Recipe: Slow Cooker Chicken Broth

So remember that spectacular (if I do say so myself) slow cooker chicken recipe I posted a few weeks ago? Well, here's a continuation of what to do with the leftover carcass to really stretch the value of your hard-earned chicken!

A big secret to a lot of cooking, whatever cuisine it is, comes from the use of good, full-flavored broth. Whether made from beef, chicken, vegetable, seafood, or mix of things, broth is the magic and pillar for flavor and depth behind many dishes- sometimes much more than the seasoning. Seriously, whatever cuisine you're cooking, broth is life.

Back in the states, using canned or pre-made broth from the store was simple and inexpensive but that's not so much the case out here where yes, canned broth can be found but they're rather marked up. But if you've got a slow cooker you can get a big old batch of homemade stock primarily made with things you were going to throw away anyways. By this I mean the bones and whatnot from your rotisserie chicken as well as the ends and scraps from your vegetables. Best of all, since it's done in a slow cooker all you gotta do is dump all the stuff in, fill it with water and a little seasoning/herbs of your choice and in a few hours you're good to go with golden ambrosia that can go into soups, rice, and a whole lot of other dishes. Healthy, flavorful stock that also saves you money... how can you argue with that?

Slow Cooker Chicken Stock

You'll need:
- 1 Chicken Carcass from a whole chicken (if you have the chicken neck too, make sure to include that in here too!)
- 1 Onion, roughly chopped
- 1 Carrot, roughly chopped
- 1 cup of Vegetable scraps and ends (Save the peels and ends from your carrots, onions, green onions and such in a plastic bag in your fridge or freezer)
- 1 Bay Leaf
- 1 sprig of fresh Parsley or 1 tbsp of dried Parsley 
- 1 sprig of fresh Thyme or 1 tbsp of dried Thyme 
- 4 Garlic cloves (Optional)
- 10-12 Black Peppercorns (Optional) 
- About 12 cups of Water (enough so all the contents of the slow cooker is covered in water) 
- Salt to taste

1. All you gotta really do is prep work first. Remember this whole chicken I made in the slow cooker? 

Well, save the bones off of it as well as any leftover skin. For sanitary reasons I like to use gloves to separate the meat from the bones before eating for easier usage.

2. Chuck the chicken bones and parts in your slow cooker along with all the rest of the dry ingredients- the onion, carrot, vegetable scraps, dried herbs, etc. If you have the chicken neck on hand (raw or cooked, doesn't matter) make sure to throw that in too as it will release a lot of flavor.

 Pour in the water and turn the slow cooker on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 4-5 hours (varies on your slow cooker strength).

3. When the time is up (delicious smells will be permeating your house), have a strainer on hand and strain out everything (the bones, veggies, etc). If you have a big strainer and container, you can alternatively dump the entire slow cooker's contents into your container through the strainer. Let the broth settle for a few minutes as the fat floats to the surface. Skim the fat.

Voila! Look at the beautiful color on that thing. It's ready to go for all your cooking needs. 

For storing, you can keep it in your fridge for up to a week or so. But since it gives you so much chicken broth and you can only use so much of it over the course of a week, just pour it into some freezable containers with lids and freeze for future use. You can even freeze a few into ice cube trays so that you can chuck a few chicken broth cubes into whatever you're cooking when needed!

Use it as base for other soups, flavoring grains, adding pizzazz to stir fries, etc... the possibilities are just about endless :)