Welcome to round two of Foundations in Cooking! Today we’re going to talk about roasting a whole chicken in a crockpot, then moving on to create a stock from the leftovers. It is very easy and only mildly time-consuming, on the back end. This is something I like to do once a month, so that we have plenty of broth, as well as chicken in the freezer, ready for meals.
First check that you have removed any packets of innards or whatnot from the cavities (not all chickens still include this), and place it in the crockpot, breast side down. This keeps the breast meat from drying out.
Select what spices you’d like to cook it with. Our favorites combinations are creole/Cajun seasoning + Italian seasoning, or Italian seasoning + salt + garlic powder. Don’t be afraid to drench the chicken (as seen above) in spices. The skin will taste amazing later, and the broth will get a nice flavor. Last time I did all three spices since the Cajun seasoning was almost gone. *Check your spice mixes to ensure that they do not contain allergens for your family.
Set your crockpot on low, and leave it for at least 8 hours. We usually do 8-12. At this point the chicken will be falling off of the bones. Remove the chicken using tongs, onto a platter, plate, or cutting board. Let it cool a bit until you can handle the meat without getting burnt, and remove all of the meat from the bones. Set the skin aside with the bones. You have to be careful, as some pieces like the wings and legs have some very small bones that you can miss. I use a fork and my fingers to carefully shred all of the meat. Then I portion the meat into quart freezer bags. You can fill up the bag, or do 1-cup portions so that you can just grab a bag when you need some chicken for salad or a dish. If you are single, I highly recommend doing the portions so that you don’t have any food waste.
Now, to make the stock, you can return the bones and skin to the crockpot (or eat the skin – yum!), add some chopped veggies (or none at all), add water until it is full, cover, and leave on low for at least 12 more hours. We do 12-36 hours, generally, based on when I can get around to straining and jarring the stock. You have two options with the veggies. You can chop up some carrots, celery, and an onion (no need to peel anything.) Or you can start saving ends and leftovers from veggies that you peel and chop up to cook with, and place those in a freezer bag and store in the freezer for every time that you want to make broth. This is called a “broth bag.” We put bones from chicken and the veggie odds and end in our bag, as we save the bones from any meals where we might have bone-in chicken throughout the month.
When you are ready to take the stock out of the pot, you will also want a fine mesh strainer, and a funnel, either regular or canning type, and glass jars with lids. I also use a large bowl, and a slotted spoon, to remove most of the bones and big chunks of veggies first. Place the strainer over the funnel, and place the funnel into the first jar. Use a ladle to scoop out the liquid into the jars. Cover the jars as soon as you are done, and use a towel or pot holder to grip the jar as you tighten the lid. Place the jars immediately in the refrigerator, and the lids will seal tightly. I like to do this instead of canning, since this will only make about 4-5 quart jars of stock, and we use that easily in a month.