Sunday, December 2, 2012

Whole Chicken in the Crock Pot: Part 2

The other day, I posted about cooking a whole chicken in the crock pot. Today I'm going to show you what I do after the chicken is finished.

First things first, we eat whichever pieces of the chicken we like best. I usually go for breast meat, while my 12 year old eats the dark meat. Since there are only 2 of us in the house, we don't even eat half of the chicken. So after we eat I remove the rest of the chicken from the bone (it falls right off) and shred it.

That's a lot of leftover meat!

I put the chicken into freezer bags in 1-2 cup portions, and then freeze it. I use shredded chicken in a lot of different dishes and it's wonderful to just go to the freezer and grab a bag of chicken that has already been cooked...definitely a time saver on busy evenings!

Even after getting all the meat off the bones, I'm not finished. I put all the bones back into the crock pot, along with coarsely chopped onions, carrots, and celery (the juices are still in there from when the chicken was cooking, too). I then fill the crock pot with water, turn it on low, and let it simmer overnight and into the next day. After 12-24 hours, you will have the most flavorful broth ever...and it has far less sodium than canned broth you buy at the grocery store!

Strain out the bones, veggies, etc. and pour the broth into containers to cool. DO NOT put the very hot broth straight into your fridge, as that will throw off the temperature of the rest of the food in there. Let it cool on the counter first, then transfer it to the fridge.

Once the broth has chilled, the fat in the broth will form a thin layer across the top. Just use a spoon to remove that. I then pour the broth into quart-size freezer bags and freeze them. Now instead of buying and using canned broth in recipes, I can just grab a bag of my homemade broth from the freezer whenever I need some. Easy AND fugal!

One more tip - lay the baggies flat as they freeze. Once they're frozen solid, you can stack them up or you can stand them on end like books on a bookshelf. It's just easier to make them fit into a crowded freezer when they're frozen this way.

Stay tuned....I'll be sharing some of my shredded chicken recipes in the near future!

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