SLOW COOKER CHICKEN BROTH : Caldo de Pollo
Using the slow cooker to make broth is much easier than fussing over a stockpot, and it yields perfect broths that are clear and delicious. You can use this simple broth, with its light flavor and golden color, to enrich a multitude of simple soups and rice dishes. Since the broth freezes beautifully, always keep some on hand so you have a head start whenever you want to make homemade soup. That alone is a good reason in invest in a 6- or 7-quart slow cooker, even if you usually only cook for two.
Makes 12 cups
1 small carrot, peeled and diced
1 celery stalk, diced
1 large white onion, diced
10 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley or fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 large clove garlic, halved
2 dried bay leaves
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 ancho chile, stemmed, seeded, and toasted
3 pounds meaty chicken wing tips or backs and necks
12 cups water
Combine all the ingredients in a 6- or 7-quart slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours. Remove the lid, turn off the cooker, and allow the broth to cool and settle for 30 minutes.
Set a colander over a large bowl. Using a slotted spoon or skimmer, carefully lift all the solids from the cooker without scraping the bottom and drain them in the colander. Use a ladle or large measuring cup to remove the remaining broth from the slow cooker and pass through the colander. (Be careful not to disturb any of the small bits on the bottom; these will make the broth cloudy. Pour the last remnants of the broth and the bits on the bottom into a separate container and discard.) Do not press down on the solids in the colander, but allow the broth to drain on its own for 15 minutes. Once it has stopped dripping, discard the solids in the colander. Let the broth cool to room temperature and then chill. Before freezing it or using it in a recipe, remove any layer of fat that floats to the surface.
• To turn this broth into a quick and simple soup, substitute a whole chicken or 3 pounds of chicken pieces for the wing tips. Cook, covered, on low for 8 hours, then strain and defat the broth as described above. Remove the skin and bones from the chicken and discard, then shred the meat. In large soup pot, combine the broth and shredded chicken and add diced carrots, corn, and any other vegetables you like, plus rice, noodles, or cooked garbanzo beans. Simmer on the stove top until the vegetables are cooked, about 30 minutes. Season to taste with salt before serving.