A major benefit of making roast chicken for dinner is that the fun has not ended once you've devoured all of your chicken and vegetables. That haggard carcass may not look appetizing, but the broth/stock that you make will be delicious!
Stock vs Broth
Is there even a difference? Technically, yes, though the terms are often used interchangeably. According to Alton Brown, one of my all-time favorite humans, stock is made by boiling strictly the bones and connective tissue of whatever animal you're cooking in water, whereas broth is a liquid in which meat has been cooked. What most of us typically end up with is a hybrid of the two, a liquid in which meat, bones, connective tissue and other ingredients (usually vegetables, herbs, salt and pepper) have been cooked. Because I'm not a purist, I will use the terms interchangeably.
Why is making broth worth the effort?
While store-bought broth is totally fine, nothing from the shelf compares to soup made with homemade broth when it comes to flavor quality. Most people would not consider heating up boxed broth and drinking it plain from a mug, but homemade is 100% worthy of solo consumption, especially if you're feeling under the weather. Broth is also incredibly freezer friendly and can be easily stored for later use to make your recipes even more delicious and healthy.
Slow Cooker Chicken Broth
Yield dependent on size of slow cooker; I get around 8 cups from mine, which is 6-quart
Ingredients and Supplies*:
*based on use of 6 quart slow cooker
After making roast chicken, carve and save or eat all edible meat. You can keep fat and skin on the carcass or discard them. A broth made with more fat/skin will be oilier, richer and more flavorful, whereas one without skin and/or fat will be lighter and blander. Remove any leftover items from the cavity, including lemons, apples, garlic, and herbs. If you don't have time to start the broth after dinner, the carcass can be stored in a ziplock bag in the fridge for up to 2 days or in the freezer for up to 4 months
Place the carcass in your slow cooker along with a carrot, a stock of celery, and some herbs (all optional). Because these items are for flavor and will be discarded before serving, is not important to peel or cut off the ends of these ingredients. However, do make sure that they cleaned well so as not to contribute any dirt or debris to the liquid - sandy broth is no fun.
Once your vegetables are in the pot of the slow cooker, fill almost to the top with water (leave a bit of space, around a half an inch will do). I like to use filtered water (from a brita), but that is because my tap water in Boston has a bit of a metallic taste. Up to you whether you use water from the tap or filtered. Finally, add the apple cider vinegar.
Turn your slow cooker to the "low" setting and your active work is done! I recommend simmering for around 24 hours, but as long as your cooking for at least 10 you'll be pleased with your results. An optional step before removing the broth from heat is to remove excess fat that has gathered at the top of your pot before filtering with a spoon. This choice will depend on how much flavor you want in your final product - if you are using the broth as an ingredient, blander is usually better. If you're using it as a soup base, a richer broth will mean more delicious (and caloric) soup.
Once you've decided that the pot has simmered for long enough, place a colander over a pot and line with cheese cloth. I've found that it works best to clip the cheese cloth to the colander with clothespins (chip clips also work in a pinch!) to ensure it doesn't slip while you filter the broth. Pour your broth over the colander to remove particles and extra fat.
The number of uses for your broth is really broad - here are a few ideas to get you started:
1. Drink from a mug with some salt as a standalone snack
2. Freeze into an ice cube tray and use for cooking when a recipe calls for a bit of broth (meat sauce reductions, quinoa and rice, etc).
3. Use as a base for soup