Today I’m going to be sharing my favorite, lazy way to cook a chicken and make stock. I’ve been cooking whole chickens and making my own stock for maybe 1.5- 2 years now, and I can’t believe I was ever intimidated by the idea. A whole chicken has become almost a cooking necessity in my house. I rely on it for the easiest way to make homemade stock, which as you’ve probably heard, is chock full of nutrients and beneficial for the immune system. It is also incredibly more flavorful and rich than the store bought versions, so I rely on it for a truly flavorful soup. And it is frugal.
When I prepare shredded chicken and stock by the method I’m describing today, I always feel like I made money. I’m convinced that this is the absolute best bang for your buck when it comes to chicken. The chickens I buy typically hit the $5 mark. The amount of stock and meat you will get will of course vary based on the size of the chicken, but the last time I made it I got 5 cups of super rich stock and enough meat for approx. 4 meals (meals where of course the chicken isn’t the only component – see recipe ideas below). All for $5! Crazy.
- Place a whole chicken in a crock pot and cover it with fresh water, including giblets & any other bones you have (it’s okay if it’s not completely covered. My crock pot is small, so it never is. I just turn it occasionally while it’s cooking). Add any vegetables you have in your fridge to flavor – I usually use carrots, celery, and onion. Let sit for one hour with 1-2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar (optional, as per the nourishing traditions cookbook) and then turn crock pot to high. Let cook until chicken is cooked through/ 165 internal temperature – approx 4-5 hours depending on side of bird.
- Use a wooden spoon inserted into chicken’s cavity to carefully lift chicken out of crock pot. Once cool, shred chicken with two forks or fingers, placing all bones and unused bits into a bowl. As you can see from photo, I sometimes cut off whole breasts for an easy meal. Chicken should be very easy to cut or shred to your preference. Place cooked chicken in fridge to store.
- Throw entire carcass and every bone BACK into crock pot and turn crock pot to low. At this point you can add more veggies if you couldn’t fit them at step 1. Leave crock pot on for a total duration of 24 hours.
- Make sure your stock has cooled, and then pour through a strainer into a bowl, pressing down to release all stock. I like to use a fine strainer after this so I get a very clean stock. Store stock for up to one week in fridge and freeze any unused in jars with ample space at the top of jar.
So, a couple more thoughts:
This is only one method to prepare a whole chicken and stock. There are MANY. As I mentioned above, it is my favorite, lazy way to do so, and taking the chicken early out actually allows you to use the meat, rather than letting it dry out and cook the full 24 hours. Alternatively, you can roast the chicken and then make stock with the cooked bones (but I’d recommend throwing in some more bones for the full amount of stock this way produces).
Another reason to do it this way: easy meal prep! Shredded chicken is incredibly versatile. Here’s some recipes I’ve used it for or thought looked good:
–Chicken Soup with Lime and Cilantro
–Leftover Roast Chicken Soup
–Crock Pot Butternut Squash, Chicken, & Quinoa Soup (you would add the chicken at the very end until just warm)
–Chicken Taco Bowls (again, add chicken at very end)
-And of course it’s hardly a recipe, but we love to slather it in hot sauce.
That’s it! Let me know if you try it or have your own favorite method.