One my routines every two weeks is to cook up a bunch of split breast chicken and then store it in the fridge or freezer so that it is ready to use to expedite meal prep. As a result of making my chicken, I get delicious, free stock. My kind of bargain.
I use chicken stock a lot for various recipes, but I also like to cook rice, and sometimes pasta, in stock instead of water. It's a chance to infuse plain rice (or pasta) with tons of flavor. If I had to buy the stock for all our uses, that would get quite expensive.
Here's an easy way to make your own...and also have cooked chicken on hand to add to your dishes. I used to do this process with a whole chicken in a large stock pot, which was fine. But now, thanks to my friend Dawn, I use Split Breasts in a crock pot. It's much easier to prepare, I get all breast meat, and I don't have to deal with picking the meat off of a whole chicken.
(You'll definitely want to use bone-in meat to get a fabulous, rich stock. And, split breasts are much cheaper than boneless, skinless chicken.)
First, place a few carrots, celery stalks, and quartered onions in a crock pot. (I was out of onions the day I made this batch, so I just used minced onions) If you don't have these veggies on hand, you can still make a basic stock without them. The veggies give your stock a richer taste, but you'll still have a great stock without them.
Next, place two to six split breasts (or a whole chicken), depending on how much chicken and stock you want, on top of veggies. Remember, you can freeze your meat and stock, so go ahead and max out your crock pot so that you don't have to do this as often. Season your chicken with pretty much whatever you want. You can keep it as basic as salt and pepper or go to town with lots of different seasonings. Just keep in mind to go easy on the salt because you will be using your broth in other recipes that may already contain salty ingredients, so go light. Here, I used a little salt, pepper, marjoram, a couple bay leaves, and garlic powder.
Next add water. It doesn't really matter how much you add. The general rule is that less water equals a more concentrated broth....more water, less concentrated. I usually make six split breasts at a time, and I add about four to six cups of water.
Now, cover those babies up, set your crock pot on high, and go do something fun and exciting for the next four hours. Or, school the children, nurse the baby, and change diapers like I do. ;-)
Okay...four hours is up. Doesn't that look yummy? And doesn't your house smell soooo good? Now, take the chicken out and set it on a plate to cool.
With a slotted spoon, fish out all the big chunks of veggies and carefully pour the broth through a strainer.
EDIT: Nowadays, I de-bone the chicken and throw all the bones, skin, cartilage, etc. back into the crock pot and cook on low for about 24 hours. This yields a much richer, more nutritious stock. If you're short on time, however, my original method is still great!
Allow to cool before placing in fridge or freezer. Stock will keep up to two weeks in the fridge if stored in air tight container. You can store in the freezer for months.
Once chicken is warm to the touch, begin de-boning and de-skinning. Is de-skinning even a word?
It's easier to do if the meat is slightly warm.
And here you have it...shredded chicken and wonderful, homemade broth. Wasn't that easy? ........Say yes!
Once your broth cools in the fridge, the fat will solidify at the top. This is great because you can scrape it right off and either toss it out or use it to make gravy.
Here are the stats: For my six split breasts, I got a little more than 6 cups of stock and 10 cups of shredded chicken. Not bad, huh!
Did you find this tutorial helpful? Are you already making your own broth and have any tips or helpful hints to add? Please share! :)