Back in the first year of this blog I wrote about making chicken broth – how easy it is and how it’s a great way to use things we’d normally throw away (bones and vegetable scraps) to make a super nourishing meat stock.
To make sure I always have some on hand I make big batches to freeze and use not only in soups but also in place of water to make rice (ups the nutrient value and the flavor), and in recipes like curry and risotto. I also find that my homemade stock makes sauces and gravies wonderfully flavored.
However in the warmer months, the idea of a huge pot of broth simmering away on the stove for hours (the longer it cooks, the more flavor it has) loses it’s appeal. And although I’m not making many soups, I still make rice, curries, and other recipes that call for stock. Plus, I simply don’t want to waste the precious chicken bones.
I could freeze the bones to make broth later (which I do a lot when I’m cutting up a chicken – I save those backs until I’ve got enough for a pot), but I’ve found it is really convenient to use the slow cooker.
Here are the steps to make chicken broth easily in the slow cooker:
- In order to have cooked chicken on hand for salads, wraps/sandwiches or other recipes, throw a chicken in the slow cooker right when you get home from shopping.
- Season with a bit of salt and pepper and let it cook for about 3 hours and then remove the chicken from the bones and package the meat up for the freezer.
- BUT, leave everything else in the slow cooker – bones, broth from cooking, and skin.
- Add onion, carrot, and celery ends and trimmings that you’ve been saving in the freezer.
- Fill it about three-quarters of the way from the top with water and turn it to HIGH for an hour to get it cooking. After an hour, turn it to LOW and then go to bed and let the bones and vegetables simmer all night.
In the morning the deepest, most flavorful and nutrient-dense chicken broth awaits you in the cooker. Then it’s a simple matter of straining and pouring into glass canning jars to cool before attaching lids and storing in the fridge for a week or the freezer for longer.
Obviously, you can do this in the morning and let the broth cook all day as well – I simply find it easiest to let it cook through the night after cooking a chicken in the afternoon.
The slow cooker has made it possible for me to have cooked meat and broth ready for recipes – all without heating up the kitchen (well, not too much – and mostly at night) and with a minimum of work. If you made nothing else with a slow cooker but cooked chicken and broth, it would be well worth the investment.
And the fact that this delicious broth is made from throw-away items is still amazing to me.
Have you used your slow cooker to make broth? What is your favorite way to use the broth?