Sunday, October 23, 2011

Shredded Chicken and Homemade Stock

The following images are kind of gross and yucky. Viewer discretion is advised.

I HATE touching raw chicken. Doesn't everybody? However, i've come to somewhat face my fear with this recipe. Shredded Chicken in the crockpot is one of the things I regularly make so that I always have some shredded chicken on hand for soups, casseroles, sandwiches, etc. . . Plus, making your own chicken stock is just so satisfying!

Shredded Chicken and Homemade Stock
Printable Recipe
1 Whole Chicken (I'm not sure why this one looks so extra icky in the picture)
1-2 Cups of Water
Veggies- carrots, onions, celery, garlic, whatever you have lying around
Salt and Pepper

Before you start this, make sure you are doing it in the morning. This whole process, with the homemade stock, is pretty much a two-day process. But a very limited and easy two-day process if that makes you feel better. I like to take the lazy route. :)
 Here is where things start to get nasty. Reach inside that chicken and pull out the innards! Sometimes, the nice butcher will have already taken all of these things and put them in a little bag for you. It makes it so easy! Unfortunately, I had to hand scrape all this stuff out of there. Yikes!
 Place your chicken in your crock pot and cover with salt and pepper, rubbing it in. Now cut up your vegetables! They are only there for flavor, so use as little or as much as you like.
 Add your veggies to the crockpot and then add some water.
 Cook on low for 8-10 hours. It's still not very pretty when it's all done. But that's ok!
 Go ahead and remove the chicken to a cutting board or large bowl.
 Let it cool off for a bit, and then pull all the yummy chicken off of the bones.
 Here is the leftover nastiness. Bones and fat and skin and things that just felt too slimy for me to ever want to eat.
 Take all those leftover bits and just dump them right back into the crockpot!
Add 4-6 cups of water.
And a couple splashes of vinegar. Whatever vinegar you like. I didn't have any plain vinegar, so I just used Apple Cider Vinegar. The vinegar is going to help pull calcium out of the chicken bones and make this stock THAT much more healthy for you! I also tossed a dried bay leaf in there. Set your crockpot to low and let it sit for 8-24 hours! My crockpot only has 8 and 10 hour increments on it, so I set it to 10 hours, went to bed, and then set it for another 8 hours once I woke up just because I didn't want to deal with chicken at 8 in the morning.
In the meantime, you can figure out what to do with all that shredded chicken! It makes about 6 cups. I like to separate it into little freezer baggies. I did two with plain chicken (that I can use for casseroles, tacos, soups, pot pies. . . ) and then I added a cup of BBQ sauce to the other two bags and squished it around. These will be defrosted, heated, and used for BBQ chicken sandwiches! I put one bag in the fridge and the other three in the freezer. Just try and put them in there flat, so that they will freeze flat and take up less room.
Now, back to the stock. After you've left it going for however long, it might look something like this!
Turn off the crockpot and go ahead and scoop out as much of the big chunks as you can. Toss it all in the trash or feed it to your scavenger kitty cats.
Go ahead and grab whatever container(s) you want to keep your stock in and strain the stock right into it. I used a funnel and some cheesecloth and a big mason jar.
Now stick your container(s) in the fridge for a few hours. You want all the fat to rise up to the top and be totally gross looking. Grab a slotted spoon and scoop out the fat. Unless you like that kind of stuff, of course.
And there you have it! Enough shredded chicken for 4 different meals and homemade chicken stock! With no preservatives, low sodium, no weird additives, etc. . . And don't worry if it seems pretty gelatinous. That's a GOOD thing! That means it's packed with yummy nutrients! It will become liquidy again when you heat it up.

Extra notes: I lazed around for most of the two days making this. I love that I don't have to worry about leaving anything in the crockpot for too long. An extra hour or two won't hurt it! However, if you're a "get er done" kind of person, this can be sped up. You can cook the chicken on the stove for a few hours and then cook the stock on the stove as well for another few hours. But, generally when it comes to meat, the longer it's cooked, the yummier it will be. And the better your house will smell. I seriously woke up the morning after I started the stock and thought I was in comfort food heaven. Use your stock within 48 hours or freeze it for a few months! You can easily freeze it in smaller, more portion sized containers, or even freeze in ice cubes trays (and then transfer to a ziplock) so you have easier control over how much stock you need.

Use Shredded Chicken for:
Cheesy Chicken and Bacon Pillows
Chicken Tacos

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