It was that time of week again – we were running low on broth, which is a staple in much of our cooking. I pulled our last chicken out of the freezer (a 3lb organic, free-range bird delivered by Harvest Local Foods) and left it to defrost in the fridge overnight.
With the recent onslaught of snow and ice, I was home with the boys for the better part of the week, so I was looking for a solution that didn’t require my watchful eye as much as the usual endeavor of boiling, skimming, and adding water as needed over a 6-24 hour period.
With this in mind, it dawned on me that I’ve never roasted a chicken in my crock-pot. A perfect stroke of serendipity! The results were quite yummy, so I thought I’d share this lengthy (it takes a good day to fully execute) but simple recipe in two parts.
*Note: For reference, I use a 6QT Slow Cooker (not worth noting the brand)
One 2-4lb chicken (thawed)
2-3T ghee, melted (optional)
2 medium onions, chopped
6-8 small cloves of garlic
2 large carrots, chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
2 pieces of orange (or clementine) peel (optional)
Small handful of sea salt (mineral rich salts are best)
1T thyme, dried (or a couple fresh sprigs)
Place the chicken in the crock-pot. Add the chopped onions and garlic (I also added some of these to the chicken cavity) then arrange the carrots, celery, and orange peel around the outer edge. If using ghee, slice through the skin in a few places and drizzle over the bird. Scatter salt and thyme evenly over everything, and cover. At this point, wash your helpful toddler’s hands, if by chance s/he was petting the chicken at any point during the process! Cook for 8-10 hours on low. The chicken will make its own liquid.
Next step: Allow the contents to cool and remove the chicken from the pot, leaving the drippings and veggies. (Be careful – it WILL fall apart!) Remove the meat from the bones and store in a separate container (or serve).
Chicken Bone Broth
Bones from the above chicken
6-8 cups of filtered water
2T raw apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
An extra dash of sea salt (optional)
Place the bones and any salvageable cartilage back into the crock-pot. Add the water, vinegar, and salt. Let everything sit for 1 hour while the vinegar draws more minerals from the bones, then cook on low for an additional 8-10 hours. Allow the broth to cool and then strain into a large bowl through a fine mesh strainer. If you prefer to reduce the fat content, place the bowl in the fridge for a few hours and the fat will rise to the surface and solidify, at which point you can easily remove it. Otherwise, ladle the broth into storage containers (preferably glass) and put away. I usually keep a large container in the fridge for the week and freeze smaller containers for later.
Making homemade broth is a wonderful way to use your entire chicken. It is delicious and easy to use in many different dishes; adding healthful minerals such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorous and trace minerals, joint-supporting glucosamine and chondroitin, gut-healing gelatin and healthy fats. It is also a delicious warm beverage, especially on a bitter winter day.
As for the pieces of roasted chicken, they are great for snacking and an excellent addition to sautéed veggies. If you eat rice, a good “cook ahead” meal that keeps well is rice cooked in broth with chicken added.
Waste not, want not! Have Fun and be creative!