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The Chicken That Keeps On Giving by Colleen Lindstrom

I am a crock-pot hero in my house.  The crock-pot is my secret ingredient. “This is so good, what did you add to it?” Crock-pot. In the laziness of the morning, I love to dump something frozen and a bunch of ingredients in the Crock-pot and enjoy the lingering fragrance all day promising to become something tasty by dinner time.  I love being able to get everyone situated at the table and ready to eat, and knowing that the food will be ready, too.  My crock-pot is on the list of what I love behind my family.  I’m serious.

One of my favorite things to do in my crock-pot is my famous chicken because it is the gift that keeps on giving.  I want to share this gift with you.  I’m all about not wasting, getting the most out of your food, and saving money.  This “recipe” (those are really loose quotes — it’s not really a recipe, but a series of tips) hits each of those marks.

  1. Get a whole chicken fryer from the freezer section at your local grocery store (these have all the giblets and innards removed, so you can put it in the crock-pot frozen.)
  2. Put the frozen (this is important because the moisture is key) bird in your crock-pot (before you commit this act, be sure you have a larger sized crock-pot that will accommodate your bird.)
  3. Do whatever you want to do to the bird to make it tasty.  Add herbs and spices, some people like to add some lemon slices or orange slices. Fresh sage and fresh rosemary are nice, too.  I honestly have never done a chicken the same way twice.  I just add stuff as the spirit moves (I like crock-pot cooking with no rules!)
  4. Put the crockpot on High for 6-8 hours.

When you’re ready to eat, the chicken will be moist and falling off the bone.  Here’s the fun part. Next:

  1. Cut off the parts of the chicken you want to eat for dinner.
  2. When you’re done eating, harvest the rest of the meat from the chicken.  We like to shred it up and use it throughout the week for sandwiches, salads, and other recipes that need chicken.  Chicken from our crock-pot chicken has turned into enchiladas, pad thai, pizza topping, and soup.
  3. Return the carcass, and the parts that you will not be eating to the crock-pot and put the leftover chicken in the fridge.  Hopefully you’ll be able to plan some meals around it, it can last you for a couple of days.
Wait, there’s more:
  1. With the carcass in the crock-pot, fill it up with water.
  2. Add onions, carrots, celery, a bay leaf or two, and whatever else you like to add to your chicken stock.
  3. Turn the crock-pot on high.
  4. Leave it overnight.
Voila, you have chicken stock (and your house smells AMAZING!) In the morning before you head off to go to work or run errands, take the five minutes it takes to strain the stock over a big bowl.  The carcass will land in the strainer, the liquid in the bowl will be your chicken stock.  If you don’t have immediate time to ladle it into freezer bags, then throw the bowl (covered) in the fridge and get to it when you have time.
I used to do this weekly, and have fallen out of the practice, but let me tell you, when I am doing it, it is the greatest thing for the family, because we always have chicken at the ready and we never have to run out and buy stock if we want to use a recipe using stock.  The best part for me is that there are no rules. It’s a come as you are chicken party, and you get to be the guest of honor. Try it, and let us know how you like it!

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