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Nothing beats the flavor of homemade chicken stock. But some recipes are intimidating for the home cook. Here's a no-fuss way to make it that doesn't require you to be there to attend it half the day. Unlike some recipes that yield gallons, this gives you a nice, manageable 2qts in a concentrated, jellied form that can be diluted to 4 qts if you want to. You can use the carcasses from any kind of cooked chicken that doesn't have breading, tomato sauce, or strong spices like curry or hot sauce on it. You don't have to have the giblets, but if you thought to save them the stock will be better.
- After eating the cooked chickens for the original chicken dinners pick all meat from bones and reserve for other purposes.
- Break the bones apart so that they'll fit better into the crock pot.
- Put bones, skin, and fat from the chickens and the giblets, if available, into a 6qt crock pot.
- Add vegetables.
- Add cold water until crock pot is full to 1 1/2 inches below the rim.
- Cook on high 4 hours and then on low for another 6-8 hours.
- Strain the stock through a colander or cheesecloth and chill to solidify the fat for easy removal.
- Portion out and freeze stock in whatever quantities suit your needs.
- Tip -- Be sure that the water is COLD. Cold water draws the goodness out of the bones and veggies while hot water seals it inches So for stock you want to start with cold water and heat slowly to draw all the flavor into the stock while for cooking the meat/veggies to eat those you would plunge them into boiling water and cook rapidly to preserve the flavor in the meat/veggies.
- Tip -- Don't avoid using the fat. It adds flavor as it simmers and you remove it at the end anyway.
- Tip -- Unless your budget dictates that no possible source of protein/calories should be overlooked any meat that might be remaining on the bones is not worth salvaging because it will be mushy and tasteless.
- Tip -- This strong, jellied stock can be diluted with up to an equal quantity of water if you need to stretch the supply.
- Tip -- If one of the other uses you have for the chicken meat is chicken salad or any other dish that calls for celery you can substitute the leaves and trimmings from several celery stocks instead of using whole stalks.
- Tip -- Some people use the onions peel and all. I find stock made that way can be a touch bitter. But it does give a very rich color when using yellow onions. Try it once to see if you like it. (If you don't the stock is not wasted because you can use it in curry where the intensity of the spices will overpower the unwanted flavor anyway).
- Tip -- you can save chicken carcasses and giblets in the freezer until wanted.
- Tip -- You can substitute turkey or use a mix of turkey and chicken if you have it on hand.