Along with no-fail homemade mayo, slow cooker chicken stock is now a staple in my kitchen.
You see, up until just a couple of years ago, I pretty much ignored “chicken stock” in every ingredient list and substituted for water instead. A travesty on multiple levels, I know.
Fortunately, I’ve come to my senses.
Now, before you roll your eyes at me and think “Great, ANOTHER homemade chicken stock post from ANOTHER real foodie,” let me explain. This is just any chicken stock. It’s quite possibly the easiest chicken stock you’ve ever made. And we’re frugal in these parts of the web too, so you know we’re doing as much as we can with as little as possible.
Easy + Nutrition + Flavor = Winner
Oh yeah, and you save 93% by making it yourself!
The Easy Method for Slow Cooker Chicken Stock
When it comes to getting the most I possibly can from a whole chicken, I have a somewhat methodical system.
First, I chop it into parts. It took me about 20 minutes the first time, but after doing this every month for well over a year, I’ve gotten it down to two chickens in roughly 10 minutes. Maybe I should moonlight as a butcher…
Edible chicken parts go into one bowl, skin in another and the innards, spine and wings go straight into the slow cooker. The slow cooker goes on high for four hours while I package up the chicken parts and label them for the freezer.
Four hours later, I ladle the chicken pieces from the slow cooker onto a plate so that they can cool and I don’t burn myself while trying to get all the meat off the bones.
Note: Starting this whole chicken process late morning tends to work really well for my schedule. The meat cooks through nap time, cools through dinner and I can pick it off while Mr. Crumbs has some time with the kids.
When all of the meat is picked from the bones, everything that’s left goes back into the slow cooker: bones, skin, tough pieces of meat that won’t pass through the kids radar… all of it.
Add a few splashes of apple cider vinegar, fill it to the top with water and turn it on medium-low for 10 hours.
Walk away proudly Family Chef, your work is done for the day.
Nutrition for Slow Cooker Chicken Stock
Homemade chicken stock is like the reverse process of making bones stronger. Instead of feeding good, nutritious food for strong, healthy bones, we’re drawing out the nutrients from that good, nutritious food into a rich and incredibly healthy liquid.
According to Nourishing Traditions, stocks contain the minerals of animal bones, cartilage and marrow. Calcium, magnesium, potassium, collagen and gelatin are just a few of these minerals. Actually, the mineral gelatin allows the body to better use the proteins it consumes, making it an essential nutrient for us frugal foodies who can’t necessarily afford copious amounts of meat in the meal plan.
To me, a cup of homemade chicken stock is like a liquid vitamin filled with trace minerals and healthy fat (seen above, partially solid)… except that there’s no arguing or whining when it comes to eating it.
Amazing Flavor of Slow Cooker Chicken Stock
My preferred method of stock doesn’t include adding any vegetables and it’s been the base of some pretty darn tasty soups. Far superior to any recipe that was made in the past with just water. Noodles, rice and risotto don’t stand a chance to even the pickiest eater when they’re based on rich, homemade chicken stock.
However, I must admit that my step-mom gave me a couple of quarts of turkey stock after Thanksgiving last year and hands down, it was the best stock I’ve ever tasted in my whole life.
My stance on vegetables may change forever based on that one batch of stock, but even if I forget to add the vegetables, the basic version is still no less than perfectly delicious.
- Combine all the ingredients, except parsley, in a slow cooker. Cook on low for a full 24 hours. 10 minutes before finishing the stock, add parsley (if using). Turn off slow cooker and skim any particles that have floated to the top. Allow to cool. Strain chicken parts and store in a freezer-safe bag for future stock. Discard vegetables. Chicken stock can be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days, or in the freezer for several months.
Cost Breakdown for Slow Cooker Chicken Stock
The most affordable chicken stock I’ve found is at Trader Joe’s for $1.99 per 32oz. (Get my full Trader Joe’s price list here.) However, here’s the cost breakdown when you make your own chicken stock:
- chicken bones, skin & innards: $0
- apple cider vinegar: FREE (how to make it)
- water: $0.008
Total Cost of Homemade Chicken Stock: $0.01 per quart!
How to Use Slow Cooker Chicken Stock, Besides Soup
When it comes to a nutritional powerhouse (that also makes food WAY yummy), we should aim to use it whenever possible. Besides making soup, try using it in place of water in these types of recipes too:
- casseroles and hot dishes, like this one-skillet taco meal
- rice, as in this super simple beef & broccoli dish
- stews and chili, like white chicken chili
- other grains like quinoa, couscous and polenta
- sauces, gravy
- steaming veggies
- cooking beans or lentils, like this cozy lentil recipe
- stuffing, or cold soups like chilled cucumber and avocado
Do you make your own stock? What do you use it for?
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