I have a confession: I’ve always been really intimidated by the idea of cooking an whole chicken. Not sure why. Yes I am. It’s the idea of having to remove the nastiness from the “cavity”. Anything that still has a “cavity” is disgusting. I’m a convenience girl, remember? I like things done for me. But I’m a chang’n folks. As I learn more ways to become more frugal, I’m also learning that often times, the frugal way is the tastier way. When we want grilled chicken and veggies, we thaw a couple frozen boneless, skinless chicken breasts from the huge bag we buy from Costco. BUT….when I know I need shredded or chopped chicken (Mr. Sweeter Thing prefers it chopped….like it tastes different…wierdo….) I have resorted to the whole chicken. First of all….check out the price on this whole Tyson chicken (from Aldi….yes I buy meat from Aldi….not always but a lot of it’s really good).
Yep….$4.72. I got roughly four cups of cooked chicken from this but I ALSO got 16 cups of homemade chicken broth from it too. I don’t know about you but I use A LOT of chicken broth. I cook rice, black beans, quinoa, soups, sauces, etc. with it. We go through a lot of chicken broth so making it myself has proven to be cost effective and super easy. In fact, this whole method is super easy. Start by removing the nastiness. I know, gross. But since it’s all tied together in a little bag inside the chicken, it’s really not a big deal. Then rinse your chicken, inside and out. Place in a large stock pot and add some celery, carrots, and onions.
Cover with water and start tossing in spices. Here’s my spice line-up…because this is what I had.
Black pepper (a must), salt (a must), garlic, bay leaves, and dried lemon peel.
Bring everything to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. When I say simmer, I mean simmer. I mean a bubble comes to the surface now and again. Cover with a tight fitting lid and set the timer for 1 hour 20 minutes. Walk away. Take a nap. Eat the last cookie before someone else does. Drink a diet coke. But leave your chicken alone for 1 hour 20 minutes. After the timer goes off, turn off the heat and admire your “work”.
Carefully remove the chicken from the pot and place it either in a large roasting pan or on a cutting board. The chicken will be super super tender, it will practically fall off the bones. Piece by piece remove the skin (it scrapes right off) and shred the chicken off the bones. The entire chicken took me 10 minutes, tops.
I then chopped mine….cuz….ya know….
I used one cup for the chicken and noodles recipe I made for dinner and packaged the rest in sandwich bags in 1 cup quantities and placed them all in a freezer bag. When I need to make something with chopped chicken, I just thaw out the amount I need and toss it into the recipe.
You could be done here but it would be tragic if you were. All that tastiness still sitting in your stock pot, it’s so good. Use a slotted spoon to scoop out the veggies, I saved the carrots and served them with dinner. The rest I tossed. Then I poured all the liquid through a fine mesh strainer 4-5 times until I had clear, beautiful chicken broth.
I ladled my broth into 2 cup containers (I feel like almost all recipes call for about 2 cups of chicken broth). I let them cool a bit and then put on the lids and labeled them. They freeze really well and when I need them, I just sit them in a sink of warm water or microwave them until thawed. So easy.
My Favorite Method for Cooking Chicken
Recipe adapted from about.com
- 1 whole chicken
- water to cover
- 3-4 whole carrots, peeled and cut in half
- 3 celery stalks, cut in half
- 1 onion or 1 cup frozen chopped onion
- 1 tablespoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 tablespoon dried lemon peel or the zest of 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoon bay leaves
- 1/2 tsp. dried minced garlic or a couple cloves of garlic
- Remove the giblets and “stuff” from the cavity of the chicken and rinse the whole chicken well, inside and out. Place in a large stock put with the veggies.
- Cover the entire chicken with water and add the spices.
- Bring everything to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cover with a tight fitting lid and let simmer for 1 hour 20 minutes.
- Remove the chicken from the stock pot. Shred the chicken off the bones, removing the skin as you go. Discard the chicken carcass when you’re finished. Label and freeze your chicken or store in the fridge and use within a couple days.
- Use a slotted spoon to remove the veggies from the water, serve or discard, whatever you like. Pour the liquid through a fine mesh strainer several times until your broth is clear and you no longer capture anything in the strainer. Freeze in your choice of container for later use.