How to make the best chicken stock in your slow cookerPosted by Fiona Nevile in Basics | 25 comments
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
- 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
- Put all the ingredients into the slow cooker. Set your slow cooker to auto or high until the water starts to simmer.
- 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.
- 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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