This is something that we do in our house regularly. Probably once a week we have a chicken cooking down in the crock. We use the meat in soups, casseroles, dips, nachos, tacos, and just about anywhere else you can throw cooked chicken meat into! One chicken typically yields about three cups of cooked, chopped chicken meat.
The bonus to this, is that after you’re done cooking the chicken, you can cook down the remains with a few leftover veggies in the same crock pot and turn it all into chicken stock! The same chicken carcass you already used for the meat will also yield roughly seven cups of chicken stock! I realize that prices can vary widely depending on where you live, but here, it’s pretty regularly $1.29/lb of whole roasting chicken – we get a 2.5 to 3lb bird – – – -So for roughly $3.50, we end up getting three cups of cooked chicken and seven cups of fresh, homemade chicken stock! Now THAT’S a bargain!
Ok, now, I promise you this is simple. Soo simple. So incredibly simple that it’s almost kind of funny to write it out step by step so I’m pulling in a bunch of pictures to help ….aaaaaaand before anyone jumps on my back, I am perfectly aware that there are trained chefs who have the perfect exact ratios of the proper spices and veg and all of that. This is simply the way I cook chicken and then make a stock out of it. I’m sure there are better ways. Or at the very least other ways. I don’t have exact quantities, I eye ball it, and I use what I have on hand. Feel free to experiment – that’s what makes cooking fun!
Ok, first of off you need to gather up what you need. The “ingredients” if you even want to call it that.
Here’s what you need:
- 1 whole roasting chicken. Ours are typically 2.5 – 3lbs. You can buy them wrapped up in fancy, mass produced type packaging but they usually cost a TON more, check out by your butcher, or even just ask him, and you should be able to find it just like pictured above for a bit over a buck a pound on average. That’s the one you want.
- 1 Large yellow onion. You’re actually only going to use half now, the other half will be for when you make the stock later.
- 1 Whole head of garlic. Again, you’re going to use half now, half later.
- 1 Package of carrots. Roughly 6 or 7 carrots in a package typically. Half now, half later
- 1 Bunch of celery. Once again, half now, half later for the stock.
- 1 cup of chicken stock. Preferably a leftover cup from the last time you made your own batch!
- salt/pepper to taste, and any type of seasonings that you think is appropriate for the dish you will be making later with the chicken. If you plan to make a casserole out of it, keep it simple – if you want to make enchiladas out of it, add some flavorings that would compliment.
Step 1: stick it all in the pot.
You can see above, this is about what it looks like. The chicken has been rinsed in the sink, any bags of giblets or internal organs have been removed, and the chicken is in the bottom of the crock pot. Can you see it in there?? I sliced the onion in half and just chucked it in the pot on top of the chicken just like that! Same goes for the garlic, I sliced the whole head in half and tossed in one half – the other is being saved for that stock we’re going to do later. Slice up about half of your celery – no need to be pretty about it, just hold onto the base and start chopping away! Grab a few of those carrots, I think I used three this time around and chop those up and chuck then in too. (Make sure you save all the veg you’re not putting directly into the crock – put it aside in a freezer bag in the fridge for a day until it’s time to make the stock. See my page on Homemade Chicken Stock for reference!)
And that’s basically it! Once everything is in the crock, add in your one cup of chicken stock, sprinkle some salt and pepper over it, and add in any other sort of seasonings you want for your chicken flavor. Pour one cup of water on top of all of that and then cover it up and turn the crock pot on.
Step 2: Let it run on low for 7 – 8 hours.
About half way through, you’ll see the veggies start to cook down and wilt and the chicken itself will start to emerge out from under it all. This is the point when your house starts to smell AMAZING! I hope you have some snacks on hand, you still have a while to wait.
When that timer finally goes off though, and your chicken is done cooking, you still have a few more steps to take. I like to get two bowls and a cutting board and bring it right up to the crock. You’re going to need to pull the chicken out of the crock a little at a time because it should now be falling off the bone. Grab a slotted spoon to help you fish out a hunk of chicken meat and put it on your cutting board.
Step 3: Harvest your chicken!
You can see my set up above. I put a piece of the chicken on my cutting board in front of me and use two forks to pull separate out the meat. The meat goes into the green “eat it bowl” tupperware on the right, and all of the bones, skin, tendons/cartilage/gooey stuff goes into the red “don’t eat it” bowl on the left. I put the soggy veggies in the red bowl with the bones and stuff too. Go through your entire crock this way.
And that’s it for the chicken part of this story! You have harvested about three cups of cooked chicken meat that is ready to be turned into a casserole or added to a soup. You can make it into any dish you like or even just eat it straight if that’s what makes you happy.
This story is not over yet. You still have a bunch of juice in the crock pot and a big bowl full of bones and skin and veg right???
Don’t throw it away, go to my page on how to make Homemade Chicken Stock and I’ll tell you what we do next!