If the idea of cooking a whole chicken scares you, start by reading: Whole Chickens – Why they are Better than Just the Breasts and hopefully you will be given some incentive to convert to this brave new world.
I love when things come together… so well that it is almost as if they were created to be that way. The more and more that we get into homesteading and traditional cooking, the more I see these occurrences. For example… when a cow leaves a mess on the ground and a mass of chickens come running over to “clean it up” – it makes you think… hum, it’s almost like they were created that way for a reason. When you make lots of cheese and have the byproduct of lots of whey, which just so happens to be a wonderful nutrient for pigs – – it makes you think… hum, it’s almost like they were created that way for a reason. I could go on and on, but for now, I’ll spare you – this is a post about cooking chicken.
So – we use two chickens to make the following:
- Chicken Tacos
- Chicken Tortillia Soup
- Coconut Chicken & Rice
- Chicken Stock + Leftovers
We want to be able to utilize the stock for the second two recipes, so the menu does best when you start with the Chicken Tacos for your first meal.
Defrost 2 whole chickens the night before. If you prefer to defrost your meat by leaving it in the refrigerator, you might want to do this a bit more in advance. I just throw my in a sink full of cold water and they are good to go in the morning.
Rinse chickens and place in a crock pot. The size of your chickens and the size of your crock pot will determine if you need one or two crock pots. Sometimes I am able to fit both birds into one crock pot, but sometimes the brids are a bit larger and it just doesn’t work. I don’t mind using two crock pots anyway since this gives me an opportunity to make more broth at a time.
The best way to cook a chicken in a crock pot is upside down – this keeps the breast nice and moist. Literally, I just throw them in there with nothing else. You may add seasoning if you would like, but I prefer to start from scratch in the season department with each of my meals and the broth, so I leave them plain.
I cook them on low or high based on what time they go in… earlier in the morning, I use low, later in the morning, I usually use high. By the time late afternoon rolls around, they are generally done. You can tell that they are done by pulling on one of the legs – if it falls off, they are perfect. If not, but you need to get moving on dinner – cut into the breast and make sure there is no pink remaining. The bird will be a little harder to pick apart, but perfectly good to eat.
Once done – remove the brids from the crock pot(s) and allow to cool till you are able to manage them comfortably with your hands.
Now start removing the meat – I make four piles:
- the brests go onto a plate that will be used for dinner tonight
- the skin and extra parts that do not look all that appetizing go into a bowl for the dogs
- the bones all go back into the crock pot to be used for stock
- the rest of the meat (legs, wings, thighs, backs, etc.) go into a glass container with a lid to be saved for later in the week
Once I’m done sorting, I cover the bones in the crock pot(s) with water and add a splash of ACV (apple cider vinegar). The ACV helps pull everything out of the bones in order to make your stock as nourishing as possible.
Now for dinner – I shred the chicken breasts and throw them in a pot or skillet and simply add taco seasoning (homemade recipe is below) and some water to help it all integrate well. Stir and heat till the water has all evaporated and/or integrated and your meat should be good to go.
We like to serve our tacos with slightly fried white corn tortillas and any of the following that we happen to have on hand:
- beans (pinto, black, refried, etc.)
- shredded cheese
- sour cream
Generally, with tacos, we will have extra meat left over since there are so many extras. Save the remaining seasoned chicken for Chicken Tortilla Soup tomorrow.
This 4 meal formula actually came about on accident. We had the extra meat left over from the chicken tacos (which I only made because I didn’t feel like putting together my originally planned meal after a hard day). We had been eating some version of tacos for the last 4 or 5 meals and I couldn’t do it again. But… I had leftover chicken with taco seasoning on it. Finally, a light bulb went off – Tortilla Soup! Something different, but still carrying the same flavors that my family loves.
So, for your second dinner, use the leftover seasoned chicken to make the Tortilla Soup recipe below. It is especially good with sour cream , raw onions, and avocados on top. You also have the homemade chicken broth ready to go in your crock pot!
Be sure to add water to your broth throughout the day if you noticing it getting low. Also add when you take out a majority of it to make your soup.
I hope that you are taking the opportunity to scoop up some of the delicious chicken broth you have simmering on your countertop and enjoy it here and there as a snack. I like to sprinkle a little bit of garlic salt in mine and then add an ice cube so that I can drink it up right away and not burn my tongue. You may also have some Tortilla Soup left over, which would make a perfect lunch for today.
Now for your last meal, you will need to get the rice going a little early to make sure it is done in time to add to your dish. Don’t forget to use the chicken broth to make your rice! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had chicken broth on hand that I plan to use to make my rice or beans and completely forget when it comes time to make it. I like to throw in a little butter or oil as well and season with salt.
After your rice has been cooking a bit, add your veggies to a skillet or pot. Once they are good and translucent, add your chicken that you set aside a couple days ago. If you did not shred this completely when you saved it, just throw it in the pot and break it apart with a spoon or spatula while it is cooking. As it heats up, it will come apart nicely.
Next, add your seasonings and coconut milk… then the nutritional yeast (optional) and rice.
Serve with a fresh salad and a sweet potato for a full course meal.
I hope you enjoy this menu medley and that it encourages you to come up with some of your own.
Source: Christy Comstock
Course: Main Course
- 1⁄2 cup chili powder
- 3 tablespoons cumin
- 2 tablespoons paprika
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1⁄2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1⁄4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
– You have 4 ingredients in your Pantry. –
- Measure all ingredients out into a mason jar and shake.
- If substituting in a recipe that calls for a packet of taco seasoning, use just under 1/2 of a cup.
Course: Main Course
- 4 whole chicken breasts shredded, whole, organic, pastured chicken
- 1 cup taco seasoning homemade
- white corn tortillas
- butter oil, or coconut oil
- Optional Add Ons
- romaine lettuce
- diced tomatoes
- chopped onions
- avocado slices
- sour cream
- cheese shredded
– You have 3 ingredients in your Pantry. –
- Cook chickens in one or two crock pot(s) by placing in pot upside down (breast down). No need to add any water or seasonings.
- Cook for approximately 6 hours or till meat is falling off the bones.
- Remove meat from birds – I like to use the breast meat for the tacos and then save the rest for another dish.
- Shred meat and place in a pot or skillet.
- Add taco seasoning and enough water to help the seasoning coat the meat and then evaporate completely.
- Stir consistently
- Lightly fry tortillas in oil, butter, or coconut oil till just crispy and still flexible enough to fold into a taco.
- Assemble tacos with your favorite toppings.