I have secretly wanted a slow cooker for a really, really, really long time.
However I have resisted as *apparently* I have way too many kitchen gadgets, plus a Le Creuset pot that slow cooks beautifully.
In the oven.
Which means it heats the whole house up. Which is great if you live in Melbourne. Or Hobart.
Not so great in Brisbane. Especially in summer.
Although it is handy in winter as I can relocate my office to be in front of the oven.
But anyway. One quick purchase later and I’m the proud owner of a 6 litre slow cooker.
The main reason I wanted it was to cook bone broths. I’ve talked before about my new-found love of bone broths, especially chicken bone broth. It has loads of health benefits, mostly healing benefits for those of us with dodgy guts. Something I have been afflicted with for many years. In fact, my nickname when I was at uni (the first time around) was dodgy guts, particularly after a rather nasty and prolonged bout of giardia. My doc at the time did warn me I would feel the effects for the rest of my life, and I generally am. Bleugh. I’d make a great food tester for the American President. Anything dodgy that goes in come straight back out. You get the picture.
Anyway, back to the bone broth. Sally Fallon, in her wonderful book Nourishing Traditions, talks at length at the healing and health benefits of regularly consuming bone broths. The gelatin in properly prepared bone broth aids digestion and can help treat many intestinal disorders including hyperacidity, colitis and Crohn’s disease. You can tell that your broth has gelatin by chilling it – if it becomes jelly-like, it has gelatin. If it’s runny it’s still good for you, but you probably didn’t have enough bone when you cooked it. Or you had too much water.
So how do you make a good chicken bone broth? Easy.
Chicken bone broth – in a 6 litre slow cooker
What you need:
- 1 whole chicken (preferably organic)
- 2-3 chicken carcasses (you can buy these from your local butcher, or leftover from a roast – I freeze all my chicken bones after a roast dinner and use them)
- 4-6 chicken feet (from an Asian butcher – my local butcher looks askance at me when I ask for them 🙂 )
- 2-3 carrots, chopped into 3-4 pieces
- 1 onion, chopped into quarters (skin and all)
- any manky looking (but not mouldy) green veg or bunches of herbs lingering in the fridge – I’ve used coriander, basil, parsley, fennel. DO NOT USE cabbage or other brassicas. If I think of it I also save the ends of veggies I cut off and freeze them to use in broths. But they tend to get fed to the crazy chickens.
- 3-4 cloves of garlic
- 6-10 peppercorns
- 1 big teaspoon of celtic sea salt
- 1/3 cup of apple cider vinegar with a mother (I use Braggs) – most important ingredient as it helps draw out all the goodness
- 2-3 litres of filtered water to within 2cm of the top of the slow cooker
What you do:
Pop everything in your slow cooker and turn it on high for about 3-4 hours. When the whole chicken is cooked (about 3-4 hours), remove it and let cool. Strip off the meat to eat later, return the bones and skin to the slow cooker. Add more water to top up. Turn the heat to low and let it cook for another 20 hours or so.
Chicken bone broth needs to simmer for about 24 hours.
Before I had a slow cooker I cooked it in my 4 litre Le Creuset pot. I just used a bit less of everything. I cooked it on the stove until it came to the boil and then popped it in the oven for 24 hours on 100c, topping up with water every 6 hours.
Once it’s cooked, strain it (I use a chux lined colander) and store the broth in the fridge (I store it in glass jars). If it has a seal of fat on the top (once chilled), it will last for two weeks in the fridge, about four days without the fat seat. Or you can freeze it. I pour it into silicon muffin trays and ice-cube trays to freeze, then pop the frozen blocks out and store them in a zip lock bag. You can freeze in glass, but I’ve had too many breakages, even when doing it “the right way”.
I use the cooked broth in loads of ways:
- I add it to soups, casseroles, curries, pasta sauces
- cook rice, quinoa, risotto, potatoes with it
- you can drink it as a warm drink (I don’t like it this way)
- poach eggs in it for breakfast (yum!).
Basically use it however you would use liquid stock or a stock cube.
Do you make your own broths? What do you use them for? If you haven’t, why not give it a go. It’s so easy!