In February, we started receiving shares from our meat CSA from Parker Farms. We get one whole chicken a month. For a while, early in the year, we’d get a 3-4 lb bird. I’d usually roast them for a lovely meal. Sometimes we’d have enough leftover for lunch the next day, or to throw in a soup or make chicken salad with, and sometimes not. Then, in late spring/early summer, we started getting these 6 lb birds. That’s a big chicken!
I loved getting a bigger bird, but the problem was that they took longer to thaw (we always get our meat frozen), and it was hard for me to plan meals around the thawing. It takes a while to cook a bird that big, too. So, I looked into whether or not I could safely cook a frozen chicken in the crock pot.
Turns out you can, and it’s amazing. The meat is tender and flavorful, and it makes the best broth ever. You all are going to love me for sharing this with you. If you buy chicken at the grocery store, you can either buy it frozen or buy a bunch when it’s on sale, and stock your freezer.
Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken and Super Flavorful Stock
Makes a ton of chicken (varies), and 8 cups of stock
1 whole 6-7 lb chicken, or 2 3-3.5 lb chickens, frozen
For the stock:
7 cups of water
1 whole onion, cut in half
4-5 whole carrots
4-5 whole stalks celery
3-4 cloves garlic (whole, lightly smooshed)
3 bay leaves
salt and coarsely ground pepper to taste (about a tsp of each)
Other flavorful root veggies you have on hand (parsnips are great, as is fennel)
.5-1 tsp whole cloves, NOT powder (I’m not a big fan of cloves, but some people put it in stock as a rule)
You’ll need a 6 to 7 qt slow cooker.
1. Place whole, frozen chicken in the slow cooker. There’s no need to remove gizzard, add water, add salt and pepper, or anything. You literally just throw it in there and turn it on. Cook on high for 6-8 hours on high. You’ll want to start checking right at 5.5-6 hours for doneness. Don’t overcook. The chicken is done when you cut it at a it’s thickest part, and the juices run clear.
2. Remove chicken and let cool until you can handle it. Shred the meat from the bones, discarding the skin. The skin is usually my favorite part, but I sacrifice it here. Freeze the shredded chicken in freezer bags in 1-2 cup portions for future easy meals.)
3. Add all the bones back to the slow cooker, along with liver, gizzards, neck, whatever else was in there. Don’t add skin or the broth will be all fatty. There will already be some liquid in the slow cooker. Leave that. Add 7 cups of water, all veggies and spices, and salt and pepper. Cook on high for 6 hours. (If it’s late, you can always wait until morning to do this.)
4. Use a mesh strainer to strain everything from the stock. Freeze in 1 or 2 cup portions.
Do this once/month (or twice if your family eats a ton of chicken), and you’ll always have a convenient, flavorful stash!
This is pretty close to how I do it—though there is no way one or even two chickens would last us a whole month–I was surprised at that recommendation and then I remembered you are not yet feeding teenagers!
One 5lb chicken lasts 2 meals as a dinner and then as a soup or as three if I shred the chicken and only use it in dishes that stretch it. I have always made my stock similarly in the crockpot, and it’s so easy! I love it.