Kitchen Tips: Perfect Chicken

Let me start off by saying that this is not perfect chicken.  I know, I’m a liar.  This is not beautiful, golden brown, roasted chicken that Ina Garten bought at her local poultry shop and dressed to perfection.  I have made that chicken and although it is gorgeous and really sets up the tablescape it’s not so great for weekly meal prep.
And I know what you’re thinking.  JB, why are you using a whole chicken?  Why aren’t you talking about chicken breasts that come boneless and skinless and ready for all sorts of healthy meals?  Well I have a really good answer for that.  I am a girl on a budget.  A package of 5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts at Kroger can cost around $5.32 per pound without a sale or coupon.  The whole chicken with skin and bones that I purchased was $5.88 total or $0.99 per pound.  Now, before I learned how to cook a chicken in this easy manner I’m about to show you, this price difference was ok for me because baking chicken breasts was way easier than roasting a chicken.  But as it turns out, I don’t need to roast the chicken to get what I want out of it – juicy, fully cooked chicken that’s ready to be shredded and added to salads, soups or mixed with mayo for a less waist friendly option.

Let’s go through what you’ll need, shall we?  You need a crock pot.  And not just for this recipe.  You need one.  Don’t question it.  Just own one and use it and thank me helping you succeed in life.  I happen to have two of them.  I have a 4 quart pot which did not fit the whole chicken the first time I attempted this recipe, so I had to order this 7 quart beauty off of Amazon.  If I’m being honest, I phoned my mom with my predicament and she ordered it before we were off the phone.  I bought her the same one for Christmas so I think it all evens out.
Anyway, I love this one because you can set it for 2-10 hours on warm, low, or high.  Once it’s done it will switch itself over to warm automatically which my other pot doesn’t do so believe me when I tell you it is incredibly helpful.  Sometimes I remember to use a liner so that I don’t have to clean the pot itself, but I did not this time around.  It goes in the dishwasher though, so how much work did I really do?
In terms of preparing the chicken you will need, at least, salt and pepper.  Yeah, that’s it.  I, however, like a little bit more of a flavor profile so I have upped the ante to s&p, soy sauce, and garlic powder.

Basically, this recipe is 3 main steps:
1.  Defrost the chicken, remove giblets, and place in crock pot
2. Cover the chicken in salt and pepper
3. Cook on high for 4 hours
I’m gonna give you a little bit more detail, cause I love ya.  I cover the chicken in some soy sauce first, even if I don’t plan on using it in an Asian style meal.  I think it adds a nice salty flavor that’s deeper than plain old salt.

I do use salt on top of that and pepper and garlic powder.  I try to use equal parts of them all and I use my hands to cover the entire chicken.  Yes, I use my bare hands on naked raw chicken.  I’m not saying it’s not gross, because it is, but your hands are your best tools in the kitchen.  Except when you’re using the stove…obviously.
Your chicken should be entirely covered in seasoning, and if you can get some soy sauce inside of the chicken, I would.  As everyone’s chicken is going to be a different size I cannot give you exact ingredient measurements.  I’ve also never in my life measured salt outside of the auspices of baking, so I can’t help you with pre-measuring any of it.
Once your chicken is gorgeously covered in basic seasonings you can put the lid on the crock pot and set it on high for four hours.  And then walk away from it.  Clean your house, take a nap, go on a shopping spree, protest against something, I don’t care.  The best thing about this is you can walk away and live your life and still have food to come home to at the end of the day.  And in my opinion, having cooked food ready for me in my home at the end of the day is better than having a man at home waiting for me who did nothing I asked him to do.  Don’t mind me being a shrew, nobody else seems to.
Isn’t she a beauty?  Once the cooking time is done I use some tools to take the chicken out of the crock pot and allow it to rest for about 20 minutes.  I usually shred the meat with my hands and it takes at least this long for it to cool down.  First, I pull off as much skin as possible.  The skin has added to the juiciness of the chicken during cooking, but I don’t want the fat in my final food.  Second, I try to pull out the leg and wing bones.  I wish I had on video how easily these bones slid out of the meat.  It’s that tender!  Third, I really go to town on it.  I shred all of the meat, being sure to pull out any bones, cartilige, or grissel and save the good meat for any meals I plan to make.  This time around, I used most of the meat to make my version of Egg Roll in a Bowl.  I saved one breast (about 8oz) for salads and beefing up my ramen (one day I’ll show you how I do that too).  Other recipes I’ve used this chicken for include: chicken chili, chicken noodle soup, buffalo chicken dip, chicken salad, and chicken alfredo.
You may have noticed that I added no liquid to the crock pot other than the soy sauce.  Most people are pretty surprised to find out you don’t need any broth or stock or water.  But without any of that added in I still had this when the chicken was done:
I get a nice little bowl of chicken juices.  This is not broth or stock as it’s too concentrated, but I have used it as the base of multiple soups with water added.  That will have to be another recipe post.  Suffice it to say, what’s left in the bottom of the crock pot should not be thrown out with the skin and bones.  Waste not, want not.
According to my aunt, this whole thing can also be done with a turkey if you can find one that fits in the crock pot.  That will be another project to work on during this brutal Midwestern winter.
I hope this is helpful to those of you out there looking to make cooking easier for yourselves.  I, myself, love to cook, but I have come to understand that it is not for everyone.  Even if it’s not your favorite thing to do I fully believe that cooking for yourself from scratch is one of the best things you can do for your health.  So, even if you hate cooking, make this chicken and then make a sandwich and feel superior to those people buying deli meat.
Happy Cooking ✌

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