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22 November 2011

Making gorgeous stock using your slow cooker

One turkey carcass all cuddled up with its veggies, ready for stock making
As mentioned in a previous posting, once I'd taken all the meat from the Turkey's bones - and I do mean ALL the meat from the bones, no leaving half of it there "because it's too difficult to pick out", I went over it with a fine toothcomb! -  my next job was to make some stock with the carcass.

Now, once upon a time, I used to put the chicken carcass into the big old stock pot with vegetables etc., and boil it on the cooker top.  Then it occurred to me that I had a slow cooker - so why not use that?

So I used to leave the slow cooker on overnight, on low, and decant the stock the following morning.  Right up until I realised that it was the smell of the stock cooking that gave me nightmares!  Real technicolour ones with stereo sound, too.  Not just any old nightmare, but the ones that would leave you out of sorts for the following day.  It wasn't good.  I tried shutting the kitchen door, but the smell wafted out all the same and every time I closed my eyes - nightmares.

Hence, there is now only one way to make stock - to pop the carcass into a freezer bag and store it in the fridge, then make the stock the following day.  No nightmares, lovely stock.  Every one's a winner.

So, whenever you decide to make your stock, this is what you do :

STOCK (Turkey, chicken, beef, lamb, veal - you name it, it'll work)

No! Take the meat off, first!
1.  Take your roasted bones - in this case, a Turkey carcass, and place it in the slow cooker.  Now, I always use all the yukky bits too - but if you're after a clear stock then you need to leave the skin and wobbly bits out.  I throw anything that isn't immediately edible into the stock pot, including the skin, as I feel that it gives the stock extra depth and as I'm not in a restaurant, nobody's going to care if the stock isn't clear!

2.  Add to the slow cooker some, or all, of the following :


- a carrot, unpeeled but with the top and tail trimmed, then cut into four sections.
- an onion, peeled and quartered.
- two garlic cloves, unpeeled, put under the flat of a knife and whacked so that they split.
- two sticks of celery, washed and trimmed - but include any leaves that are on the bunch.
- a bunch of parsley - approx 25-30g, including the stalks.
- at least a teaspoon full of freshly ground black pepper.
- a large pinch of sea salt.
- a bay leaf.


You can be creative with your stock's flavourings, by including such things as Star Anise, Cinnamon, chillies, mustard seeds, black peppercorns, lemon zest, a quartered apple (good for pork stock), but always bear in mind what you're going to be using it for.  For instance, if you're going to want to make a vegetable soup, you won't be wanting lemon zest in there.  If you're going to be making gravy to accompany a pie, you probably won't be wanting Star Anise, with its oriental tones.

Equally, as regards vegetables, you don't want to include things like potato or parsnip, which are likely to disintegrate and cloud the stock.

3.  Once everything is in the slow cooker, pour in enough water to almost cover the contents.  For instance, with a chicken, I'll usually be able to see the breastbone rising above the waves.


4.  Switch it on, to "Full" and leave to cook for 2 hours, then switch it down to "Low" and leave it to cook for however long you want it to (it's unlikely you'll forget about it, as the lovely smell will keep on reminding you!).


5.  When the liquid has taken on a good colour, turn the slow cooker off and give the contents a good old compress with the back of a ladle.  This helps to break up the carcass and release all the lovely flavours.


6.  Place a sieve above a big bowl and slowly pour the stock into the sieve, which should catch any bones or vegetables that fall out of the slow cooker.  Try, as much as possible, to not create a tidal wave as you pour, as it is so much harder to control - and you don't want your kitchen floor to be awash.  In fact, I usually put the bowl and sieve into the sink before I start to pour - just in case.


7.  Before you remove the sieve, give the contents another compress with the back of your ladle, just to squeeze all the available stock from it.


8.  Then, taking two old carrierbags, decant the contents of the sieve into one, then place that in the other and either out onto your compost, or into the bin.


9.  It is very well worth your passing the stock through the sieve one more time, just to make sure you've caught all the lumps - and don't tip the sediment into the bowl of stock.  It just helps to keep the stock as clear as possible.


10.  Next, decant the stock into a large jug (or if you haven't got one, keep it in the bowl) and cling film the top.  Put it in the fridge to cool - and the fat will set on the surface.


11.  (Usually the next day)  Take a spoon and carefully separate the fat from the surface of the stock and discard (into the dog's bowl, is a good place).  Don't be dismayed if your stock has jellified - this is a very good thing and is caused by the gelatin in the bones.


The end result - worth every minute!
12.  You're now ready to decant your stock into smaller containers to either go into the fridge and/or freezer.  I usually find that I've used the stock long before I need to worry about how long it has been in the freezer - but a month should be fine.


Try making gravy with a roux base and your stock - I guarantee you won't have tasted such a great gravy in a long time.

In fact, the gravy I made to accompany the Turkey that we had been sent by Knorr, was so good that it didn't require any input from the Knorr Stock Pots that they'd also sent.  I felt quite guilty about that - but on the other hand, it said a lot for the quality of the stock I'd just made!


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2 comments:

  1. Great minds really do think alike - we made a rabbit stock in our slow cooker a couple of weeks ago using all the pieces of Bugs that we couldn't use in our casserole and it worked like an absolute dream. I'm a convert!

    Sx

    ReplyDelete
  2. Oh well done, you! It is just SO worth it, isn't it? When you get to use the stock in your own recipes, the difference is just incredible.

    ReplyDelete

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