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How to make the best chicken stock in your slow cooker

Photo: Ingredients for fresh chicken stock

Photo: Ingredients for fresh chicken stock

I’d written my post for tonight. Budget, delicious chicken risotto for 62p per portion when I realised that the main ingredient – the chicken stock hadn’t been blogged.

A horse without the cart is no good for anyone who is travelling in foodie country. So here’s the cart. This stock works with cooked chicken bones or a fresh carcass. The latter makes better stock, I think. If you remember to remove the chicken when it is cooked (1-1.5 hours depending on size) you will have perfectly poached chicken to add to a multitude of other dishes such as stir fries, risotto, soup, pies, sandwiches to name but a few.

You don’t need to cook chicken from scratch for every dish especially if you have really good stock. Just use the stock (even to braise vegetables in a stir fry) and add the chicken right at the end and allow 2-3 minutes for it to warm through.

The main secret of making stock in the slow cooker (or Aga) is to add cold water. This allows the flavours to develop as the stock heats up. It may take an hour or so for the stock to reach simmering point on auto in a slow cooker but it’s worth the wait. I’ve tried adding hot stock and cold stock and the latter wins hands down every time.

The other key trick was suggested by Joanna of Joanna’s Food. Leave the skin on the onion. This gives colour and added flavour to the stock. Joanna, I thnk you from the bottom of my heart every time that I taste my stock.

The third tip is to chop your vegetables fine so that the maximum flavour is released. I’ve tried tossing in whole vegetables and the chopping is worth it every time.

The fourth tip is taken from the way most decent chefs make stock. Add a good quality chicken stock cube. This sounds crazy as you have a chicken already submerged in the pot but it works.

Fresh herbs (thyme is great with chicken and doesn’t tend to overpower), peppercorns, garlic and a bay leaf all add to the magic of good stock. Once your chicken is cooked remove it and allow the stock to simmer on for a good two or three hours. Chill the stock and skim off the fat. Then you are ready to go!

Cook your rice in the stock, use it as a base for soup, try it instead of milk in a béchamel type of sauce, simmer vegetables in it and generally luxuriate in its flavour. It’s packed with vitamins and minerals.

How to make the best chicken stock in your slow cooker

Ingredients:

  • Half a free range chicken
  • 3 stalks of celery sliced fine
  • 1 medium onion, skin on and quartered
  • 3 medium carrots sliced fine
  • 1 medium courgette sliced fine
  • 10 black peppercorns
  • 1 fresh bay leaf
  • 10 sprigs of thyme (a sprig is a side stalk in this kitchen)
  • 1 fat clove of garlic, chopped fine
  • 1 good quality chicken stock cube (such as Gallo organic)
  • Half tsp of dried Italian herbs
  • Quarter tsp of salt
  • Cold water to cover

Method:

  1. Put all the ingredients into the slow cooker. Set your slow cooker to auto or high until the water starts to simmer.
  2. Turn to low for an hour or so until the chicken is cooked (juices run clear from the thickest part of the thigh). When the chicken is cooked, remove it and cover with foil. When it is cool put it in the fridge – the foil will stop it drying out.
  3. Meanwhile allow the stock to bubble away on low for at least another two hours. Chill and remove the fat.

If you are using pre cooked bones they can stay in the stock until the end.


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25 Comments

  1. Mrs Green

    This is absolutely brilliant – thank you! I have always thought of stock as a way of using up old bones, but to actually make the meal from the chicken at the same time is utter genius!
    I would never have thought of that.
    Thanks for the inspiration :)

  2. I’m definitely going to try this. I was really curious when you first mentioned it (and a bit dubious, to be honest)as I make mine in a pan on the stove, but now you’ve explained it, I’m thinking “yes”. (Never would I have thought of leaving the skin on the onion!!! I’m going to try that too.)

  3. How long will the stock keep in the fridge?

  4. Veronica

    Hi Lindsay

    I’m not Fiona, but I would never keep stock more than a few days in the fridge. You can extend its life by re-boiling it, but I find a better solution is to boil the finished stock hard to reduce it a little, then pour into ice cube trays. Freeze, remove from trays, and put the cubes in a ziploc bag in the freezer. That way you always have home-made stock cubes to pop into whatever you’re cooking.

  5. Hi

    I just wanted to clarify a small point: you mention the braisé vegetables and braisé chicken which result from this recipe, but this is not the correct term.

    Braisé implies searing at hot temperature before cooking in liquid, which clearly is not what you are doing when preparing this chicken stock, as you describe putting all the ingredients in the pot before covering with water.

    PS: loved the slow-cooked pork belly!

  6. kate (uk)

    I agree with Veronica- freeze your reduced extra stock, don’t keep it hanging about in the fridge.
    A slow cooker is a much easier way to make stock- you can just walk away from it and let it get on with the job, no danger of it boiling over or boiling dry nor will it steam up the whole house on a cold damp day.That onion skin tip sounds good- next week’s stock will have onion skin in.

  7. I’ll try chopping my veg next time, thanks for the tip.

  8. If you take the meat off the bones as soon as it’s cooked, you can then put the carcase back in with the stock until the end of the cooking time to extract maximum flavour. The other advantage is that the hot meat comes off easier than when it’s cold.

  9. Amy Jemima

    Superb recipe full of great tips! Thanks for sharing, I will most certainly be using this for my stock – and to cook my chicken for chicken salad.

    Thanks again!

  10. Scott at Realepicurean

    I don’t have a slow cooker :(

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