So I was on a chat session a while back and a couple subjects came up. Actually, it was somewhat a debate. The thought was the use of crock pots/slow cookers and how someone would use them. The discussion was fun but civil. As it relates to the use of a slow cooker, I'm pretty neutral as I think about it. It depends on how much time I have and what I'm making. You might be curious of how the discussion went? Well, it went like this. The question was about the use of a slow cooker and how do you use them. Well. As you can see below, the responses were pretty spirited. Please notice the comment I placed in "italics" to set the table for what I'm writing about.So this is how it went down in a nutshell. There was more so if you're curious, use the #FNIChat and go to the date of the discussion. So being somewhat the outside thinker, I decided to try something different. Someone did mention using the slow cooker for making stock. I bought a whole rotisserie chicken from a local store. As I drove home, it dawned in me. What would I do with the carcass once I ate the chicken. Then decided to embrace a "Mind of a Chef" moment (or my version of it anyway). What if I decided to make a stock from my slow cooker? That's what I did and there were some pluses and minuses but neither were too difficult to overcome. As I said before, things on this blog do not always look pretty but it will taste good.
This is what I did first. I deboned the chicken (which you can see on the right) and separated the meat from the bones). You may not see this, but I did leave some meat on the bones (not very much but enough). Then I took the remaining chicken meat and put it in the fridge. That was the easy part.
Now before I put the chicken away, I decided to mix some tomato salsa and sun dried tomatoes for some extra flavor.
Here's what remains of the carcass. Before I put the bones in the slow cooker, I decided to season the bones before I put them in the slow cooker. I covered the bones with grape seed oil (since I didn't have either olive or avocado oil). I used the basics (salt, pepper, and garlic powder since I had not fresh on hand) as well as 1/2 a yellow onion, Hungarian Hot Paprika (since I'm the only one eating this), peppercorns, and crushed bay leaves. I felt that would make a nice mix and figured than some of that flavor would stick to the bones and meat.
|This is the mix I mentioned just before adding to the slow cooker.|
What you see below is the result. I left this cook for 12 hours on low temperature (since I knew I was going to be gone all day). The result was pretty intense but good. That is what I went for. It took about 45 minutes to fully cool down. I took a strainer and took out most of the excess onion and all the bones. This stock was intense enough to the point where I could dilute it with some water and still be edible. I used probably 1 quart or so
I will revisit this stock within the next week or two. What I found out caught my attention. One of the pluses of this is that if you don't have time to sit in front of a pot, this could be a solid way out. As a whole, I'm very pleased with how this turned out. In other words, put on and forget it. While you do what you need to do, this stock can cook and will be ready when you get home. VERY convenient as I see it. Now the minus side. The biggest one is seasoning. Some debate one way or the other but most people I know season their stock as they go. In this case, I couldn't. I found myself seasoning this as it began to cool down. I did wait about 15 minutes before turning the cooker off but did begin to season the stock at that time. It took about 45 minutes for me to season it to my liking. It took about that long to cool down as well. In other words, the seasoning could be tricky to get right if you're in a hurry. If you wanted to thicken the stock, that could a trick especially with that much water (about 3 quarts). So if you want something thicker, you'll definitely want to do that in the early stages while the water is still cold. Or at the very least, consider that. You also must remember what you put in the stock (e.g., peppercorns in this case). I may also add the salsa after the stock has cooled down or at least more of it than I used. I did strain and put away the remaining stock (about a quart).
So sure, I get it. It's cheating a bit. Not the pure "foodie" play. Let the cooker do the work for you.What can I do with a slow cooker that you can't do with a normal pot? Very little at face level but there's more than meets the eye. Drop it and forget it. If you're not home for long periods but need to eat, what are you going to do? Take out not only gets expensive but gets as played out as a Spice Girls song. I don't want to be rude, but I'm going to use what's at my disposal when it comes to cooking. This is especially true if you live alone. Would I PREFER to use s stove top? Absolutely. Sometimes, that isn't possible and the slow cooker is just one avenue to achieve a good meal. I won't say sorry for that. For a first time experiment, I think this turned out well. Soon, you'll see what I did with the remaining stock. I have a few ideas but need to give this more though. Now when you can say you've stood over a BBQ grill (charcoal) for over 6 hours, call me. I think that alone give me the right to cheat just a little bit.
1. Picture taken from: http://lumdimsum.com/2009/12/14/soup-nazi-herbal-cafe/