Crock-Pot Stock. Make your own homemade stock overnight (or whenever you want) in the slow cooker.
Canned broth and I have a love-hate relationship. I want to like it and I can’t beat the convenience. I need broth pretty regularly with all the cooking going on around here so I keep a few lower sodium versions in the pantry. But, why I don’t I make my own stock, and know what’s actually in it?
It seems like such a big messy hassle, especially when the weather isn’t cold and dry, which is often in Nashville. Steaming broth in steamy weather…not inspiring.
But, I figured it out and the solution is to make stock in a slow cooker. It’s stupid easy and delicious. Here’s the “recipe”:
Combine chicken or beef bones with some aromatics like onion, garlic, celery, bay leaf, parsley stems, and black peppercorns, cover it all with water and let simmer for hours while you go do something else, like go to work or to sleep. Whenever R.B. preps chicken for the smoker or rotisserie I drop the backs, necks, hearts, and kidneys (not the livers) into the pot and add the rest. Same with Thanksgiving turkeys — the turkey noodle soup is nearly done before the holiday meal is over.
Once it heats up the stock reduces gently and I don’t have to manage the heat level or the timing. In the steady crock the liquid won’t boil away or burn.
Let it cook it as long as you like; there is no set rule here. You’re just pulling all the flavors out of the meat, vegetables, and aromatics and into the water, so give it time to do that. I leave mine cooking all day or overnight.
When you’re done simmering, carefully pour the crock contents through a strainer into a large bowl, discard the solids, and cool the stock before refrigerating or freezing. One of the highlights of a little winter weather in Nashville is that during our brief “soup season” the cooling of the broth is so much easier and faster with the convenience of an open air walk-out “cooler.” Mine happens to be out on top of the wood pile by the back door.
Use freezer tape and a Sharpie to name and date the stock before freezing. Once frozen it’s not so easy to tell what it is it. Try to use in a couple months to get the most from it. And, if you’d like it a more condensed broth when it’s time to use, just pour it in a pan in the stove and bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook off a little of the water.