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Sunday, November 10, 2013

The High and Low of Cooking

I fancy myself a cooking purist, but sometimes real life gets in the way.

Such is the case with chicken stock.  The stuff in the box is fine, but homemade chicken stock is so much better.  And it's not that hard to make.  What's difficult is finding the time to wait around for a couple of hours while the stock is simmering away on the stove.  And that's why I resort to boxed stock so often.  In a perfect world, I would only use homemade chicken stock in my cooking, but there's that nasty real world again.

My go-to chicken stock recipe is this one from Fine Cooking Magazine.  It produces an incredibly rich chicken broth, but it also has a fairly hefty hands on cooking time.  Delicious, but not a project for a busy day.

But in a moment of total kismet,  I came across this recipe for a rich chicken stock made entirely in the slow cooker.  Yes, the stock has to cook away for 8-10 hours on low.  But that's it.  It has just four simple ingredients (plus water, which isn't really an ingredient at all) and virtually no prep, unless you considering dicing an onion and smashing a garlic clove prep, which I do not.  It's barely a recipe at all.  And the prep is so quick that you can make a couple of quarts to squirrel away in the freezer for use at the holidays... and beyond. This chicken stock is the ultimate in low-effort-high-reward cooking, which I love, love, love.

Recipe:  Perfect, Uncluttered Chicken Stock
Smitten Kitchen / Barely adapted from Cook’s Illustrated

You Little Tarte's Note:  You might feel like you want to add more "stuff" to the slow cooker, like carrots and celery.  Wait and add that stuff later if you're going to serve this as chicken noodle soup, etc.  This is a perfect multi-purpose stock just as it is.  Trust me.

Yield: 3 quarts

3 pounds uncooked chicken wings
3 quarts water
1 large onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, smashed
1 teaspoon table salt, or more to taste*

Place all ingredients in a slow-cooker. Cook on LOW for 8 to 10 hours or HIGH for 4 to 5.  (I urge you to go the low for 8-10 hours route.)

Strain out chicken parts, onion and garlic. The stock is now ready to use, or, you might prefer to do as we do, and put it in the fridge to chill until any fat solidifies on the top. (Though, there is really very little here, and some might prefer to leave it.) Once defatted, you can now use it or freeze it until needed.

It's me again...

This time I froze the stock in 1 quart containers, but you can also store it flat by pouring 1 quart of the cooled stock into a gallon sized freezer bag.  I've done this in the past and it works great.  

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