Crockpot shredded chicken

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A new farm showed up at the farmer's market last season that supplies pasture raised chickens. For those of you not familiar with the practice, the chickens are raised outdoors in mobile pens. Instead of eating only grain rations, much of their diet is made up of grass, weeds, worms and bugs. Their grain ration is a supplement to their diet, not their only source of nutrition. They also get a lot more exercise than their mass produced relatives. In other words, they get to grow up and act like chickens. These birds also have a lot more flavor and a better nutrition profile than the supermarket birds.

While I sometimes make a whole smoked or roast chicken for a meal, one of my favorite things do when I'm short on time during the school year, is to toss it in the crock pot to make shredded chicken. Not only does the meat come out incredibly tasty, moist and easy to shred, I also get two quarts of some of the best chicken broth imaginable. I can easily make 4 meals for the two of us out of one bird.

Servings:
About 4 meals for 2 people
Preparation Time:
15 minutes of prep, 6-8 hours cooking
Tools
  • Large slow cooker (crockpot)
  • Fine mess strainer
  • large bowl to strain into

Ingredients

  • 1 whole pasture raised chicken
  • 2 tsp poultry rub of your choice
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 small head garlic
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 1 sprig oregano
  • 6 cups water
Cooking Instructions
  1. Spread the poultry rub under the skin of the bird where you can, and over the skin where you can't. If possible, put the rub on the bird a couple hours before cooking.
  2. Cut the carrots and celery in half and put in the bottom of the crockpot. Quarter the onion with the skin on, smash the garlic cloves and toss them in as well. There should now be a nice base of veggies for the bird. Drop in the herbs, then place your bird on top. Add water till it is about half way up the bird.
  3. Set your crockpot on high. In a couple hours when when water has started to simmer, turn it down to low.
  4. Cook until grabbing the breast with tongs and lifting, causes the bird to fall apart. At this point, the connective tissue has dissolved and the meat is ready to shred.
  5. Pull out the pieces of the carcass, and put it on a cutting board to cool for a few minutes.
  6. Put the bowl into the sink. Put the strainer into the bowl. Pour the contents of the crockpot into the bowl. Discard what you strained out. What you have left is some incredible stock that you will need to dilute some for most uses.
  7. Fill the sink, around the bowl with cold water. Stir the stock occasionally to help it transfer it's heat into the water. Once the stock is cool enough, put it into containers and refrigerate.
  8. Remove the meat from the bones and shred. Some people like to use forks, but if the meat is cooked enough, I prefer to use my fingers.

You now have a couple pounds of shredded chicken and a couple quarts of the best chicken stock you've ever tasted.

Notes
Great to use for mexican food, pot pies, BBQ chicken sammiches, chicken salad, and all sorts of other quick meals.

If you prefer chunk chicken, stop cooking when the chicken reaches 180 degrees and cut it up.

It only takes a few extra minutes to make up a good chicken soup for that night.

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I like using the crockpot as

I like using the crockpot as a time saver. I dislike using the crockpot because I do not get the more complex flavours that I can get from cooking some parts of a dish over high heat. One thing I like to do when making crockpot meals is to brown off the aeromatics and meats in a separate pan, deglaze the pan, and add the aeromatics and deglazing liquid to the crockpot. It does not take a much longer than just prepping ingredients for the crockpot and it adds a lot to the final dish.

I do that sometimes with the

I do that sometimes with the veggies sometimes but not always. I suppose I should add that info to the recipe. The reason that I don't always do that with this dish, is that I do brown the veggies that I add to the soup later on. If I was going for a dish that was mostly broth, then it would be important to cook up the veggies first.

I always brown beef or pork before putting it in the crockpot, but for shredded chicken I found that it toughens the meat and makes it a lot harder to shred. After shredding, the chicken browns up quite nicely to get that flavor into your dish. It's all tradeoffs.