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Ingredient Spotlight: Chicken Stock - Modern Alternative KitchenModern Alternative Kitchen

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One of the first kitchen projects I attempted when transitioning from the Standard American Diet to one free of processed foods was making my own chicken broth. We eat a lot of soup around here, particularly in the winter, and I knew that making my own would not only eliminate all of the junk that is added to canned stock (i.e., sodium, MSG, coloring, flavorings, etc.) but it would also make the most of the pastured chicken.

Last summer, I was researching the best way to cook a whole chicken, as I had not had a lot of luck in the past with the conventional oven method (pretty sure I had salmonella for about 10 days last July). On Pinterest, I saw that you can cook a whole chicken in a crockpot. So, I figured if you could cook a chicken, surely you could make chicken broth…right? With my previous crockpot knowledge in hand, I set out to do just that. It worked! Easy peasy, plus the chicken was super moist and the broth about a hundred times better than store bought, and so much better for you! Here is how I did it:

1. Buy a whole chicken (preferably pastured and organic). Put it in the crockpot for 7 hours on low. Don’t add any water, but you can add s&p, paprika, or whatever other spices you like. I just did it up plain, as I wanted the freedom to use the chicken however I deemed necessary for future meals.

2. After the 7-hour mark, pull the chicken out (carefully, as the meat all wants to fall off the bone), let cool enough to handle. There should be about 1-2 inches of chicken juices left in the crockpot. As you debone the chicken, throw the skin and the bones back into the crockpot. I cut or broke the smaller bones to get out as much of the good marrow into the broth as possible. Add 5 cups of water. Throw in a carrot, some celery, some onions, whatever you have laying around. Set the crock pot on low overnight (I did ten hours).

3. Wake up to a glorious smelling house. Yummy! Strain all the veggies/bones/skins out and put the broth into your (freezer-safe) containers. I used mason jars and got five pints out of this batch! When filling the jars, be sure to leave 1-2 inches of ‘head room.’ Let them cool completely, skim and discard fat off top, put the lids on and pop them in the freezer.  (This has worked for me at least 20 times in the last year. However, the last time I froze broth, not one but two of my mason jars cracked. I think I broke my own rule of letting them cool completely (possibly even let them spend a day in the fridge) before freezing. Don’t do what I did, let them cool first!!)

I really noticed a difference in the homemade versus store-bought chicken stock. The homemade was thick and gelled, and it had lots of rich flavor and was not salty like the stuff out of a can.

The best thing about this recipe? Besides being real food with no added junk, it cooked itself. All I had to do was throw it all in the crockpot, and then sleep. Yeah, I am a good cook, but I am a really good sleeper.

What is your favorite real food shortcut using the crockpot?

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jill

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24 Comments

  1. I’ll have to try that sometime! I love doing a chicken in the oven (2 hrs @ 350′ works every time for me) and I’ll either make stock right away with the carcass or I throw it in the freezer for another time. Just made up an amazing roasted balsamic squash soup and was thrilled to use some deeply colored stock from the day before. I usually do the same made-up rub (butter, thyme, rosemary, garlic, paprika, lemon zest, salt and pepper).

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  2. I have done this but also added some ACV to the broth the same time as veggies. I read somewhere it pulled out good stuff from the bone like calcium. Maybe it was on MAM.

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    • I saw that somewhere recently as sell, but I do not know where. This weekend I tried it with a turkey carcass that had been smoked. I make a turkey every few months and usually make some stock, but not always and I forget how it turns out from one time to the next. Anyway, I think the apple cider vinegar really helped break down the bones and connective tissue more than in the past. After the stock had chilled it was like turkey Jello!

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  3. […] (or more accurately, it can make for me): coffee-pot roast (yeah – they went there), bone broth, apple butter, yogurt, refried beans, fajitas, and molten lava […]

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  4. I am just curious why you scooped the fat off the top. I have been making bone broth for a couple months now and am always wondering if I should or not. Thanks!

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    • Hi Carissa! Good question! You can certainly leave the fat in (and I would even recommend it if you are using pastured chickens), but you can also skim the fat and use it for other things (like frying eggs!)…it is completely up to you!

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  5. Sorry to ask a “stupid” question…..what’s the difference between chicken “broth” and “stock”? Or are they the same thing? Can they be used interchangably?

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  6. This is my favorite post yet. 1. B/c I’ve been meaning to ask you about how you do this and 2. The last sentence of the post.

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  7. What stuff do you make out the plain chicken? I normally season it all up when I put a chicken in the crockpot and then save the carcass after we eat it.

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  8. What do you do with the plain chicken? I usually season make a “rotisserie” chicken in the crockpot and then save the carcass after we eat it.

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    • Anything that calls for chicken! I usually make enchiladas on the night of, and then freeze the rest for another meal (or two) later. Chicken pot pie, chicken soup, chicken tacos, white chicken chili, etc.

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  9. i love the idea of making my broth in a crock pot. i usually do it on the stove but this sounds even easier! i cringe when i have to buy the store bought stuff so the easier = the better = less store stuff.

    thanks for sharing with us at the Wednesday Fresh Foods Link-up! I hope to see you again this week with more seasonal & whole/real food posts! xo, kristy.

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  10. Question from a complete chicken cooking newbie: Do you need to do anything to it before you put it in the crockpot, y’know like reach in and pull out the giblet thing, or some other mysterious preparation that someone like me wouldn’t know about, but everyone else totally knows and does. Haha! It just seems too easy!

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    • Ann…it depends on your chicken! Stick your hand in the chicken cavity and if you ‘can’ grab something…DO…and pull it out! Sometimes the giblets and neck and other things are wrapped in plastic. Although, that likely won’t be the case if the chicken is pastured. (but p.s….it IS just super duper easy!) Good luck!

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  11. Hi Jill,
    I recently made this recipe and loved it!! I am going to post it on my website –can I reference your website? I am so glad I found a recipe making stock in a slow cooker- love the idea. One other question–do you freeze the leftover meat? I haven’t actually frozen leftover cooked chicken before.

    Thanks!
    Julia

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  12. […] to stop making excuses and try out a slow cooker recipe for chicken broth.  I found a recipe on Modern Alternative Kitchen by Jill for homemade chicken stock (I love this blog and Jill’s suggestions on how to slowly eliminate […]

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  13. […] lard, or duck fat. Stop buying anything that says “low-fat” or “fat-free.” Prepare Homemade Broth-(Toss out the store bought!) Eat Local! Stock Your Pantry with Real Food Essentials-Beans, Nuts, […]

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  14. I have been making chickens in the crock pot for a few months now. Usually I put enough water in the crockpot while cooking the chicken to almost cover it, about 4-5 cups. Is there any reason you see why I could just use this water to make the stock? It already has a lot of flavor to it and the chicken has cooked in it all day.

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