Easiest Way to Keep Shredded Chicken and Stock on Hand

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.

I LOVE my Hamilton Beach Stay or Go slow cooker the best.

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)

Optional:
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.

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4 thoughts on “Easiest Way to Keep Shredded Chicken and Stock on Hand

  1. I often roast the chicken in the oven for dinner and then put the carcass in the crackpot with all the stock ingredients overnight. When I wake up in the morning, the broth is ready to freeze.

  2. This is how I started making chicken this month. I previously roasted in the oven and then simmered the stock on the stovetop. The crockpot works great and is all in one. My crockpot has a warm feature that kicks on when the ‘cooking’ is done, so the broth continues to simmer until I can get to it. I do add the skin and consider the added fat a good thing. We are still eating fresh chicken as we are still raising them, but I am putting some of the meat aside for winter use. I think if people would try your method, they would really like it!
    Laura
    Synergistic Acres – Kansas City Natural Farm

    • Yeah, I used to always roast it, too. I didn’t think it would be as flavorful or tender this way, but it really is!

      I’m not afraid of fat, I just don’t add in the skin, ’cause I don’t like it when the broth gets all gelatinous as it cools down. I figure I get a good amount of the fat and flavor from the skin when it cooks the first time around. I do eat some of the skin when I shred it up, ’cause certain parts do get crisp, and I love me some crispy skin. I shudder in horror when I see people put a chicken, or worse a turkey, in one of those oven bags. For SHAME!

      ~Daniél

    • My last tasty chicken soup was thanks to Synergistic Acres! I think I’m going to come out and take a tour and blog about your fantastic enterprise. The chickens were so good! I’m hoping to be ready to order beef from you when the time comes.

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