My biggest news this week is that I just adopted a new dog. My new boy's name is Zeke and he came from Best Friends Animal Society in Utah. He is a hound mix, not a golden retriever like Luke is. When I volunteered at Best Friends earlier in the month, Zeke was one of our sleepover dogs. He is 12 years old, a senior boy, and the sweetest friendliest old guy. His former owners had left him at Animal Control in Los Angeles (which is fortunately a no-kill shelter). Zeke had a number of health issues, including being quite overweight, needing to visit the doggie dentist, and having arthritis in his hips and knees, and Best Friends made sure he got the care he needed. After I came home from Utah, I kept thinking (and worrying about Zeke), so I contacted Best Friends about him, and the short version of the story is that he traveled via United Airlines to Chicago last Friday. He has been with us for a week and is settling in. He is still learning the household routine and establishing boundaries with Luke and Teddy (like letting them know when they are getting too close when Zeke is eating).
I often need chicken stock or broth for recipes and was quite surprised to learn that not all commercially available stocks and broths are gluten free. You need to read the label, and unless it specifically states that the stock or broth is gluten-free, assume that it has gluten in it or was made in a factory that also processes wheat. Even some of the organic brands contain gluten. Aldi, Trader Joe and Costco's Kirkland brand of stock or broth all state on the label that they are gluten-free.
Of course, the best chicken stock is the homemade kind. Not only do you know for sure that it's gluten free, it's delicious! You can also control the amount of salt in the recipe. The recipe for slow cooker chicken stock is based on my grandmother's chicken stock recipe, except she used to simmer the stock on the stovetop. When she would roast a chicken on Sundays, she would pick as much meat as she could off the bones and save the carcass, the neck, the back, and the drippings from the roasting pan for chicken stock. She would scrape everything into a big kettle, add vegetables and water, bring it to a boil, then lower the heat and let it all simmer for hours. Making the stock in the slow cooker means I can turn the slow cooker on when I leave for work and come home to at least a half gallon of hot chicken stock and a house that smells like heaven. Since you're working from cooked bones, there is no foam to have to skim off the top like there is when you make broth from raw chicken. This method works well with turkey bones, too, so don't throw out that Thanksgiving turkey carcass (note that turkey stock is usually fattier than chicken stock). The dogs absolutely LOVE a ladle of warm stock over their kibble. Enjoy as is with vegetables and/or cooked rice, or in recipes.
Slow Cooker Chicken Stock:
1 chicken carcass or the bones from 4 chicken breasts or leg quarters, with cooked skin and roasting pan drippings
1 large onion, peeled and cut into eighths
2 carrots, washed or peeled and cut into four pieces
2 celery ribs, washed and cut into four pieces
1 t. salt
1 T. dried parsley
Place all ingredients except water into the crock of your slow cooker. Add enough water to cover everything and stir to mix ingredients. Water should be about 1/2 inch from the top of the crock. Cover, plug in, and turn on low setting. Allow to cook for 8-10 hours - don't lift the lid while the stock is cooking, as this will just add to the cooking time. You can let the stock cook for up to 14 hours, since the slow cooker heat is so low and even.
When the stock is finished, allow it to cool slightly. If you have the lift-out kind of crock on your slow cooker, remove the crock and place it on a cooling rack for about an hour. Strain the stock into a large storage container or a 3-quart stockpot. Cover and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, remove and discard any fat that has hardened on top. If the stock has jelled, it will liquify as soon as you heat it. Makes 2-3 quarts of chicken stock.