A few years ago a dear childhood friend was coming over for dinner to our new home. When we were growing up and she would be over, she always loved it when my mom made chicken and dumplings. So I thought, in honor of her coming to my home for dinner I would make chicken and dumplings for the first time. I had helped/watched my mom do it lots, but I had never done it myself. The recipe (which I think originally came from a great aunt that always made it) called for a whole chicken. Well I had never cooked a whole chicken before but for the sake of authentic flavor, I bought one and boiled it. But when it came time to do something with it, I had no idea! I called my mom, “What do I do with it now?!”
I think this is a sentiment many of my generation probably feel, seeing as how most of our chicken comes in the form of a nugget or breast. If we are being adventurous, a thigh or drumstick. But rarely whole. So my mom gave some pointers and I managed to get enough meat off to call it a day and went on to the next part of the dumpling process. It turned out okay but the next time I made dumplings, I just bought breast with rib meat and didn’t mess with the whole carcass!
A while back, I came upon this recipe that tells how to cook a whole chicken in a crock pot. I thought it sounded good since I had heard that it was the cheapest way to buy chicken. And I liked the idea that it could be used for several meals. So I put it on my meal plan, and as luck would have it, Walmart had a “fancy” chicken on sale. (By “fancy” I mean, hormone-free, cage-free, antibiotic-free, yada yada yada…whatever else the fancy organic chickens have on their label.)
Basically the recipe says you cut up one onion and put in the bottom of the crock pot. Then you blend up some spices, all of which were basic enough that I already had them. You rub the spice in and on the chicken. (Kinda gross. It said you could put it under the skin, which I tried, but had a hard time finding an opening. And I don’t love touching it.) The grossest part was when it said to take the giblet out. I did manage to find that and take it out with some tongs. Yuck! What is that?! Then you put the bird in the pot and turn it on high for five hours.
When it was done, I got a knife and carving fork, planning to lift the bird out. The recipe said that it would falling off the bone, and I underestimated that it would be just that! It fell all to pieces! So basically I just used the tongs to lift out all the meat. I left the bones in there.
Later after eating dinner, I followed this basic idea to turn it into homemade chicken stock. I used some of the stock to make a chicken taco soup the next day and froze the rest of it. They say homemade stock is so healthy, especially compared to canned chicken broth, so I can’t wait to use the rest of it.
All in all, this process was really easy and I feel like it yielded some healthy food for my family so I would definitely do it again. C said he thought some of the meat was a little dry, and as I had it in the pot, the breast meat was sticking up out of the liquid , so next time I am going to put it breast side down and see if it helps with that. I would recommend trying this!