Blog of an aspiring foodie

Weeknight stock

Posted by beer_chris on 16-November-2006

Been meaning to post on this for a while. I don't actually remember where I picked up the idea to make stock in a crock pot – it certainly wasn't my own – I did read it somewhere – but I don't really have a 'source' recipe I'm using for this.

The bottom line is that this is so easy it can be done over consecutive weeknights – and that's no lie – I've done it now a couple of times.

Starting with chicken and then I'll suggest how to modify this for beef stock. Butcher a roasting chicken or use a packaged cut up whole chicken. Butchering your own will guarantee that you get the back – although I've had pretty good luck in getting the back in my packaged cut up chickens lately. Cut the primals into halves such that the marrow in the large bones (thighs, wings, legs, back) is exposed. Trim off the tail and other fatty pockets (the excess skin and fat from the thighs is a good piece to remove). Reserve the giblets for another use!!!

Place in a roasting pan and sprinkle a few tablespoons of oil, roast for about half an hour at 450 – until the skin turns brown and the fat renders. You can do this on the stove as well, but the oven is easier.

Quarter an onion (don't even worry about peeling, just get the dirt off), cut up a carrot and 3 or 4 celery ribs (again – just get the dirt off and cut it very roughly – no peeling the carrots needed). Toss the whole bunch – chicken (including pan drippings), veggies – into the crockpot. Add a tbsp of peppercorns and a bouquet garni. If you have the spent remains of a clutch of roasted garlic, throw it in too (I tend to have these since I use them in mashed potatoes). Hell, add a tbsp of 'autumn rain' scented Cheer if you think it will make good sauce down the line.

Toss it around until it's mixed up pretty well. Fill with water to the tippitiest toppitiest point in your crockpot and set it on high. Let 'er go for about 8 hours (or overnight). Don't worry about skimming if you don't have the time.

Next morning (or whatever), strain out the hot stock and refrigerate immediately. Reserve the meat for another use if you want.

Wait about another day – until the fat coagulates and solidifies on the top of the stock. Remove it and what you have left is chicken jello (that's why I call it stock and not broth). Resist the urge to serve in a dessert glass with whipped cream on top – bag it in Ziplocs in 1 cup increments, freeze and you've no got 3-4 cups (in a normal sized crockpot) of super tasty chicken stock for use in sauces – no super salty stuff from the store – season to taste when you use it.

For beef broth/stock use 3-4 pounds beef and bones – the more marrow bones AND THE CHEAPER the better – mad cow be damned. I've used oxtails, neck bones, cheek, the mystery 'stew meat', short ribs (gasp!), rump roast, blade chops, you name it. It all makes tasty stock – but you do need some bones (prob 1/2 by weight??) for the jelly they provide. Ground beef will work but adds a lot of fat – use sparingly.

The recipe doesn't make all that much stock – traditional method (using a 'stockpot' instead of a crockpot) makes about double this – but this recipe is so easy you can do it on a weeknight, and I really don't use the results up all that quickly. Also, I think it is impossible to get good beef stock/broth at the supermarket – there is workable commercial chicken broth available, but I've yet to find beef broth that doesn't taste like someone boiled a box full of nails with an old shoe and then salted it so much hoping that you wouldn't notice the result tasted like sucking on the infected toe of a dead sailor whose corpse washed up on the beach four months after being unceremoniously buried at sea for being 'the stinky one' on his ship.

But I really don't have a strong opinion either way.

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