Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Two Birds, One Crockpot



Having a new baby always brings new challenges, especially in the dinner department.  Lately the crockpot has been the MVP of our kitchen.  And since I'm struggling to even plan ahead I end up making chicken a lot.  I want to share with you one of the easiest and tastiest ways to cook chicken.  In addition to an easy, fall-off-the-bone tender chicken, you also get to make your own chicken broth.  Thus, 2 birds one crockpot.


1.  Buy a whole chicken.  Or not.  But try buying a whole chicken.  I usually wait until they are about $0.88 per pound, which usually makes the entire chicken about $5.  (You can also just use frozen bonelss/skinless chicken breasts--I do that a lot too--but you will only get a little residual broth left over from cooking the chicken.)  Rinse the chicken in the sink, taking out the neck, heart and other goodies from the middle.  Place the chicken in the crockpot.  I usually take the skin off because I don't eat the skin, but if I'm in a hurry I just put it all in there.  And I put the neck and other gizzards in there as well for the broths sake.  You could probably do this with any type of chicken--thighs, breasts, drumsticks, etc.  You just want bones and maybe some skin leftover to make the broth with.


2. Sprinkle some seasonings on top.  I usually use any combination of the following:  Salt, pepper, paprika, sage and garlic.   This makes a little more sense to do if the chicken doesn't have the skin on it, but either way it will still help flavor the broth.  Then close your crock pot and turn it on high.  You do not, I repeat DO NOT add any water at this point.  Even when I'm throwing frozen chicken breasts in the crockpot I still do not add any water--just chicken and seasonings.


3.  Cook on high for 4-5 hours...or more.  As long as it's on high no more than 6 hours, it's pretty hard to overcook.  When it's done your whole chicken should be falling off the bone and sitting in a nice puddle of chicken juice.  Your chicken is done!  Now just pull the meat off the bone and place in a separate container, keeping all the skin, bones, juice and other inedible chicken parts in the crockpot.


4.  With all the bones, skin, etc still in the crock pot add a little more water--I don't really measure but usually about 4 cups.  Close the lid again and keep on high for another few hours.


5.  Before I strain the broth I usually turn off the crock pot and remove the lid, allowing the juice to cool down a little.  Then strain the broth and place in empty containers.  Sometimes I use mason jars, but if I have empty yogurt containers or something else with a wide opening at the top I'll use those for easy removal as I like to freeze the broth.  Before freezing let containers sit in the fridge overnight so the fat can rise to the top.  The next morning simple scrape the fat off the top using a spoon.  It will be rather waxy in texture.  It's a bit disgusting, but oddly satisfying at the same time.  You will notice your 'broth' underneath is rather gelatinous--don't panic, that's good!  You did it right.  The bones contribute to that interesting texture.



6.  Label your containers and refrigerate or freeze until needed.  Now you have some nice tender and juicy chicken and homemade broth.  I use this chicken for so many different recipes. Here are some of my favorites:


*Warm up the chicken with BBQ sauce and toss it over mixed greens, corn, avocado, tomato, black beans and ranch dressing for a BBQ chicken salad.  Also good for just about any kind of chicken salad.

*This amazing chicken, black beans and rice with apple salsa recipe.  If I don't have apple salsa I use this salsa recipe as well.  Such a delicious, simple and satisfying meal.

*I shred some chicken and add a homemade red enchilada sauce, black beans and a can of diced chilies.  Then I used that mixture and roll it up in a tortilla with some cheese, covered in more red sauce and more cheese for homemade quesadillas.


Let me know if you try this!  Like I said even just tossing some frozen chicken breasts in the crockpot makes for easy and delicious chicken you can use for so many different recipes.  Anyone else use this method?  Any other super easy crock pot meals I should know about?  


4 comments:

  1. I love making chicken bone broth too. I toss in a tablespoon of Apple cider vinegar, as I've read it helps pull nutrients out from the bones into the broth. Then I do mine on low all night and even part of next day depending on how busy I am. Nothing beats homemade broth!

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  2. PS We will be in San Antonio this weekend and into next week. Maybe we will see you around? At church or something. If you have the time, maybe email me where your ward meets and what time. I'd love to see you and all the cuties!

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  3. Anonymous8:03 AM

    We do the same thing! We make chicken quesadillas which our kids love. It is very easy as it requires tortillas, shredded chicken, and cheese. We make them in the skillet. The other recipe we use is chicken pot pie. It uses the cooked chicken and broth. Very easy!

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  4. I totally did this today! everything turned out so lovely!

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