The Story of Stock and a Crock Pot

I am old fashioned in many ways.  I still make my own stock when I can and will share how easy this is to do with a Crock Pot as your tool.  This is also a great way to...

Beef Stock

I am old fashioned in many ways.  I still make my own stock when I can and will share how easy this is to do with a Crock Pot as your tool.  This is also a great way to eliminate preservatives and sodium from your diet.  I do use jarred/boxed stocks, but I prefer creating my own.

As I cook throughout the week, I save the ends of green beans, leaves of celery, onion skins and top bruised layers of the onions, carrot ends, stems of herbs, stems of mushrooms, the core of a head of cauliflower, stalks of broccoli, small garlic gloves, kale veins, and sometimes fresh parsley, thyme, basil and rosemary too.  I collect all of this goodness in a gallon sized Ziploc plastic bag in my freezer and when I am ready to make stock I dump these ends into my crock-pot, cover with about 2 ½ quarts of water, adding a generous shake of garlic salt and cracked ground black pepper to this collection of vegetable goodness and post the crock pot on high overnight.  In the morning, after 10-12 hours, the stock provided is rich and delicious and the house smells amazing too!

In the morning, turn this off, let the stock start to cool in the Crock Pot and then strain the golden liquid and store.

Crock Pot
Crock Pot

Some Hints:

  • A few onions skins will add to the rich color of the stock.  Make certain they are very clean before adding to your bag of vegetable ends.
  • Be mindful of adding some herbs.  Cilantro and mint, for example are not welcomed to my stock pot as these would produce a very specific flavor.
  • I will wait until the gallon size Ziploc bag is full of diverse vegetable ends before I will make this stock.
  • I will store this stock in the refrigerator for up to three days, but I will freeze in 2 cups Ziploc bags if I do not have an immediate need for this amber liquid.

The recipe I posted above can also incorporate meat bones for a flavored stock.  A rich beef stock can be provided and be the base for a French Onion Soup.  I am sharing my recipe below.   A ham bone can be added and create a remarkable stock to cook some Red Beans and Rice, or a Chicken carcass can give a little bit more by creating a rich stock for a homemade Chicken Soup. That Crock Pot comes in very handy for the Part II of my French Onion Soup.  A chef once shared this secret with me and I have told many how to save time caramelizing the onions as the base for this traditional soup.  I have not created these onions on the stove-top since I learned this trick!

French Onion Soup

Clean your onions, discarding both ends.  Slice onions in half and create thin half-moon slices of onions.  Layer in Crock Pot.  As you have the first 1/3 of the pot filled with your onion slices, stop and add about three tablespoons of butter after generously salting and peppering this layer. Create another layer of onions, adding butter and salt and pepper to this layer.  Create the final layer filling the crock pot and topping this final layer with the remaining stick of butter along with salt and pepper.

Turn the Crock Pot on high over night and after 8 – 10 hours you will have a reduced pot of onions that are golden and delicious. Usually my onions reduce to about half with this method. I always get asked if these onions have ever burned on me, and the answer is no.  If you do not wait for the 8 – 10 hours, they are not as golden and delicious as they can be.  Stir in the morning, if this is not as Golden as you desire, keep cooking these onions.  Waiting is key for this success.  My Crock Pot can hold about 3 – 4 pounds of Onions.  I usually use Yellow Onions, but I have also created with Sweet Vidalia Onions.

To finish this soup.  In a Dutch Oven on the stovetop, I start by warming the onions over Medium Heat.  Then adding in about ½ - ¾ cup of flour to thicken.  Cook the flour and the onions for at least 4 - 5 minutes to remove the raw flour taste.  Then add the Beef or Vegetable Stock depending on your preference.  Cook for about 15 minutes still on a medium heat and then check for seasonings.  This is a great vegetarian option if you use your vegetable stock.

Serve this soup hot with seasoned bread cubes and Gruyere cheese or Cheese toasts that you have created layering Gruyere cheese on slices of a baguette and toasting in the oven.  I can promise the seasoned bread cubes topped with cheese are the easiest to eat!  I season my bread cubes in olive oil and in this case an Italian Blend of Spices.

Stock and French Onion Soup created with the kitchen time-saver the Crock-Pot!