A whole chicken is nothing to be afraid of.

A whole chicken is nothing to be afraid of.

I thought whole chickens were difficult to cook.
I thought whole chickens were disgusting.
I thought whole chickens would demand too much time.

And then I tried it.

And I found out whole chickens are
just regular meat
(aside from a few stray feathers, shiver)
and so quick to prepare
(let your crockpot do the work!).

Plus, you get a gallon of free chicken broth to boot!

Here’s the deets.

Thaw a whole chicken.
(Miller’s has great chickens at Owen’s or Eagle Creek,
or get a big stash from a local farmer.)

I got a poultry rub once from the Spice Merchants in The Village,
but any of your favorite herbs will add wonderful flavor.DSC_0900

First, rub oil all over the chicken (even under the skin and
inside the cavity, if you can stand it!). Oil=moist meat!DSC_0901

Then your spices. (I’ve done it plain plenty of times
and just season it with whatever meals I make it into.)DSC_0902

No need to add water or anything else.
The chicken provides its own juices.
(I have friends who add veggies at this point,
but since we use the chicken for several different
meals, I cook my sides separately.)

Cook on low for 6-8 hours.DSC_0903

The most tedious task of cooking a whole chicken is the deboning process.
Get yourself a good nap time with a short TV episode showing on your
iPad to pick all the bones out. Or an eager-to-help husband.

Yeah, Option Two is definitely the way to go.

Use the chicken meat however you want.

Then place the bones and skin back in the crockpot.
All that juice is just from cooking the chicken!

Cover with (filtered) water.
Cook for 8-24 hours.

I typically cook it overnight and strain it whenever I get to it during the next day.DSC_0984

Then I strain the bones from the broth and toss ’em in the trash. Try to break a bone.
I’m serious. It’ll break like a toothpick. That means you did your job.
Got all that nutritious collagen out. A.mazing.

Now. My mesh strainer died about two weeks ago. I’d definitely recommend using
that over the one I used here. Wanted to try it before I purchased a redundant gadget.
But it allowed more little bits in my broth than I would prefer. Don’t think it’s bad,
just not as smooth and clear. My two (four?) cents.DSC_0986

When I fill my crockpot to the top with water, it yields four quarts of broth!

You can use it right away, or you can store it. A few days for refrigeration,
several weeks in the freezer. I always cool them on the counter ’til room temperature,
several hours in the fridge, and then place them in the freezer. Prevents cracked jars.

(Note: if you’re planning to store these in the freezer, leave some breathing room in the jars.
Otherwise, you’ll end up with shattered glass in your thawed broth. Ask me how I know.)DSC_0988

Look at the rich fat collecting at the top! Mmm.
And the color. Rich, rich, RICH.
(This jar has the floaties since it wasn’t strained so finely.)

See how much smoother these ones are? Yep. Mesh strainer’s worth it!

Personally, I started making chicken broth more because it’s free than because it’s healthy.
But healthy it is! If you’d like to read more about the health benefits of homemade bone broth,
click here.

One last tip. I have yet to remember to do this, but if your mind hasn’t been zapped of all its remembering power, do the following: every time you peel any vegetables, save the peelings
in a baggie in the freezer. When you make your chicken broth, place all your peelings in the crockpot too. Your body will appreciate the extra nutrients, and you’ll be feeling extra frugal.

  • Sara Richey
    Posted at 22:56h, 29 January Reply

    Pinning this! Not sure if I’ll ever be brave enough to try it myself, but if I do, this is helpful! :-)

    • theredheads
      Posted at 23:24h, 29 January Reply

      Ha! It’s only scary before you do it the first time. You can’t ruin a whole chicken in the crockpot. Even if you try. And it’s totally worth trying!

  • Angie Leopold
    Posted at 15:20h, 29 January Reply

    I put a whole celery base and the leafy celery tops in my last batch 2 weeks ago, along with carrot peelings. Also I set aside the giblets bag in the fridge and re-added after removing the chicken meat. It was a great broth. Definitely use option 2 for deboning – husband help is wonderful. The Bengali people always break their bones when cooking in order to get more nutrition from them. But that is too tedious for me

    I didn’t spice up the chicken before cooking, just cooked it plain. Another thing I did was scoop off the chicken fat after chilling it. Both suggestions helped me as I’ve been having some pregnancy discomforts and need bland food. I found that my small crockpot makes such concentrated broth that I can use half that is called for in the recipe, and add half water.

    And you are the one who got me started doing this!

    Hams were on sale at Aldi so I got 2, and I’m saving the bones and rubbish in the freezer for when I’m ready to try a ham bone broth? We’ll see how that goes! I’m told Ham Bone is a great base for split pea soup and stuff.

    • theredheads
      Posted at 22:26h, 29 January Reply

      My chickens only sometimes come with giblets, but I always wondered if they were safe to put in with the broth. I don’t see why not, but I just didn’t know! Glad to know someone who’s done it…and lived to tell the tale:)

      You can basically break the bones by the end, because all their life has been sucked out of them! I bet if you really let it go the full 24 hours, there’s no way you could get any other nutrients!

      I’ve actually heard that you can fill it with water, do it for 8 hours, strain it, and fill it again. Makes for thinner broth, BUT you get twice as much! I think that’s a great idea, but I also like my thicker stuff. Glad to know you water yours down…

      Ha, glad to be of service. Can’t believe it took us this long to start doing something so easy…and good!

      Ooo ham bone broth sounds perfect! I’ve done it once with some beef I crockpot-ed but have never tried ham!

      Thanks for the feedback, Ang!

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