I’ve been contemplating embarking upon a juice fast. I understand that there are many health benefits associated with juicing. But honestly, I am more of a soup girl. Homemade soup. Made-from-scratch soup. I find the textures, shapes, and colors of soup ingredients appealing. This time of year, a bowl or mug of warm soup just makes me happy. And then there’s that awesome aroma of a pot of soup simmering on the stove. Mmmmm. Need I say more?
I’m scrapping the juicing, and going for souping!
As part of my continuing efforts to further reduce the amount of processed and containerized foods in my diet, not to mention the sodium contained in both, I decided to try my hand at homemade stock. Again. I’ve made a few batches over the years, but never stuck with it, mostly because of time constraints and the fact that good stock needs to simmer for several hours on the stove top. Back around Thanksgiving, with a turkey carcass looking pitiful in the roasting pan, I wondered if I could use my large slow-cooker to make some stock. I googled “stock in slow cooker”, or something like that, and guess what? Many, many other people have had the slow cooker idea long before it floated into my mind! Go figure.
I read through a bunch of recipes on-line and perused the stock information in my Joy of Cooking cookbook. And then I decided that even if I hadn’t invented the idea of making stock in a slow cooker, that didn’t mean I couldn’t invent my own recipe! Sometimes I just get in the mood to not play by the rules, and I guess I was in one of those moods, because I decided to name my recipe “Use What Ya Got Stock”. I did (use what I had on hand), and the turkey stock was delicious. I’ve made two batches of chicken stock since (using what I had on hand), and both times it was equally delicious. Using my own stock has taken my soup game to the next level. I highly recommend it. Here’s a basic list of ingredients I’ve used, and the process that worked well for me. Try it – I think you might like it!
“Use What Ya Got Stock” – Slow Cooker Recipe
- 1 cooked turkey or chicken carcass – bones, skin, & cartilage with most of the meat removed (deli-rotisserie chicken carcass works nicely). Cooked down drippings and bits from the roasting pan can be used as well, unless they are super greasy.
- Raw aromatic vegetables, cut in to large chunks. Remove peel or skin. I usually have carrots, celery, onion, and garlic on hand, and I use all of them. I use 1 onion, 2 or 3 cloves of garlic, 3 carrots, and 3 ribs of celery. Adjust amounts according to the size of your slow cooker crock.
- Fresh rosemary – 3 to 5 sprigs.
- Bay leaves – 5 to 7 leaves.
- Whole black peppercorns – about 10.
- Dried tarragon – about a teaspoon.
- Chili powder – about a teaspoon.
- Cayenne pepper – about a half teaspoon.
- Kosher or Sea Salt – about a teaspoon.
- I had small amounts of some herb mixes that were past their prime in my spice cabinet, so I tossed what was left of them in to the crock as well.
- Filtered water
Place the poultry bones, skin, etc. in the slow cooker crock. Distribute the vegetables, herbs, and spices in and around the poultry parts. Add filtered water to cover all ingredients and fill the slow cooker crock to about an inch from the top. Place the lid on the cooker, and cook on high for 1 to 2 hours, then reduce temp to low and cook overnight – about 8 to 10 hours in total.
When done cooking, remove bones and what is left of the vegetables & undissolved herbs with a large slotted spoon and allow to drain in a colander placed over a large bowl or soup pot. After the liquid is finished draining from the colander, remove and discard the solid contents of the colander. Add the remaining liquid stock from the slow cooker to the liquid in the bowl or soup pot, and allow to cool for about 30 minutes.
Place the cooled stock in the refrigerator – in glass container(s) – do not use metal containers, cover, and leave overnight. The next day, the fat will have risen to the top and solidified, and can be skimmed off with a spoon and discarded. The stock itself may be gelatinous (jelly like), and this is due to the collagen that has been extracted from the cooked bones. Collagen is not fat, and is a big part of what makes homemade stock so healthy and delicious. Pour or spoon the stock in to storage containers for refrigerating or freezing.
I store stock in 16 oz mason jars with plastic screw top lids in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 weeks. I’ll typically use 32 oz (4 cups) of stock in most of my soups, so I’ve been keeping two mason jars to refrigerate for use in the short term. Any left-over amount of stock is placed in freezer safe containers for use at a later date.