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Chicken Stock in Crock Pot

OK, I'll admit it. I'm a stock novice. I haven't made it on the stove b/c it takes too long. But lately I've been reading about making it in the Crock Pot. My kid is HEAVY into Campbell's soup right now, and it's freaking me out . . . would like to make my own chicken stock w/fun noodles and real chicken and save her from all that salt, BPA, artificial color, etc. etc.

I've searched the board and found some posts, but it seems folks are using leftover bones from roasted chicken. I also understand that people think that using cooked bones can add flavor complexity - but I do not often have cooked bones around, and I'm not sure how much my Campbell's-lovin' kindergartener will appreciate the complexity anyway!

Can I just stick some RAW chicken parts in there, fill the pot w/water, add some seasonings and veggies and let 'er rip for 12 hours or so?

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  1. Your idea is fine. I have never liked the notion (or even the smell) of using dry old bones from the freezer. I use a pressure cooker to save time, but I have used the crock pot overnight, with good results. Two suggestions: cram those chicken parts into the pot densely, and then fill with water to the top of the chicken and vegs, lightly salted; add 1/2 pig's foot to increase the gel content. You'll get a rich stock for soup and sauces, and you can probably get some shredded meat from the parts.

    My main source for chicken parts (backs and necks) is an Asian market where they are fresh and inexpensive.

    2 Replies
    1. re: jayt90

      Any idea of the ratio of pig feet to chicken feet for the same effect? I know my grandmother used chicken feet. It's mazto ball soup season and pork is banned from my home.

      1. re: TampaAurora

        One-half pig's foot is about 8 ounces. This works well for a yield of 4 qt or 1 gal. stock. so 1/2 pound chicken feet should be OK, but if there is more, it will be slightly richer. I haven't had this but my Mennonite relatives say chicken feet and lots of fresh savory makes the best soup!

    2. I do it all the time now. Often with bones left over from de-boning chicken breasts, but sometimes with fresh chicken parts when they're on sale. When drumsticks are cheap, I'll pick up a bunch, throw them in the crock pot with carrots, an onion or leek, parsley, celery, a garlic clove or two, a spoonful of peppercorns and just a touch of salt. Add water to cover generously and switch the cooker to high. Cook for a couple of hours, then turn down to low and let it go for 8 to 10 hours. I'll often start the stock after dinner and let it cook overnight.

      In the morning, strain the broth, discard the solids (or feed to dog/cat/husband) and chill so that you can easily remove the fat. I prefer to leave skin on the chicken when I do this because I think it adds flavour, but it does also add plenty of fat so you have to get rid of it.

      Once you have your de-fatted stock, add fresh carrots, celery, noodles and whatever else you like and you have the best, easiest, cheapest, healthiest chicken soup possible. If you're trying to wean your kid off canned stuff, make sure that you use plenty of chicken when making the stock so that the flavour isn't wishy-washy. Also more salt than you think is healthy - you can reduce this as your child gets accustomed to the more natural flavours of real soup. But at first she/he may find it lacks punch because the canned stuff is full of flavour-enhancers.

      1. I go to the Asian market near me and they have bags of chicken or beef bones for making stock. For chicken I use raw but for beef I brown them in the oven first. The crock pot sounds like a good idea, but we threw ours out a year or so ago as we never seemed to use it & it took up valuable space.

        1. I started making chicken stock in my crock pot about a year ago after reading about it on this board. It really is the easiest, most foolproof way of getting lovely, clear stock. Yes, you can use raw chicken parts with no problem. However, if you want a deeper color, you can always toss all your chicken parts into a 450 degree oven for a bit to roast 'em up before dropping them into your crock pot. The veggies can be roasted, too, if you'd like. And Nyleve is so right about the sodium content of pre-made broths/soups. Your son may find your homemade soup "bland" at first, so definitely make sure you salt your soup sufficiently. Trust me, regardless of how much salt you add yourself, it will still be significantly less sodium than a can of Campbell's soup! BTW, I tend to add salt after making the stock, rather than adding salt to the crock pot mixture. I find it easier to control the final taste that way.

          1. Good suggestions. Something I did for my soup lover kid was make a batch of noodles boiled in salted water and keep them in a zip lock bag or container. They will last several days. Leave them a bit wet before storing and they won't stick too much. The stock/broth should be made ahead of time so you can de-fat it properly. Chicken can be pre-poached and shredded. Then your "instant chicken soup" is simply a matter of heating the stock/broth (maybe have to de-frost first if you are storing quantity), simmer some carrots in it, adjust seasoning, and toss in noodles and chicken meat to heat through before serving. A steaming bowl in barely more than it takes to open the can and heat. You may have to play with the seasoning to get it to your child's liking. Mine liked it with a bit of Maggi powder (I know) and asked for his own pepper grinder.

            1. Thanks for all these helpful replies - an update: I went to our Asian supermarket and got myself a chicken carcass ($1.29!) and tossed that, a couple of huge onions, a couple of huge carrots and a few cloves of smashed garlic in the crock last night around 7 p.m. This a.m. the house smells delicious and there is a bubbling crock of beautiful golden stock in the kitchen! I'm going to get busy w/it after I do the school run, but I think this is going to be a big success. Thanks everyone!

              1. Actually, the only thing use use my crock pot for is stock. Now, having recently acquired a large dutch oven, I question whether I will use it at all.

                2 Replies
                1. re: MaxCaviar

                  Even with a large Dutch oven, the convenience of the crock pot for relatively small amounts of stock is still worth it. If I need a huge vat of chicken broth for a big dinner, I'll do it the conventional stove-top way. If I have a pound or two of chicken bits to use up, I'll do the crock pot. I just would never leave a Dutch oven cooking on the stove top overnight, no matter how low the heat.

                  1. re: Nyleve

                    No argument, the crock pot is more convenient. After all, you just remove the ceramic bowl and toss in the dishwasher, whereas I have to scrub my DO thoroughly. But I'm one of those people who has an irrational like for anything cast iron.

                    As to the matter of unattended heat, I can put the DO in my oven and set the timer so it shuts off by itself.

                2. You can absolutely use raw chicken parts. Wings, necks, and feet will give you an unctuous and tasty stock. If you're using thighs, legs, or breasts, I'd pull them out once the meat is done, pull the meat off the bone, and toss the bones back in to cook some more. Then you can add the meat back to the soup when it's time to serve it up. If you let the meat cook the whole time, it will be flavorless, dry, and stringy.

                  1. I routinely make chicken stock in the crock pot. Put four raw leg-thigh pieces in with one large chopped onion and two or three chopped ribs of celery, plus salt. I fill the crockpot with water within an inch of the top and nothing terrible has happened. Cook a long time (like overnight). Strain through a colander into a mixing bowl. You can then refrigerate the stock conveniently in large Mason jars or freeze it in pints or quarts or just make soup of it. If you want to de-fat it, the jars make this easy as the fat congeals on top. BTW the chicken meat will be useless for further duty---the flavor is played out and it's very shreddy, plus it's full of treacherous little bone bits. I have valiantly tried to utilize it and have given up. Also, I have made crock-pot stock using the carcass of a roast chicken. The stock is not as chickeny and flavorful but the method is do-able.

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: Querencia

                      Whenever we pick up a rotisserie chicken at the grocery store we do that. I just remove the meat for whatever meal we are having then chuck the carcass in the crock pot with the usual accompaniments. Perfect every time. And stock is EXPENSIVE these days, not to mention flavorless.

                      1. re: MaxCaviar

                        This is how I made my chicken broth. I strained it twice and put it in containers in the fridge. I just took a peek. It isn't gelatinous and has quite a bit of sediment on the bottom. Should I toss it? Everyone says how easy it is, but it took a lot of my attention for two days, and the result was disappointing. I'm not sure I'll try it again. Not even sure what I did wrong.

                        1. re: Maremacd

                          Well, no, of course don't toss it. Just simmer it down until it has enough flavor. You probably just didn't use enough bones for the amount of water you used. Basically the water should just cover the solids.

                          If the sediment bothers you just leave it behind when you pour the broth out of the containers.

                          1. re: acgold7

                            Thanks. Actually, I decided to strain it through a couple layers of cheese cloth. I used some last night to cook some rice and vegetables. It was great!

                      2. re: Querencia

                        I'm planning to buy a crock pot and wondering what size is the most useful. I'm planning to cook stews and soup stock for a family of three. It seems like a large capacity (like 9 quart) one would make sense for stock but that size may not be as useful for cooking other things for a family my size. What do you suggest?

                        1. re: matsutake

                          I have a 4-quart that's marginally useful - it tends to be too small for many jobs. I had a 9-quart that was problematic, too - the crock was very large, heavy, and unwieldy, and I ended up breaking it by dropping it in the sink while attempting to wash it. I replaced it with a 6-quart, which seems to hit the sweet spot.

                      3. i would be curious about how long it takes to get raw chicken parts and the water to cover them up to over 140 degrees? seems like it would take a really long time in a crock pot, and under that temp, bacteria multiplies rapidly.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: chez cherie

                          But once you hit 140, all the bacteria are dead within a minute or two. Unless you taste the stock while it's tepid, you've got nothing to worry about.

                          1. re: chez cherie

                            I pressure can my stock in the end anyway. I've been doing crock pot stock for years.

                          2. I'll frequently take a whole chicken, season it, and place it in the crockpot over potatoes, onions, carrots and any other veggies I have on hand (no liquid). Cook it on low for 6-8 hours. At the end of that time, the chicken will be more tender than any rotisserie chicken. The only drawback is that the skin doesn't get crisp or brown but since I'm watching my weight, it's better to not have the temptation. The bones practically fall out of the chicken when removing it from the crockpot. I usually get two to three meals out of the cooked chicken.

                            With the bones and veggies still in the crockpot, I add water and any additional seasonings then put the crockpot on low and let it go all night. In the morning, after straining the liquid, I have a minimal effort but amazingly tasty stock.

                            1. Not totally On topic?!? My SIL makes this crock pot chicken that is really tasty. She puts an oven-stuffer in crock pot and pours small bottle of fat-free Italian dressing over top. Then just slaps on the lid and goes to work. Don't know where it comes from, but she ends up with a crock pot FULL of tasty broth/stock and a chicken that's falling apart! She adds diced celery, carrots, onions and rice, noodles or little pasta for soup.

                              Last time I made stock was back in the dead of winter... too cold to do anything outdoors and I was looking for ANY excuse to avoid house work! One of the supermarkets I go to has a great policy of seriously reducing prices on beef/chicken/pork when it's 203 BEFORE sell by date. The had packages (2 each) of cornish hens at half price, so that's what I used. BIG pot, little birds, celery/onions/carrots, bay leaf, etc. I don't salt until I know what I'm gonna do with the stock. If already salted & reduced can be WAY to salty.

                              I just cannot toss chicken bones (from grilled, baked, roasted... whole or pieces) without getting every last drop of goodness outta them. Bones + water +CCO + a simmer = several cups of stock at the least to cook things like rice in, instead of water.

                              1. Chicken feet make great stock; they're loaded with keratin. And they can be had very cheaply at most Asian markets.