Monday, January 18, 2010

Busy Cook's Homemade Chicken Broth

Every professional chef I’ve ever encountered touts the flavor and quality of homemade stock/broth as superior to the store bought, canned version. It’s really not a complicated thing to make broth from scratch after you serve a roast chicken for dinner. The problem for me, however, is that I seldom find myself at home for at least 3 hours to tend a simmering pot.

If you’re busy like me, I hope you’ll like my recent discovery from my "Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Cookbook", which allows you to make broth overnight without worry in your slow cooker. After I made the roast chicken a few weeks ago, I stuck the carcass in a large Ziplock bag and froze it.

Last night around 6, I took it out and placed it in my slow cooker to let it defrost. At about 9:30pm, I used the following recipe and cooked the broth overnight. Then, this morning before work, I drained the gorgeous, golden, rich broth into a bowl and refrigerated it. Tonight, I skimmed the fat off the top, and drained it more thoroughly using cheesecloth and a fine mesh colander (I found that the colander alone wasn't as effective as I wanted at reaching a clear broth free of floaties). Finally, I froze the broth in 2 bags that can be easily used later for soups and other wonderful recipes. As Julia would say, "Bon.... Appetit!"

Slow Cooker Chicken Broth

1 chicken carcass
1 carrot, cut into chunks
2-3 celery stalks, with leaves, cut into chunks
1 yellow onion, quartered
A few springs of parsley, stems attached
A few peppercorns or ground pepper
Salt to taste (optional)

1. Combine all the ingredients in the slow cooker, except salt. Add cold water to cover by 2-3 inches. Cover and cook on HIGH for 1 hour.

2. Skim any surface foam with a large spoon. Cover, turn the cooker to LOW, and cook for 6 to 16 hours. If the water cooks down below the level of the ingredients, add a bit more boiling water.

3. Uncover and let cool to lukewarm. Set a large colander lined with cheesecloth over a large bowl and pour the broth through to strain. Press on the vegetables to extract all the liquid. Discard the vegetables, skin, and bones. If desired, reserve the meat for soup, salad or another purpose. Taste the broth and season with salt if needed, or wait to salt until you are using the broth. Refrigerate.

4. The broth is ready for use and can be refrigerated, tightly covered, for up to 2 to 3 days. Or remove the congealed fat from the surface and pour into airtight plastic freezer storage containers, leaving 2 inches at the top to allow for expansion. Freeze for 3 to 4 months. Whether refrigerated or frozen (and defrosted), make sure the broth is brought to a boil when using it.

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