Self-Care Tip #4: Crock Pot, Star of the Kitchen

As my beloved and I embark on a slightly different way of eating, I am reminded of the importance of my seven-quart crock pot. It’s been a good friend to me, cooking up delicious broths (vegetable, chicken, and beef bone) year after year. Occasionally, when I’m feeling unwell, I eat some of the chicken broth. But generally speaking, all of the broth (or stock) goes into making soups that we’ve come to love. In the weeks ahead, I expect to be making more soups as we eliminate grains and dairy and add even more greens and veggies.

If you’ve never made stock in a crock pot, I ask you: What are you waiting for?!

The process I’m about to describe calls for chicken, but I’ve also made mirepoix and beef broth. Any of these are easy.

This one yields stock on hand, anywhere from 3 to 5 quarts, depending on bird size, for a variety of uses, plus leftover chicken that can be made into chicken salad. Folks may have other ideas about how to use the meat (and I’d love to hear from you about how you use leftover chicken), but this is the best way I have found.

Here’s how I make stock (the crock pot, of course, does 80 percent of the work!):

Place a whole chicken in the crock pot. (I include heads and feet whenever I have them. They add collagen and make for a richer stock.)

PlaceChickenInCrockPot

We got this chicken from P.A. Bowen Farmstead in Southern P.G. County. These birds are not fed soy and roam on pasture.

Add apple cider vinegar. I use at least two and sometimes three or four large spoonfuls. The vinegar helps to draw minerals out of the bones.

I generally use an organic apple cider vinegar for this step.

I generally use an organic apple cider vinegar for this step.

Add water to cover. Usually, the water does not quite cover the entire bird, but it’s pretty close. I am careful not to overfill the crock after having had some greasy mishaps.

We use a Berkey dual-stage filter to take the chlorine and fluoride out of our water.

We use a Berkey dual-stage filter to take the chlorine and fluoride out of our water.

Cook on low setting for 10 to 12 hours. Others say to cook the bird longer, but this is what I’ve found works best for me.

Once the cook time is up, I move the ceramic pot into the fridge where it can cool. (I have also taken up the stock immediately, pouring it into glass jars that I then let cool in the fridge. But I’ve gotten a little lazy, so letting the bird and stock cool in the ceramic pot is a happy compromise.)

PickingtheChicken

It’s a slimy job, but somebody’s gotta do it!

When cool, take out the bird and pick. We remove the skin and the bones.

Many soups call for one or two quarts of stock. These containers make it easy to measure those amounts…or approximate, which is what I usually do.

Ladle the chilled stock into quart-sized plastic tubs. I don’t much care for plastic, but this is what has worked for us. Someday, when I have time, I will experiment with filling glass jars half-full with stock and freezing those. I’ve heard it works, but you have to be very careful about not filling too much lest the glass breaks.

Label the tubs and freeze.

Once the chicken has been picked, make chicken salad.

I almost always use tarragon in chicken salad.

I do this by shredding the chicken into smaller pieces, blending in the spices (tarragon, curry powder, coriander) and salt to taste, cutting up and blending in apples, along with the all-important mayo. We may look for something else to use in lieu of the mayo on the new diet.

A “side” effect of chicken stock!

It is wonderful to have a ready supply of stock on hand when the soup-bug bites! You can also make medicinal broth with the addition of various herbs and mushrooms. It’s nice to freeze these and have them ready to be thawed when someone comes down with cold or flu.

P.A. Bowen Farmstead in Brandywine, Maryland, is a grass-based farm that offers soy-free, pastured poultry and eggs, among many other pasture-raised animal foods.

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