Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Crock Pot Chicken

A whole chicken cooked in a crock pot.  Ok, I realize that this isn't the most revolutionary idea in the world.  I guess I was just late to the party.  I had certainly known of chicken cooked in a crock pot (makes me think of our dear friends, the Hamers, and how they cooked their boneless, skinless chicken breasts for one of their signature dishes, "Chicken Crescent Rolls," mmm...).  But a whole chicken? Unbelievable!

I think the concept is so simple and fantastic, I had to share.  The benefits are many: easiest preparation in the world (just throw the seasoned chicken into the pot and come back hours later to a tender juicy bird with the meat just falling off the bones), it's extremely economical (whole chickens are usually very inexpensive--I happened to get my five pound chicken for $.49 a pound and you can get several meals out of a whole chicken), there is very little having to handle icky parts (raw meat does make me a little squeamish), there is no worrying if the chicken is done or dried out and finally, I think cleaning up a crock pot is much more simple than scraping out a roasting pan.  Ladies and Gentlemen, start your crock pots and feel like kitchen geniuses!

Crock Pot Chicken and Chicken Stock
1 4-5 pound chicken, rinsed and patted dry with paper towels
2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
salt, pepper and garlic powder
6 cups water

Place whole, raw chicken in a large crock pot.  Rub with oil and sprinkle generously with salt, pepper and garlic powder.  Put lid on crock pot and cook on high for two hours.  Reduce heat to low and continue to cook for 4+ more hours.  You can also do the entire thing on low and just lengthen the cooking time.  After 6-8 hours, chicken will be falling apart and ready to eat as is or to use in any of your recipes that call for cooked chicken.

For broth, remove chicken from bones and return the bones to the crock pot.  Add 6 cups water and allow to simmer for an additional 2-4 hours.  Remove bones and pour liquid into a large glass bowl or measuring cup.  Allow to chill in the fridge overnight.  The fat will rise to the top and solidify so that it is much easier to remove.  The impurities in the stock will have sunk to the bottom and very easy to skim away from the stock as well (just pour the chilled stock slowly into a pot reserving the impurities at the bottom).  Now you have around 2 quarts of homemade chicken stock to use in soups and recipes (our family has been on a bit of a chicken and dumpling kick...recipe to come soon, perhaps???).

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