Slow Cooked Whole Chicken
It’s utterly drab outside. I’m hovering over the kitchen sink as I take bites of a crispy sweet potato pan-fried in bacon grease. Damn—that’s good. It’s 10:30 am and I’m supposed to be in class but I’m playing hooky today...Do people still call skipping school hooky? I was feeling way too inspired to go sit in my literature class. I glanced into my fridge; I forgot I had that chicken. I’m leaving Friday—I should probably cook that today. I scavenge for some green onion stuffed in the very back corner behind all the other veggies; they’re fridge frozen, but they will do. I grab a couple of cloves of garlic. And some carrots I randomly chopped and then never used. Oh! and about those onions I have accidentally been hoarding…
…I munch happily on a piece of overcooked bacon. I take the bag of gizzards outside of the chicken. Keep those. That’s the good stuff. The tea kettle is boiling. Crap! I forgot I put the kettle on. I pour myself tea. Earl Gray—a favorite on rainy days. I put the chicken, and the gizzards, in my slow cooker, along with chopped onions, smashed garlic, sage leaves and carrots. Also, apple cider vinegar. Can’t forget the vinegar. It helps draw out the nutrients from the bones, remember!?
I have nearly forgotten about my tea. Oh, good, it’s still warm. I turn on my slow cooker. Low and slow for about eight hours. Wait, no. Make that six hours. I take another bite of my sweet potato—yup, still good. I’ll clean the plate later…
- Slow Cooker Chicken and Broth
- The ingredients listed here are totally just suggestions—feel free to improvise with what you have on hand. Don't try flavoring the broth with cruciferous veggies —that makes for a bitter broth. And remember the apple cider vinegar, that is important. Salt is not included in this recipe because this is not a recipe for chicken soup but rather chicken broth and slow cooked chicken meat that can be used to make a delicious soup. Salt accordingly.
- 1 whole chicken + gizzards
- 5 carrots, roughly chopped
- 1 yellow onion, quartered
- 1 bunch green onion
- 4 cloves garlic, smashed
- 1/2 bunch of sage leaves
- a splash of apple cider vinegar equivalent to two tablespoons
- optional: 1 pound chicken backs, 1 pound chicken necks, 1 pair of chicken feet
- Place all ingredients in slow cooker/crock pot
- Use enough water, preferably filtered, to just barely cover the chicken
- Set to cook on low for roughly six hours
- Once the chicken is cooked through, remove it from the broth and let it cool before pulling the meat off of the bones. While the chicken is cooling, strain the broth into mason jars and place in refrigerator to cool—this should give you two quart sized mason jars filled with broth. Once you have removed the meat from the chicken bones, place the remaining skins and bones back in the crock pot. This is where you add the optional chicken backs, necks and/or feet. Cover with just enough water to barely cover the remaining bones and turn on low for another eight to ten hours for another batch of broth—if you do this, repeat the same process you did for the first batch (eg. strain the broth, place in the refrigerator, once it cools scrape whatever fat has solidified on the top off.)
- After four or five hours, check on the broth that is cooling in the refrigerator; a solid layer of fat will most likely have formed on the top of the soup—it will appear white and thick. Just scrape this off and save the chicken schmaltz (chicken fat!) for pan-frying veggies—yum. You want to remove the fat from the broth because oily soup isn't very appetizing.
- You just made slow cooker chicken + a big batch of broth. You can use both the slow cooker chicken and the broth to make a nourishing soup. Alternatively, the slow cooker chicken can be used to make a chicken salad, used on-top of green salads for protein, etc. The broth can be used for a big batch of soup, to freeze for later use or for a nourishing start to your day in place of coffee.