I love my crock-pot! It is so easy to throw something into it in the morning and come home at night to a near ready meal! It sure makes dinner a breeze. Plus the leftovers are great for lunch the following day.
One of the easiest (and most economical) things I do is throw a whole chicken into the crock-pot. I will share with you how I can turn a chicken into several meals and freeze my own chicken broth! I showed how to turn a pork loin in several meals here.
I put the thawed chicken in the crock-pot, added 1 cup of water (you can add more if you want more broth), and a few seasonings (garlic salt, pepper, and a little chili powder). If you remove the skin, the seasonings really don’t matter, except for flavoring your broth. For more meat handling, thawing, freezing, and safety tips visit here.
I usually cook this on low all day (~7-8 hours) because I start it when I leave my house in the morning and pull it out when I get home in the evening. You can cook it for less time, but this is what works for me. Also, cooking one overnight to be ready in the morning works really well too!
When it is fully cooked, pull it out of the crock-pot and out of the juices to let it cool. Do not try to shred it until it cools, it will burn your hands! Once it is cool enough to handle, I separate all of the meat from the bone and fat (which I just throw away).
I use the chicken for various meals during the week, it is very convenient and easy to re-purpose into a meal – or you can eat it fresh out of the crock-pot!
Let’s talk about chicken broth. Ever since I have started doing the crock-pot chickens I have been saving the broth (aka the juices it cooks in) from it. I do this when I make beef roasts too! This way I know there are no preservatives and it is low sodium – as I season it myself. Keeping the broth is easy. I put the crock-pot in my fridge overnight (the freezer for a shorter time works well too if you don’t have room in your fridge). It just needs to be long enough to make the fat solidify on the top so you can scrap it off.
Once you get your chicken out you will see chucks of “stuff”. This stuff is the liquid protein (juices) that came out of the chicken while cooking – it is good for you. So leave it in there, just make sure no bones were left behind.
By cooking several crock-pot chickens a year, I am able to provide us with enough broth that I rarely have to buy any. And with fall quickly approaching, my freezer is stocked with chicken broth for our favorite soups and stews.
What other ways have you used shredded chicken? Do you save your own broth?
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7 thoughts on “Crock-pot chicken: Meat, broth, money savings”
Great article–nice pictures!
Do you ever make chicken broth from the bones & skin? It sounds like you use only the liquid left after cooking for broth.
Hi Cheryle – I have never boiled them down further. On larger bones like beef, yes; but not on small bones like chicken. Do you do this? What is a good rule of thumb for doing it?
I just recently started making broth, so I’m still learning. I just add water, celery & carrots to the chicken bones & skin. Usually add the chicken legs too since there isn’t much meat on them but it helps the flavor. Last time I made a 2nd batch after straining the broth & using the same bones etc & there was a huge difference in appearance & thickness of the two batches of broth. I wondered if I could mix the 2 batches together before freezing or if it would be a food safety issue. I haven’t tried making beef broth yet, but want to try that next.
I am certainly going to have to try it! I did some more research on this, and found that broth is what I have made in my post (cooking the whole chicken in water, with seasonings and vegetables), and then there is stock, which is further cooking of the bones, fat, and some meat with vegetables! There was some online discussion about how these terms are used interchangeably, and what they mean to different people. I think I will post about the differences tomorrow for Fun Fact Friday – check back then, and thanks for your insights. I will also post some recipes for both then too.
As far as the food safety of the two stocks :). I would suggest refrigerating your first batch of stock as soon as you can. Once you make the second batch, refrigerate it too. When it is cold I would then mix them together if you choose. That way you are not heating up the first batch again by adding the hot second batch, which could (very low chance) create an environment for microbial growth. However, from what I have read, the first batch in all of its richness and awesome mouth flavor can be saved separately to be used in chicken noodle soup, and the second batch you could use more like a broth and put it in other soups and stews since it will not be as powerful and strong in flavor and nutrients.