Stocked Up

Here’s the basic chicken stock recipe I was inspired to make by Ellen Brown’s $3 Meals , except I used what I had and put it all into a 5 quart crockpot overnight on low.  A lot of recipes I see and want to make call for chicken broth/stock or bouillon cubes.  In a pinch I have used and grew up using bouillon cubes, but looking at the store lately as I’ve gotten into the habit of reading the ingredients on the labels, I noticed almost every single brand uses MSG, or monosodium glutamate, which can cause headaches and illness in some people, etc.  Some products will have this ingredient and just label it as “other seasonings” or “other spices” or something vague like that.  If not every ingredient is openly named, I am wary of buying the product.  But in any case, I enjoy making my own stuff and saving money doing so.  I like being somewhat self-reliant.  I figure if a food is on the shelf at the supermarket, it’s there because once upon a time somebody had made it at home and enough people wanted it that it ended up on a production line and in the supermarket; so there’s a way to do it homemade again!  Chicken stock is one of the simpler DIY ingredients in a lot of things, and you can easily freeze it (I’m not brave enough for canning stuff yet).  Even though those boxes or cans of chicken broth are sooo tempting as shortcuts, they can be pricey and are not as healthy as fresh.

5ish lbs skin-on bone-in chicken thighs… and any other chicken bones I had saved in the freezer for making stock (only about from 5 thighs from last time making stock) as well as a ham bone that I’d already used once in a ham and bean slow-cooker soup.
1+ cup chopped celery (I love how fast chopping celery goes in my food processor!  I do carrots and onions at the same time, too)
1+ cup chopped carrots
1+ cup chopped onions
2 Tbsp minced garlic 
(one of the few things I buy pre-prepared in a jar since I can find it at the Dollar Tree store!)
2 Tbsp parsley, dried
3/4 tsp thyme 
(I used less than most recipes because my hubby doesn’t love this herb)
1 1/2 tsp crushed bay leaves or 2 whole
1 tsp black pepper
sea salt
aaaand next time I will add some sage, up to 1 tsp I think.  This needed a little more oomph.
top off with Water to about 1 or 1/2 inch from the crockpot lid
(makes about 4 qt of stock that I freeze, and I get about 2+ cups of cooked shredded chicken for enchiladas or whatever else).

I was happy with how thick this turned out, simply with the addition of a few more soup bones.  So each time I make stock, I let the crockpot cool in the fridge overnight (or longer since I never seem to get to things right away) and then scoop off the saturated layer of fat on top to discard, as well as the chicken skin and icky stuff, but saving the bones in a freezer baggie for next batch of chicken stock.

A good rule of thumb is to use this up from your refrigerator within a week and a half, or freezer within 3 months (I use it up way faster than that!!  It’s winter–i.e. soup season!)

My favorite quick go-to meal using chicken stock/broth is egg-drop “hot” ‘n sour soup with noodles in it (basically egg-drop soup with soy sauce, worcestershire sauce added to it), .  My little one even likes it if I thicken it enough for him to spoon up into his mouth easily, or if I help him drink it from a little mug.  

Today I used 3 cups of it for the above and 3 cups for 2 chicken pot pies.  “Instant” flavor as a base for whatever I want to make with it.
What would I do without my crockpots?  Best $5 (for 1 qt size) and $19 (Aldi sale–5 qt) I ever spent.  Crockpots and slowcookers only take up the amount of energy as a 60 watt light bulb I read once.  How cool!

  

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