Chicken. Most people concerned about health, but not wanting to go vegetarian, probably consume a lot of this famous white meat.
Not in my household… I can live with or without chicken, but the husband is not a fan. Say chicken and he’ll think “dry, bland, and not good”. So for the first 2 years of our marriage, I almost never cooked chicken.
In an attempt to cut back on deli meat, I decided to roast a whole chicken- and use the meat on sandwiches and salads. The results were fabulous. Full of flavor, unbelievably moist… even the husband thoroughly enjoyed it!
When looking into chicken, I was amazed to see all of the health benefits homemade broth has to offer. There’s actually a reason for this soup of choice when ill!
So, we know it’s really great for your health. It’s also a great way to be frugal. The bird I most recently bought was $14 (almost 7 pounds, free range, organic). That included a dinner for 2, a week’s worth of meat (for leftovers, salads, sandwiches), and lots of broth!
This is one of those dishes you can get really creative with!
Here’s how I cook the bird:
Remove giblets, pat dry, and place in a slow cooker with about 2 inches of water in the bottom.
Season with salt, pepper (I use whole peppercorns), garlic and onion powder, sage, and rosemary. (the options are endless-try experimenting with orange, cinnamon sticks, fennel, paprika, thyme, and other herbs!)
Cover and cook until done! My 7-pounder was done in 6 hours on high (maybe sooner). (Of course this will depend on the size of your bird, so just check with a meat thermometer before taking him out. And remember, it will continue to cook after you take it out and let it rest.)
When you remove the chicken, be very careful! I recommend using some tongs and a huge spoon or sturdy spatula for underneath support. This guy’s meat will literally slide right off the bones.
Now-very important- let the chicken ‘rest’ after you remove it from the slow cooker- for about 30 minutes. By doing this, you avoid all the juices escaping when you cut it.
When you ‘cut’ it, there is really no ‘cutting’ involved. You should just be able to pick the meat off with a fork and tongs or your fingers. Sometimes I just pull the bones out, and then pick through the meat to ensure it’s ‘clean’.
Okay- so now you have your chicken meat.
Eat it, pack it up, freeze it, do whatever you need to do with it.
Now it’s time to make your broth:
Put all the bones and other ‘inedible’ pieces back in your slow cooker (along with the juices). I throw the skin out, but some people leave it in.
Add a splash of apple cider vinegar, some fresh garlic and peppercorns (and onion, carrots, celery if you’d like).
Cook overnight on low.
Strain the broth.
If you want low-fat, store it in the refrigerator for a few hours and the fat will solidify on top- then just scoop it off!
I usually store some in the fridge for immediate use, and freeze the rest in bags or jars (leaving room for expansion- learned that lesson the hard way!).
Whew- looks like a long post, but it really is incredibly simple and takes little ‘hands on’ time.
This chicken is so moist and flavorful for two main reasons: it’s cooked very slowly, and it’s cooked with the bones in and skin on. I don’t eat the skin, but leaving it on during cooking produces dramatically different meat!
If I haven’t convinced you- do a little research on chicken broth, and try it for yourself!