Making your own chicken stock is easy and economical—and you can get a few meals out of just one slow cooking session if you get crafty.
I love to make my own chicken stock because it definitely beats the taste of store-bought broth and also because I know exactly what’s in it and can choose how much or how little salt I want. If it’s too rich for you once it’s done, remember you can always add water to dilute it. I use a Kenmore 7-quart slow cooker and while that may sound large, I only get about 6-8 cups of rich broth after removing the vegetables and the chicken.
Slow cooking a chicken leaves the meat moist and gets it to the point that it falls off the bone. The last time I made a chicken in the slow cooker, I was able to get three meals out of it plus a few cups of leftover broth.
A few tips:
- Set the slow cooker on your counter top away from anything that might touch the sides. The outside wall of the slow cooker will get hot to the touch, so you don’t want it too close to anything that could get burned (especially plastic or paper). Make sure there is sufficient breathing room above the slow cooker so you can easily lift and replace the lid.
- Freeze any leftover broth that you know you won’t use within one week; freezer-safe containers, plastic zippered bags or even ice cube trays are all great ways to save the broth for future use. The broth ice cubes are particularly useful for a low-fat option to saute vegetables in place of butter or oil (a trick my mom taught me).
- 1 whole chicken
- 1-2 onions (white or yellow), sliced
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 bay leaf or a few small sprigs of parsley
- chopped carrots
Begin by layering the sliced onion on the bottom of the slow cooker. If you choose to also use carrots, chop them and place them along the bottom as well. Place the chicken over the onions and sprinkle with salt and pepper. (You may want to add more salt later to taste, so don’t use too much to start.) If you’re using a bay leaf or parsley, tuck it on the side of the chicken.
Fill the crock with enough water to almost cover the entire chicken. Place the lid on the top and turn on the slow-cooker to the low setting. Allow it to cook for 8-10 hours. I like to set mine in the morning before work so that it’s done by the time I return home for dinner.
When it’s all done cooking, it should look similar to the photo at the top of this post. Enjoy!