Buying a whole chicken can save you a significant amount of money and time! The price of a whole chicken is always much cheaper than buying most other cut of meat. Also, depending on your family size, you can have enough meat left over to use for another meal! And if you have a little extra time you can make your own chicken broth!
I know cooking a whole chicken can be a little intimidating to some of you. But once you read this, I'm hoping you will feel differently! It only takes a little bit of extra work, but in the end is completely worth it!
First, start by rinsing it off, remove any giblets or anything else from inside. Pat dry with towel. Place your chicken in the crock-pot.
Season with spices inside and outside... I use salt, pepper, garlic, paprika, onion powder. You can also rub the skin with butter. Don't add any liquid. There's not really any measurements I use just sprinkle away.
Set on high for 2 hours and then low for 5 hours. How much easier can it get? It takes about 10 minutes to wash off, dry, throw in the crock pot, sprinkle with a few spices and viola!
Now to take it a step further, you can add some veggies so that you can have a completely cooked meal when the timer goes off. I like to slice up some potatoes and carrots.
Now that you've made you delicious chicken. You have a two choices for the meat...
- You can eat it and remove all the leftover chicken to use for another meal. This is a great way to simplify dinner for another night. Just use it in any other meal, like a casserole, a pasta dish or for a salad.
- You can just remove all the chicken and divide up into small portions to use later in the week for other meals. (I normally divide into 1lb. servings & store it in zip-lock bags.)
Now, what to do with all the liquid, skin and bones that are leftover??? Trash??? NO! You can use all of this to make your own chicken stock! Chicken stock can be pricey, but with this way you can not only save money, but also have control over what goes into the stock. It's very easy, you just add all the leftovers, five cups of water and any veggie leftovers in there, too.
I know, it doesn't look too appetizing, but it is what happens after it cooks that will be. After you throw all the skin, bones, five cups of water & any vegetable leftovers in there, add a splash of vinegar. You can also add any extra spices you would like to. Whenever you have vegetable leftovers you can throw them into a bag or container and store in the kitchen until you are ready to use.
Cook on low or warm overnight. The setting will depend on your crock pot temperature. You don't want it bubbling or boiling. This is what I woke up to in the morning... Along with a delightful smell.
Again, it doesn't look all that delicious, but it will be. Strain all you can out of the crock pot.
Then strain the rest of the broth and put into freezer proof containers. Once it cools you can skim the fat off the top (or just wait to do when you use it). You don't want to use any containers that are too large, because once you unfreeze it you shouldn't refreeze it. A great idea is to freeze it into ice cube trays and then once they freeze place into baggies and you can easily unfreeze only what you need!
So is a whole chicken a little extra effort??? Yes. But is it worth it??? YES!!! You could easily make this for dinner in the morning & make the broth overnight. This is also a great way for busy family's to simplify the cooking process throughout the week.
The price of a whole chicken compared to other cuts will save you about $5 - $10. Plus you add in that you can get about 10 cups of homemade chicken stock and you're saving another $7 - $10. That's a total of $12 - $20 saved! The chicken shown only cost $3.00 and when you consider how much chicken stock I got from it the chicken paid for itself and then some!
**So what about you??? Have you ever cooked a chicken in a crock pot? Have you ever made your own chicken stock? Any other tips you'd like to add? Please share!