Monday, August 5, 2013

{Overnight} Slow Cooker Chicken Stock

This summer our family signed up for our very first farm share (CSA). I've talked briefly about this before but realize I haven't shared too much more on the blog. Each week on my facebook page I post a picture of our weekly share, just like the one above. Every Thursday when daycare is over for the day, the girls and I drive across town to pick up our stash for the week. It's always a nice variety and we've enjoyed trying new things.

Speaking of my facebook page, make sure you're following me on there! I sometimes post things like these pics that I don't normally share on the blog. Plus I've got a good giveaway going on right now, you'll want to make sure to check it out! I'll be drawing a winner Tuesday evening so head over and enter!

A few weeks back we also had the chance to purchase fresh whole broilers from the farmer. I've found it's not so easy to find free-range chicken or grass-fed beef in our community and really wanted to try a couple. Now I've always thought the chicken was good that I purchase from our local grocery store, they seem to have really good quality meat. But as I'm reading more and becoming more knowledgeable about how most chickens are raised; it really disgusts me and I hate the idea of feeding my family something that is full of antibiotics.

We decided as a family to purchase two for the time being. Let me tell you, they aren't cheap! At $3.35 per pound, I spent more than I ever have on two chickens. We've prepared one so far and it was so good! I split up the pieces amongst two pans. One I slathered a homemade barbecue sauce on and the other had a combination of olive oil, garlic and various spices plus some lemon.

I wish I would have taken a pic, I can't believe I forgot. They were so beautiful, well as beautiful as cooked chicken can be. I could totally taste a difference in the meat, because you can bet I surely had some "regular" cooked chicken on hand. The legs and thighs weren't as fatty either we noticed. Now I can't honestly say from here on out we will only be purchasing free-range chicken, our budget simply won't allow for that right now.  But whenever we can we most certainly will.

Since I was spending so much on one chicken, you can be sure I wasn't letting any of that bird go to waste. You should have seen me, patrolling everyone's plates as they were done. Making sure no bones whatsoever were thrown away. I was surely making some more chicken stock for the freezer.

Now I've already posted about homemade chicken stock before. But this time I came across a way to make it in the slow cooker, overnight while we were sleeping or even during the day when you're going about your usual business. If I can save myself some time in the kitchen then I'm game.

I put everything in the slow cooker before bedtime one night and went to sleep. The next morning I woke up to the most amazing smell in our house! I almost thought I had some sort of chicken and noodles or soup going until I remembered it was the stock.

Even look at the difference in color from the first picture to the second. The first one is the stock I made last year with a typical chicken most us purchase from our grocery store. The second one is made from the free-range chicken I purchased from a local farmer. It's so much darker and much more flavorful in my opinion.

Whichever type of chicken you use to make homemade stock, you'll definitely want to give this easy slow cooker version a try! It can't be any easier to make and you'll love being able to pull a container out of your freezer any time you need some for a recipe.

{Overnight} Slow Cooker Chicken Stock

Leftover bones/carcass from one whole chicken
1 onion, peeled and roughly chopped
2 whole carrots, chopped (I didn't even peel)
1 bay leaf
sprinkling of parsley and thyme, don't worry about exact measurements
salt to taste
*celery would also be good to add as with any other veggies on hand

Add all ingredients to slow cooker, make sure to remove any meat from bones for another use. Fill slow cooker with water, leaving about 1 inch at the top. Cover and turn on low, let cook overnight or for at least 8-9 hours during the day.

When stock is done, ladle soup to pass through a fine mesh sieve to remove all bones, veggies and herbs. You can leave this in the slow cooker or I ladled it into a large bowl to let cool. Let stock cool either on counter or in fridge for 24 hours. At this point the fat will rise to the top, skim this off to remove.

Transfer stock to freezer containers or mason jars. You can also freeze small portions in ice cube trays and transfer to a freezer bag when solid. Store in freezer for future use.

Source: 100 days of real food

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