slow cooking expert and mom to three
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A Year of Slow Cooking

Monday, January 11, 2010

Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken


Happy Monday! Thank you so much for your wonderful comments and emails about the new baby. We're all doing really well, and can definitely feel your warm wishes and love floating through cyberspace.

You all are fantastically amazing. Thank you.

The above picture doesn't look like much----it's just a bowl full of shredded chicken. I felt like sharing, though, because sometimes I get questions on how to utilize the slow cooker for meal planning and for stocking the freezer, and thought this might be helpful.

While in the midst of my crazy nesting phase these past few weeks, my father-in-law reported that our local grocery store had a sale on chicken quarters for $0.57 a pound. That's a fantastic price for around here, and I popped on down to pick up a bunch of packages.

Although I did process quite a bit of chicken (de-skinned, and broke into meal-sized portions for future slow-cooked meals!) for the freezer, I also cooked quite a bit so we'd have already-cooked chicken ready to go for lunches, snacks, and dinners.

This is what I did:

The chicken quarters were bone-in thigh and leg pieces, and they did have skin. While the chicken was still fresh, I skinned a bunch and threw it into the largest slow cooker I have, which is 6.5 quarts. I was able to get 8 quarters in the pot. I also filled a 5 quart with 6 additional quarters.

And then I covered with lids and turned them on low for 7 hours. I did not add water, broth, or any seasoning. You certainly can if you'd like, but I was interested in shredded, naked chicken.

When the time elapsed, I took the lid off and let the chicken cool quite a bit before I handled it. There was plenty of juice left in the pot---enough to make a soup base if you were so inclined, or for homemade chicken broth (put the bones back in the pot for the broth!)

I then dug through to separate the bones and the chicken. You can use the chicken in a meal right away that calls for already-cooked chicken, or you can freeze for later use.

coming up soon: sweet mustard roast


more staple ideas:

homemade chicken broth
homemade refried beans
making your own "canned" beans
cooking a whole chicken
rotisserie chicken
homemade cream of mushroom soup
meal planning with the slow cooker

50 comments:

Michel-lee said...

Very interesting. I would have thought you needed to add liquid. I would love to try this with chicken breast. I'm not much of a dark meat/skin/bone-in person. I've got to use my crockpot more often.

Horse Filled Days said...

Great idea, I think I will try this, having already cooked, shredded chicken in the freezer would be a great time saver. And, you can make chicken stock out of it too, very economical! Thanks!

http://horsefilleddays.blogspot.com/

Kaye said...

Wow, that would be a good price for chicken anywhere. Thanks for the recipe.

mommaof4wife2r said...

i don't want to sound stupid, but i have always added water of some type bc i thought the meat would scorch before the juices started to run. this is a great discovery for me. thanks!

Sarah said...

I always use the crock pot to make chicken for a casserole we like that is pretty time-consuming if I don't cook the chicken beforehand. Throwing the chicken on in the morning means all I have to do when I get home is throw the ingredients in the dish and cook. You've reminded me though about making larger portions and freezing them - I have surgery coming up and I'll be out of commission for 6 weeks, so this will be a huge help!

Holley T said...

I also slow cook chicken for other recipes but I use a whole chicken (6-7 lbs) and I do remove the skin. I quarter a large onion and separate and peel a head of garlic. I put the quartered onion and half the garlic cloves in the bottom of the crockpot. I rub the chicken with a paste made of olive oil, paprika, kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper then put the rest of the garlic cloves in the body cavity of the chicken and cook it on low for 6-7 hours. It is SO good and makes a great tasting casseroles!

Jan said...

thank you for all your helpful inspiration. You've shared so much and done it so well.

Amie said...

huh...how does it not burn without the water? nature (and slow cookers) are just amazing. :) I have to admit I am a boneless/skinless breast type girl. I can't get myself to handle chicken and/or pay for the weight of bones, skin, etc. I'm a wimp and lazy I guess. :)

Stephanie O'Dea said...

Hi Michel-lee and Amie, if you would like to shred boneless, skinless breast pieces, I would definitely add some water---maybe 1/3 to 1/2 cup for a full slow cooker. Breast pieces are much drier and won't give off as much cooking liquid on their own.

Also, if you have vent holes in your slow cooker, or if it doesn't seal well (you can tell because there won't be much if any built up condensation on the lid), you may want to put a layer of foil down, and then the lid to help trap in the moisture.

xoxo steph

Sarah said...

Michel-lee and Amie: I always add chicken broth or stock instead of water when I'm just cooking chicken breasts. It may just be psychological, but I always feel like that helps with flavor instead of water. :-)

Margaret said...

Thanks for this information. Now I can't wait until the next chicken sale!

Carol said...

I have done this with a whole chicken as well. The skin comes off very easily as does the meat. The nice part about a whole chicken is having the white and dark meat, yet it's simple to separate them. I use a meat fork to pull the meat out in pieces (breasts, legs, then the cavity which I cool in a strainer beforing pullin the meat from it).

jewelryandgiftsbyrebecca said...

Wow, I never thought of doing that but what a helpful hint. Thanks.
BTW- I admire you, I couldn't even look at raw chicken when I was pregnant, much less touch it. Urrr...

michelle said...

you are brilliant, you know that, right? fabulous idea. I'm trying to come up with more recipes to utilize left over chicken which can be challenging since my husband doesn't do casseroles. But what a fabulous way to plan prior to a new baby. Congratulations by the way!

I'm So Pretty said...

I did this recently with a whole chicken. Our local Weis had a special on chickens for 59-cents/lb awhile back and I'd purchased two birds. I skinned and defatted them then just put them into the slow cooker on low overnight. Drain off the resulting juices for the best broth EVER, and shred the chicken for salads, DS's sandwiches, adding to frozen veg for a quick stir-fry, etc. Works SO WELL!!

sarah said...

When I discovered that I could fit a small, whole chicken in my slow cooker I was ecstatic! It's great to have a roasted chicken so easily; make the whole week's meals easier.

Tracychele @ The Week-Ender said...

Hi Stephanie. Congrats on your new little bundle of joy! I had to come by and tell you that my Mom, who is also a blogger, ran across info about your cookbook (Make it fast, cook it slow) and bought me one for Christmas. I have to tell you I have NEVER dog-eared so many pages in a cookbook! I can NOT wait to cook these recipes. I am making my list right now. This will be my favorite cookbook. I have four kids and every little bit helps! Thanks! Have a great day!

The Boob Nazi said...

Interesting! I think I need to get your cookbook because I LOVE this blog.

Shannon said...

I started doing this about 6 months ago and it sooo saves me on busy nights! using the dark meat no water needed, they are sooo full of fat! The cool thing is you end up with lower fat meat when you are done. I have reused this fat yet, but I was thinking of added all the vegetable ends I have been saving and topping off with water for broth, otherwise it would just be pure chicken fat.

Cristie said...

Wonderful information. I will have to check this book out, great post. Thank you!

Emma said...

Great post. I like using leftover shredded chicken to make chicken salad for sandwiches. I have also used leftover shredded chicken to make chicken tacos or mixed into a broccoli/rice/cheese casserole. Then again, it is also good for snacking on straight out of the fridge!

Debbi Smith said...

This is a fantastic idea. I've done this before and it saves so much money, especially when you can get the chicken for super cheap!

Jan said...

I've always been a 'white meat only,' but I spotted a 39cent/lb leg quarters sale for 10lb bags. Might have to get a bag (or more if the meat looks nice). The same store also has ham ends and pieces @ .99/lb in the same 2 day sale. Guess where I'll be?
Thx, Steph, for the inspi!

Linda said...

I just wanted to let you know that your website is one of those that always brings a smile to my face.
I am passing on to you the Happy 101 award, you can pick it up at http://cemeterydivas.blogspot.com/

TJ said...

I worked at a deli and we always had precooked shredded and precooked cubed chicken in the freezer. We made oriental chicken salad, chicken pesto salad sandwiches, a fruity chicken salad for sandwiches and so much more with it. It is an extremely versatile way to keep chicken!

Betsy Madison said...

This is my favorite use for my crockpot. Dinner is easy to get on the table after work when there's shredded chicken ready to throw into a variety of recipes!!

Have to share this funny story. Monday morning I asked my co-worker (we both love to cook and share recipes) "So, what exciting things did you cook this weekend?" She said, "I made an enchilada casserole." I said, "Me too! I made mine in my crockpot." She said, "In your crockpot? Are you sure? Cuz I made mine in my crockpot." I said, "Yes, in my crockpot. There's this great blog I read called 'A Year of Slow Cooking'...." She said, "Nooooo, I read it too!" Can you believe it? We both made your crockpot enchilada casserole this past Sunday. We both loved it!!

DIRTy Little Secrets said...

I too thought you had to add water when cooking chicken...I always add water...love crockpotting plain chicken for future meals...huge time saver!

The Crazy Suburban Mom said...

I'm new to your blog and this is great. I've not found this chicken that cheap - thats a great price. But I can find it at 89 cents. I would totally do this!

And will!

Tracy

Amber said...

You inspired me, and I went out and bought a whole chicken after seeing them on sale. I've always bought boneless, skinless breasts, so WOW... I had no idea what I was in for! I felt like I was in anatomy class again as I pulled all that gunk out of the cavity (chicken heart anyone?). And man oh man, is skin tough to get off! But it was all worth it... at the end of the day I had a lovely roasted chicken and plenty to use in quesadillas and chicken salad for the next few days!

Sandee said...

Another thing I do with any crock pot cookery is to spray the inside of the pot with a bit of TJ canola oil spray. Helps a lot with the clean up.

(I don't do this when I make your fabulous cheesecake though).

Congratulations on your new daughter!

Wishful Nals said...

love your blog. what a great idea!

Ahl Cooped Up said...

Thank you!
My Daughter requested Chicken Salad on everything bagels.
I was so busy that day, in and out of the house, that I put the chicken breasts and thighs in the crock pot like you said. Mine turned out perfect in 5 hours on low.
I swear my Crock pot is faster than normal.
I had 2 cups of stock to freeze. Thanks, and happy new Baby!

jan said...

I bought the 39 cent/lb chicken leg quarters that I mentioned before. They came in 10-lb bags, so I bought 2 bags. One bag of chicken is stripped and in the big crock. Second bag's in the freezer. How often do we find loss-leaders like that?
Thanks to your blog, I know what to watch for. Thank YOU!

Martha@Menagerie said...

You are amazing! I can see I'll be coming back here on a regular basis! Congrats on the new baby :-)

Eloquacious said...

Exactly what I needed to read when I saw whole chickens on sale for $.47/lb! The limit was six, so I went to two different Safeways...thankfully we have a huge freezer!

I am used to roasting whole chickens and such, so I don't mind the icky bits... and we're not afraid of the fat, (chicken fat is actually remarkably healthy, similar to olive oil) so we leave the skin on. I literally just throw the chicken in and leave. I made a "tamale casserole" today with most of the chicken from my first attempt, and will make chicken salad tomorrow with the rest. The bones are busy making stock. YUM. Cheap and so healthy.

(Not as healthy as pastured chickens would be, but when those are more than ten times the price I'm afraid it's conventional chickens for us for a good while.)

Also, we're gluten and dairy free around these parts, so I love your recipes! ;)

Wendy said...

This is such a great idea! My only concern is reheating the chicken. Reheated chicken, especially if done in the microwave, usually has a icky flavor to it. Any ideas on reheating?

Jamie said...

Hi Steph! Thanks for the basic recipe. My mom is coming over and we are going to try to make a bunch of meals for the freezer since I am headed back to work. I have a crockpot full of chicken breast ready to go for tomorrow! Question for you though- do you think bone-in chicken breast will have a different cooking time than yours? Also, do I need to add liquid to my bone-in breasts? Thanks so much Stephanie! Congrats on the new baby- the fact that you are up and blogging is AMAZING!

Stephanie O'Dea said...

Hi Wendy,

I haven't noticed a weird flavor when microwaving to reheat, but I usually have mixed the chicken with bbq sauce or something by then. I usually toss the cooked chicken into a skillet when reheating for a stir fry or with taco seasoning. It also works well cold as sandwich stuffing.

Jamie,

I'd maybe add 1/4 to 1/3 cup of water or broth, just because breasts are usually not as juicy as dark meat.

xoxo steph

Rona's Home Page said...

I'll have to try this one. I'm planning on making some enchiladas.

Mama Rockwell said...

Congrats on your new baby! Chicken went on sale today so I used my crockpot to cook it. I love it! It was so much easier than standing over a hot stove. Tomorrow I'm going to use the juice and bones to make broth. Thanks for the tip!

Anonymous said...

I used the bones to make an overnight broth, which I froze for later. Chicken has gone into 2 meals now. Buffalo-wing pulled chicken sandwiches and creole rice w/chicken. Too lazy to add sausage or shrimp. But THAT leftover is stashed now.

vintage doorknobs said...

There are never enough chicken recipes and this one looks like it can be used for a few different meals.
Thanks.

DAveA said...

Just found your site. And last week just bought my first crock pot - a small one for just 2. Your recipes and wit is great. I am subscribing for daily watching. thanks so much!

Christine said...

Hmm, great idea. I'm totally going to try this. Thank you!

Kirsten said...

This is similar to my favorite lazy crockpot "recipes". I am freakish about handling raw chicken skin, etc., so I snag the frozen boneless/skinless chicken breasts on sale and dump them in my 6.5 quart crockpot with either a jar of salsa or a bottle of BBQ sauce. Cook on low, shred, and have on hand for whatever! Can't get easier than that!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your blog. I never used my crockpot for anything put bbq because I thought everything else required cream of mushroom gravy - not my favorite. Thanks to your blog, I have now made yogurt in my crockpot, and I have shredded chicken cooking right now ($0.79/lb for quarters - what a deal!). Thanks for opening my eyes to a whole new side of crockpottery.

Fiona's Bella said...

I happened upon this post just as I had a refrigerator full of chicken breasts. I cooked them without any liquid, and when they were done I had fabulous "naked" chicken ready to be shredded and enough chicken broth to make a pot of soup. This was a GREAT idea!!

Jenni said...

I tried this recipe today and am thrilled with this results! I could only find chicken breasts (bone in), but it was hands down the best shredded chicken I've ever made. I used it this evening in one of our standard recipes (with 2 extra recipe-portions for the freezer) and it was great. The chicken separated from the bone easily, and shredded even easier! Thank you!!

Kethryvis said...

i think i'm in love. i've grown annoyed by canned chicken... it tastes funny to me anymore which makes it difficult to do stuff like chicken salad and whatnot. My Safeway just had chicken quarters on sale for $0.77/lb which is pretty awesome. i got a package, and i think i'm gonna go tomorrow and get another package. i've got almost six cups of shredded chicken (4 in the freezer, 2 in the fridge for chicken salad later), and i'm gonna whip up some chicken broth tomorrow. i'm trying to lay in supplies now while i still have a job (it's ending in a few weeks), so i feel very giddy and excited that i can lay in this type of stuff now, know i'm saving money *and* be able to be eating fairly healthy during my (probably lengthy) unemployment! (but at least i'll get the thesis mostly done i hope...)

Kari said...

Trying this now with 4 lbs of chicken thighs and drumsticks from Angel Food Ministries...which is great for people who are low income, unemployed, retired, whatever...barely fit in my 5.5 qt Crock Pot! They appear to be skinless so we shall see. They're frozen so I added a bit of warm water to the crock.

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