Thursday, September 30, 2010

Making Every Penny Count -- Slowcooker Chicken

My grocery store rotates what meats are on sale each week. As I'm shopping for what's on my grocery list, I always keep my eye out for the sales. Chicken is one thing that is expensive at full price, but goes on great sales. That's when I snap it up! Occasionally I put the packages in the freezer for later; more often I fire up my Crockpot.

I layer aromatic veggies, seasonings and the chicken together in the slow cooker and several hours later I have chicken fully cooked, ready to be shredded and placed in the freezer.

3-4 pounds chicken (I prefer bone-in, skin-on and a mix of dark and white meats)
1 onion, peeled and quartered
handful of baby carrots
a few celery ribs with leaves, cut into 3 inch sections
2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
salt and pepper to taste
1-2 cups of water/chicken broth
(seasoning of your choice, optional)

All this just goes in the slow cooker for  6-8 hours. Boneless, skinless breasts will cook faster and will require the use of low-sodium chicken broth instead of water. Depending on what I'll be using the chicken for, I sometimes add lemon-pepper seasoning or herbs, but mostly I just use S&P since the chicken is going in the freezer to use at a later date.

Once the chicken is cool enough to handle, de-bone it and shred it (or dice it) placing it in quart-sized freezer bags. Don't forget to label the bags with the contents and date! Allow the chicken to cool fully before placing the bags flat in the freezer. Keeping them flat makes for easier storage and faster thawing when it's time to use them.

Finally, you'll want to strain your broth and reserve that, too. Make sure it's cool, then pour it into labelled freezer bags and freeze it flat. 

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