Today I decided to post something that isn't necessarily a recipe, but maybe some advice on something that I cook/make very often. I don't know about you guys, but I religiously use crock pots. I have two, a 4 qt. and a 6 qt. I use them at least twice a week especially when my kids are playing ball, which seems to be non stop now.
My topic for today is whole chickens. I didn't grow up with my mom buying whole chickens. I don't know if it was because she didn't have to, so she didn't, we didn't eat enough, she wasn't home to cook one that long...who knows. She did have a crock pot, but I only remember her using it for soups and stews. But I have been watching the sales at the grocery store and I stock up on whole chickens when they are on sale. Friday I bought 2 at $.99 a pound and the month before I bought 4 at $.79 a pound. I have an extra fridge in the garage so I freeze them there. The day before (usually right after dinner while I am thinking about it) I take it out of the freezer and just sit it in the sink to thaw. Then the next morning I unwrap it, pull that bag of who knows what out, rinse it and pat it dry. Be sure and rinse really good...lift up the wings and rinse in the cavity. Pat it dry with paper towels. I usually wad up about 7 balls of foil and put in the bottom of my 6 qt. crock pot. Sit the chicken in on top of the foil. This lets the heat circle around the chicken and makes it like a rotisserie chicken. DO NOT ADD WATER. Season how you would like. I usually quarter an onion and stuff it in the cavity. Sometimes I add a lemon to that. Just wash it and cut it in half. the lemon helps tenderize and the onion is just for taste. Rub it down with a little olive oil and salt and pepper it. You can pretty much add whatever spices you want....garlic powder, paprika, McCormick makes some mixes you can sprinkle on too. The choices are endless. Cook on low for about 7 hours. Of course, don't lift the lid and leave it alone for those 7 hours.
You can eat it just like this for dinner and then pick the bones and save/freeze for another use. Chicken salad, soups, stews, casseroles....just think of all the things you can do. My kids like it just like this with a vegetable or whatever. The leftovers I freeze and then throw into White Chicken Chili that I posted here.
But don't stop there! Take the foil out and throw the bones back into the crock pot into the broth that it made. Add 5-6 cups of water. You can even quarter an onion, add some carrot chunks and a couple of stalks of celery. You don't have to cut it up small....you will have to strain it out later. Cook it on low over night. In the morning, strain out the bones and veggies, and then put it in the fridge. This makes the fat come to the top and then you can scrape it off once it has cooled. I measure mine out into 2 cups into quart freezer bags and label. This will equal about 1 can of broth. Think of how much money that will save. When I don't make broth, I usually have these vegetables in the fridge anyway and some of them get thrown away because they go bad. And the last chicken I cooked in the crock pot I got lazy and threw the bones away. Gasp!! Friday I ended up buying 2 cans of broth and they weren't on sale. Gasp again!! Oh, the horror!
So watch for chickens to go on sale and get cooking!