When teaching others how to eat real food on a budget, one of the tips I always like to share is our favorite “recipe” for cooked shredded chicken. As you know, our family loves our roast chicken dinners, and I am certain that the roasted chicken recipe we shared in our first cookbook will always be a family favorite. However, when we just need to restock our freezer with cooked shredded chicken, we cook our chicken in a crock pot. Not only is it incredibly simple, cooking chicken in a crock pot also offers much easier cleanup than one roasted in the oven.
Now, does this chicken does have the same eye appeal as a perfectly roasted bird? No. However, once the skin has been removed (save it for broth), it makes perfectly good chicken to cook, shred, and freeze for the future. (White Chicken Chili, Farmer’s Market Fried Rice, and Chicken and Mango Thai Salad are some of our favorites.)
When freezing the chicken, I suggest you do so in both 3 – cup and 1 1/2 – cup increments. Three cups is equal to 1 pound of cooked shredded chicken and 1 1/2 cups is equal to a 1/2 pound. These are the amounts most recipes call for. One and a half cups is also the perfect amount to pull out for quesadillas, or just to heat up and dip in ketchup. (Please note that I am NOT endorsing any specific brand of ketchup. I learned that lesson earlier this week on the Healthnut Foodie Facebook page. It turns out ketchup is just as personal as toliet paper.)
Cooking a whole chicken instead of boneless skinless breasts can easily save your family over $40.00 a month. As I mentioned when I shared our favorite recipe for homemade chicken broth, our family can enjoy three organic chicken dinners and make three quarts of broth for less than $12.00. If we were to purchase an equal amount of boxed broth and boneless skinless breasts, the bill would be closer to $30.00. Winner winner, cooked-shredded-chicken-from-the-crock-pot-dinner!
Crock Pot Chicken
4 pound-ish chicken, preferably organic
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
Assorted fresh herbs, optional
Place chicken in a 5 or 6 quart slow cooker.
Drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. If desired, stuff fresh garden herbs in cavity of bird. We like to use a combination of rosemary, sage, oregano, and thyme.
Cover slow cooker and cook on high for 3 1/2 hours, or until the thickest part of the thigh registers 165 degrees.
Let cool for about 30 minutes. (Otherwise you will burn your hands. It hurts.)
Shred, freeze, eat, and enjoy!
Notes: Did you know that dark meat chicken contains more iron and B-vitamins that the white meat? It’s true! When properly chilled, cooked shredded chicken stays fresh in the fridge for up to 5 days, or frozen in a labeled and dated freezer bag for up to 3 months. This crock pot chicken is naturally gluten-free and nut-free. Vegetarians, I’ll be sharing an awesome spring recipe with you very soon.