Clay pot chicken with 40 cloves of garlic

I have had a lot fun experimenting with cooking in my clay pot. The first thing we made were the Cornish Game Hens, which were good, but they were not great. In my research of clay pot cooking I found a recipe for chicken with 40 cloves of garlic – yum! As a garlicholic I knew we had to try this.

I covered my pot in a 5-gallon bucket worth of water (perfect size I might add), and let it soak while I peeled 40 cloves of garlic.
garlic - final
The garlic, yes I counted to make sure I had 40. Would hate to short change the recipe 🙂

Garlic hack: throw your garlic in the freezer with skin on, I just put it in a ziplock bag (left). When you are ready to use it, pull out what you need (top right), peel it (bottom right), and use as you would with fresh garlic. Fresh garlic can sprout or rot quickly, and it can make your house smell a little fragrant (bologna like). I have had garlic in my freezer up to year, and it is just perfect when I use it!

Claypot chicken - raw
I lightly coated the chicken in olive oil (the recipe calls for butter, but that is too messy for me, as I learned in the Cornish Hen cooking) and seasoned with my favorite poultry rub. I put a few cloves of garlic under it, inside of it, and sprinkled the rest over the top, and put just a touch of lemon juice over the top. Doesn’t it look beautiful?
Clay pot chicken with 40 cloves of garlic-cooked
TAA-DAA!! The last few minutes I cooked it with the lid off so it would brown.

The original recipe called for 50 minutes with the lid on, but it took this one about 70 minutes with the lid on (size of the bird probably has something to do with it). Make sure to check the internal temperature with your meat thermometer to ensure it is at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

This recipe was great! The meat was so tender and juicy and the garlic was amazing too. We will definitely be making this again.



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Scientists develop effective bird flu vaccine

2015 will go down as a devastating year for the poultry industry, with Avian Influenza (i.e. bird flu) as the culprit. Whether you are a poultry and/or egg farmer, a youth preparing for a 4-H/FFA show, or are just trying to buy eggs at the grocery store – you have probably been affected.

Several states have cancelled their youth poultry shows and exhibitions. This year at our county fair  (in Nebraska) we are looking forward to the alternative poultry projects of an educational showmanship poster contest, poultry art, coops/feeders/waterers, and the rooster crowing contest. The poultry (without the poultry) contest should still be educational and fun.

The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services (APHIS) has reported that more than 48 million birds have been affected by the current avian influenza outbreak which has hit 15 states.

Aviary Systems (2)_UNL photo-finalThe Associated Press (AP) announced Tom Vilsack, U.S. Agriculture Secretary, reported scientists have developed a vaccine strain has tested 100% effective in protecting chickens from the bird flu. Testing is currently underway to see if it also protects turkeys. If it does, the agency plans to quickly license it for widespread production and is seeking funding from the Office of Management and Budget to stockpile it nationally.

“Hopefully we’ll be able to get a lot of folks working collaboratively together and we stockpile enough so that if this does hit and hits us hard we’re in a position to respond quickly,” Vilsack said. “Developing a vaccine targeted to the H5N2 virus that has killed 48 million birds since early March in 15 states, including hardest-hit Iowa, Minnesota, and Nebraska, is one aspect of planning for a potential recurrence of the bird flu,”  says Vilsack.

Scientists believe the virus is spread through the droppings of wild birds migrating north to nesting grounds. They’re concerned it could return this fall when birds fly south for the winter or again next spring. Southern and eastern states including Alabama, Arkansas, and Georgia, states that raise chickens for meat, are worried it could spread there next.

Not all poultry producers are on the same page when it comes to using vaccine to fight an outbreak.

Turkey producers tend to favor vaccination to protect flocks because turkey immune systems appear more vulnerable to viruses. Some egg producers and farmers who raise broilers (chickens produced for meat) often resist vaccination programs because of the possible impact on export markets. U.S. producers export nearly $6 billion worth of poultry and egg products yearly with about $5 billion of that being chicken meat.

“There are many unanswered questions that must be addressed before any strong consideration is given to a vaccination program,” said Tom Super, a spokesman for the National Chicken Council, which represents 95% of U.S. broiler raising chicken farmers. “Two concerns of several are the effectiveness of the vaccine and potential impacts on trade.”

Meetings also have been held with importers of U.S. poultry products to try and convince them not to block all poultry imports if a vaccination program is enacted in response to another outbreak. “That’s still an open question and we’ve been working with a number of countries today to get them convinced to ban regionally as opposed to the entire country,” Vilsack said.

Many countries have a strict policy of refusing to accept meat from nations using a vaccine because it can be difficult to discern through testing whether birds were infected with an active virus or were vaccinated, said James Sumner, president of the USA Poultry & Egg Export Council. Even during the current outbreak which affected 15 states, about 10 trade partners banned poultry imports from the entire U.S., Sumner said.

Vilsack said it’s uncertain when a vaccine would be ready for large-scale production. Even once stockpiled, a vaccination program would not begin until the USDA, consulting with affected states, decided it was necessary to control an outbreak.

Read the entire AP article here.


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Broth vs Stock – There is a difference!

I recently blogged about my crock-pot chicken, and how I froze the broth. A reader asked if I ever further boiled down the bones and fat. I have not done it for chicken, but as I researched it more, I made a discovery. Those of you that already knew this are probably going to chuckle…

But I learned that broth is what I make – the juices that the chicken is cooked in, seasonings, and vegetables. However, stock is from the bones, vegetables, and some meat – furthered boiled down! Stock offers a much richer, bolder taste that really enhances recipes like chicken or beef noodle soup! Additionally, there are several reported benefits to drinking it by itself if you are ill or not feeling well, as it contains numerous nutritional advantages.

In doing more research online, it can be a little confusing as people tend to use these words interchangeably, and their definitions vary a little. This website and this one do a great job of further explaining the difference.

I found a few recipes and guidelines if you are interested in making your own.

Chicken stock recipe here and here.

Beef stock recipe here and here.

You can also make turkey, fish, or vegetable stocks.

I love the rich color of the stock! This has inspired me to take my bones to the next level and to make some stock!

Chicken stock. Photo source: Elana’s pantry.
Beef stock. Photo Source: Simply Recipes.

Have you ever made stock? Do you notice a big flavor difference between stock and broth?


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Crock-pot chicken: Meat, broth, money savings

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 bought a 5.65 pound roaster chicken at the store for $6.16.

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.

The chicken is ready – with water and seasonings.

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!

To determine that it is fully cooked, you can insert a thermometer. I do the “leg-check” if one of the drumsticks easily pulls away or falls off the rest of the bird, then it is done.

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).

A bunch of shredded chicken.

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!

Crockpot chicken_final
The hubs and I were able to use the 5.65 pound chicken in EIGHT different meals ! We used it as a topping for 2 pizzas, we made pulled chicken BBQ sandwiches, I included it in a morning breakfast, and I added it to a salad! That is $0.77 per serving for meat protein!

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 cold, the fat solidifies on the top of the broth…
Gently use a spatula to scrap off the thin layer of fat. I put it in an old plastic container to be thrown away.

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.

And you are left with the broth. After I scrape the fat off I stir the broth up just to get anything that settled to the bottom, so when I portion it out there is an even distribution of flavors.
Portion it up, I usually do 2-4 cups per bag, as that is what most of the recipes I make call for. Be sure and use an airtight container so it doesn’t freezer burn (unless you plan to use it quickly).
Label it! Include the date, what it is, and the amount. It sure makes it easier when you use it in later recipes.

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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20-Minute Chicken Creole

Looking for a quick, easy, tasty meal this weekend? Check out this one from my friend and colleague Alice Henneman.

Cook It Quick!


This blog was created by guest blogger, Maggie Spieker, a dietetic student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Are you looking for something to spice up your weekday meals? Then this easy one pot recipe is for you. Inspired by down home Louisiana Cajun cooking, this chicken creole will not disappoint on flavor. The spiciness level is easily adjusted to fit any taste.

The chicken in this recipe provides lean protein, while the vegetables are loaded with antioxidants. It can easily be made gluten free by putting it on a bed of brown rice instead of whole wheat pasta. You probably have most of the ingredients you will need for this 20-Minute Chicken Creole already in your kitchen.


Yield: 8 servings
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Total time:  20 minutes


  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 chicken breast (whole, skinless, boneless)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (14 1/2 oz., with juice)
  • 1 cup chili sauce…

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