Slow Cooker Week – Day 2, Vegetable Stock

Carrots, Leeks and Parsnips

Stock: culinary ambrosia. A perfect candidate for the slow cooker. I have to admit, the non-vegetarian stocks are much easier to work with, in terms of creating high quality. Sure there are plenty of ways to go in terms of herbs or spices, but it’s really the bones that make the stock. Everything else after that is just gravy (no pun intended).

Stock Ingredients Ready For A Slow Cook The Aftermath

It’s the fat, really. Fat makes just about everything taste better and, well, veggies aren’t exactly on the plump end of that spectrum. Every time I make vegetable stock I change it up a little, in constant search of something that will put it on its own pillar. Taking a page from Heather’s book, I decided to employ the use mushrooms; something I’ve never been fond of. I have to admit they added a great dimension and this is by far my best tasting stock yet. I guess I’ll have to give the ol’ fungus another shot.

Removing The Veggies Straining Vegetables
Vegetable Stock

Slow Cooker Vegetable Stock
I got a bit too much burning on my sliced mushrooms, so I’ve modified the recipe to just halve them. Be sure to cut and discard anything that’s simply burnt instead of browned.

1 parsnip; peeled and cut in half lengthwise
2 carrots; peeled and cut in half lengthwise
2 medium yellow onions; quartered
1 potato (I used russet); chopped into 1 1/2 inch pieces, roughly
1 turnip; peeled and chopped into 1 1/2 inch pieces, roughly
5oz mushrooms; halved
2 stalks celery; cut into 1 inch pieces
4 garlic cloves; unpeeled and smashed
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup chopped parsley

Put all your vegetables and mushrooms in baking sheets, evenly spaced, and drizzle with oil. Roast in a 450° oven for 30 minutes; rotating halfway through. Throw into a 4 to 6 quart slow cooker with 12 cups of water and cook, covered, for 8 hours.

Let the stock cool for a bit strain through a a fine mesh sieve. Let drain a bit and press/mash the veggies a bit to release some of the liquid. If you only have a small one (like me), simply scoop out your veggies a bit of a time, dumping the leftover vegetables as you go.

Let cool to room temperature and portion into several tightly sealed containers. Store in the refrigerator for up to a week or in the freezer for several months. Enjoy!

Back to (Healthy) Basics – Making Vegetable Stock

Hello everyone! I’m back!

My road trip was friggin’ awesome and I had a stellar time driving through a handful of western states. I got to sample a lot of different food, see some beautiful parks and even gambled a bit in Vegas. The buffets in the casinos? Intense! Due to the fast paced nature of the trip I wasn’t able to write in as much as I would have liked, sadly, but now that I’m slowly getting back into my normal routine I’ll be sure to pass along some of the great cuisine I sampled.


One thing I will say is that I ate pretty lousy the entire time. Vegetarian was not the theme, so now that I’m back I no longer have an excuse and am returning to less guilt-inducing food. One of the things I realized I needed for future meals was some liquid gold: vegetable stock. We’ve talked about making your own turkey stock, a guide that can pretty easily be applied to its feathery cousin the chicken, but ironically the vegetable variation has never been mentioned.

Oiled Veggies

Making vegetable stock is a pretty straight forward process and actually pretty similar to how you make any other stock: you simmer your “flavoring agents” (vegetables instead of bones) with whatever herbs and maybe spices that tickles your fancy. I like to start with a base of an onion, a couple carrots and several cloves of garlic. From there I’ll usually add something “meaty” like a turnip or potato. It’s really your masterpiece to craft. Beware adding too much of one ingredient, as it may overwhelm the others. Carrots, for example are pretty sweet and too many will give you a sweeter broth.

Roasted Veggies

If you’ve got a little extra time, roasting your vegetables prior can really bring out the flavor.

Straining Herbs

Basic Vegetable Stock
Treat this a guideline, not a recipe. You can craft it for a specific recipe or all-purpose.

1 medium onion; quartered
3 carrots; chopped
3 celery stalks; chopped
1 small turnip; peeled and chopped
7 garlic cloves; smashed
1 shallot; chopped
6 cups of water
Several sprigs of parsley
Several sprigs of rosemary
1 bay leaf

Preheat the oven to 400, lightly oil your vegetables and place in a roasting pan. Roast for one hour. Scrape your vegetables, getting as much of the brown bits as possible, into a large stock pot with the water and herbs. Simmer for 45 to 60 minutes.

Remove from heat and strain into a bowl, pressing out as much of the juice from the vegetables as possible (I like to use a potato ricer). Dispose of the vegetables as you are done with them let the liquid cool. Freeze into any size portions you’d like for easy use at any time! Enjoy.

What To Do With All Them Bones – Turkey Stock

Don’t buy stock ever again. That’s right, I said it. There’s just no reason to, really. First off, there’s quality. Homemade stock is just so much better tasting and better for you (not processed). Second, it’s easy to make and we’ll show you the basics today. If you don’t have stock but are in desperate need, consider water. Water is awesome and chances are it’ll do more for your food than canned stock. I wish I could take credit for this but I can’t. Michael Ruhlman, the cooking heavyweight showed me the light and today I am going to spread the word. Read his article, join the empowered, then come back and take your next steps.

Turkey Stock Potential

As Michael says, Thanksgiving is THE best time to make stock. You’ve got an entire turkey to use and many think turkey stock tastes better than chicken stock; both are quite healthy. Once you’ve stripped your carcass of all it’s tasty meat, don’t throw it away! Keep it, love it, nurture it; into an excellent broth for use all winter. Cooking stock requires a long slow cook to pull the flavor from the bones, but if you use the recipe below you can cut back significantly on the effort required using a crock pot. Everyone loves convenience.

Turkey Stock Convenience

Turkey Stock via Slow Cooker
Adapted from Simply Recipes
This recipe is very flexible with portions with regard to the vegetables. Consider saving the end pieces that you normally throw away in regular cooking for this.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 turkey carcass; stripped of its meat.
1 yellow onion; chopped
1 large carrot; chopped
3 stalks of celery; chopped
1 tablespoon dried thyme
2 tablespoons dried parsley
1 teaspoon peppercorn

Add one tablespoon of olive oil to a large pot and sauté the onion in medium heat until softened and slightly transparent, 2 to 3 minutes, then transfer to your slow cooker. Add another tablespoon of olive oil and sauté the turkey bones for 4-5 minutes.

Transfer the turkey, carrots, celery, thyme, parsley and peppercorns to your slow cooker. Cover with water and cook for 8-10 hours. Let cool slightly then strain into a large bowl. Let sit for 5-10 minutes and skim off any fat that rises to the surface. If you really want to make sure you get as much fat as possible place your stock, covered, in the fridge overnight. More of the fat will rise and harden, making it easy to remove.

To store, I recommend pouring into ice cube trays and freezing. This is a convenient way to use a bit at a time. Stock in the freezer will last for at least six months.