost zero supervision from you. This may not be your clearest, most perfect stock, skimmed and fussed over, but it will do very well for your autumn soups. Plus it makes your apartment smell wonderful!
I finally cleaned out my freezer again tonight and I am going to sleep with the smells of chicken broth and herbs percolating through the air.
To make stock in your slow cooker: Put in one chicken carcass, preferably one with a little meat still on it. Add a couple of carrots, chopped into large pieces but not peeled, some cut-up stalks of celery, one quartered onion, and a bay leaf. You can also add some thyme, basil and peppercorns, if you like. Add water until the crock is 3/4 full, and cover.
Set on low for 10 hours, or high for 5 hours. At the end taste and add salt, if you want to. Let cool in the crock for about half an hour, until it's cool enough to handle, then strain out and discard the vegetables and bones. Refrigerate until cold, skim off the fat, then put in individual baggies and freeze.
And when you want to make a nice warm soup with some of that delicious stock, here's some recipes from the archives:
• Italian Escarole Soup
• Miso Soup
• Curried Zucchini Soup
• Mexican Chicken Soup