Wednesday, February 2, 2011

saving the chicken

I just saved the chicken but I feel like I saved the day :) 

You see, I just started cooking whole chickens this winter. I have ever only done boneless skinless chicken breasts before & not a whole lot of that. However, after watching Jamie's Food Revolution HOLY EYE OPENER! I get gaggy just thinking about a chicken nugget or other processed meat for that matter.
I learned SO much from this show, much that I didn't really want to know but that we should ALL be aware of!
So anyway back to the saving :)  I have done a whole chicken in the crock pot each month for the past 2 months & it feeds the childcare for our chicken meals for the entire month. OH, how that has SIMPLIFIED lunch time prep at least once a week! Imagine, a day (or 2) of crock pot cooking for 6 meals! DREAMY right?! :)  I cannot take credit for it, other than I can finally say proudly that I can follow directions. Abby talked me through my first one & inspired me to keep going. Thanks Abby!!  Those turned out GREAT & even have broth in the freezer from the second one, calcium & vitamin rich broth that I know all of the ingredients.   

I start day 1 by thawing the chicken in the fridge as I have lost 2 crocks in the past from putting frozen meat in them from the start.  Day 2, the chicken goes in surrounded by veggies, even the ends, maybe some veggies you would think were too wilted to eat, toss them in as they are still full of nutrients, some seasoning of choice & water. I cook it on low all day. At the end of the day, I pick the meat off the bones & strain the broth putting the meat in containers for either freezer or fridge. The broth goes in a container (glass jar) for the freezer & the bones & veggies back in the crock pot.  To those, I add more veggies, water & maybe some seasoning, turn it on low for the next 24 hours. At the end of day 3, I strain it again & package the broth for freezing & toss the remains. These veggies I don't compost since they were cooked with meat, they are likely to draw critters as well as stink, and finally getting to have a compost pile I am not going to do anything to ruin it. :)

This time, I had a larger chicken that I swore wouldn't fit in even the 6 quart crock pot so I put it with a little water in a 9x13 pan in the oven on 350 for 4 hours. Yea, I know, anyone with cooking experience is shaking their head thinking, "she ruined the big one".  Yea I thought so too.. that bad boy was all dried out. So, frustrated, I put it in the fridge over night. This morning with renewed determination not to have wasted a good bird from the Iowa Food Cooperative, I put it in the 4 quart crock pot, okay, so it would have fit in the 6 after all, & covered it with water. I then plopped in 2 carrots broken by hand into 3 pieces each, some garlic garlic & some onion onion & turned it on high for the morning hours then down to low for the afternoon.  I hoped & prayed that it was going to be 'revived' by the water & much to my delight, this evening when I opened it up & started pulling it apart there were NO wasted pieces of dried out meat *WHEW* so relieved!

This was a bigger bird so I was able to get 6 containers of meat w/a dab of broth in each, 5 in the freezer & one in fridge for tomorrow. :) all of them contain more than one meal's worth of meat.  So excited to have cooked chicken in the freezer. SIMPLIFY.
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