This is a game changer! Braising a whole chicken saves me a lot of time and money. In fact, it's a very important component of eating healthy in a economical way, that also doesn't take a lot of time. Braising meat essentially means cooking it in a liquid. I cook a whole chicken and make broth all in one easy shebang! Cooked meat and essentially free broth, to use in my meal preparations, what's not to love about that?! It makes healthy meal preparation a snap. I use the chicken and meat broth in soups, stews, sauces, curries and other dishes.
When I eat meat in a more whole and sustainable way, it benefits me, the planet and my pocketbook. For example, rather than eating a whole roasted chicken at 1 meal, which my family can easily do, I divide the meat up into portions and I get 4-5 meals, for 5 people, from 1 whole chicken and broth as opposed to one meal. For instance, I can make a curry using 1 cup of meat and some broth, a vegetable stir fry using another cup of meat and some broth, some Thai Chicken lettuce wraps with the remaining meat, a lentil soup using the broth, as well as, a potato soup using the broth. It may be important to note, that the broth to make all these meals is not just the braised chicken broth, but also bone broth that's made with the carcass from the chicken. So, although I use a high quality organic chicken for my broth, I get a lot of bang for my buck out of it. Five high quality meals for five people using the meat and broth from one chicken! That's a good example of how eating healthy with high quality ingredients doesn't need to break the bank.
Braised Whole Chicken and Broth
1 whole, organic chicken
1 quart of warm water for every two pounds of chicken
1 1/2 tsp. raw, organic apple cider vinegar, per quart of water
1/4 onion, per quart of water
2 cloves garlic, per quart of water
1/2 tsp. good quality salt, per quart of water, optional
1. Remove neck and giblets, if included, from the inside of the chicken. Place this in the freezer to use in bone broth. You can store the neck and giblets in the fridge, but be aware that they go bad very quickly. I find it best to store the neck and giblets in the freezer, just in case you don't get to your bone broth right away.
2. Place the whole chicken in a slow cooker.
3. Add the appropriate amount of water, onion, garlic, salt and herbs, if using.
4. Cook on low for 4-5 hours, or until done (when you cut into the breast, the juices will run clear instead of pink.) . I see many people cook chicken for 8 hours on low in the crock pot. This results in overcooked meat.
5. Remove the chicken and cover it with a kitchen towel. Cool for 45 minutes - 1 hour. The meat will be much easier to remove when it's still warm.
6. Drain the meat broth through a fine mesh strainer.
7. Remove the meat from the carcass and reserve it in the fridge, or freezer for other meals.
8. Reserve the bones, skin, scraps etc. in the fridge for up to a week, or freezer for several months. These bones and scraps can be used to make bone broth
9. Cool the broth and store it in the fridge. It's important that you cool broth in a reasonable amount of time, to keep it food safe. Either divide the broth into individual jars, or containers to cool faster on the counter, or cool the whole amount of broth in a sink of ice water. Take care that the container the broth is in can take temperature change without breaking. For instance, a glass bowl or a slow cooker insert can break or shatter when exposed to extreme temperature change. A stainless steel pan is a better option. Additionally, a container of hot broth placed in the fridge will drop the temperature of the fridge, putting all the food, as well as the broth, at risk as far as food safety goes.
10. When chilled, the fat will rise to the top and solidify on top of the broth. Congratulations, you have essentially rendered poultry fat. Scrape off this fat and reserve it in the fridge or freezer. This is a good healthy fat, that can be used in other food preparations. This free healthy fat is another way that making broth can lower your grocery bill.
If desired, you can season your chicken with 3 tablespoons of RealTaste Nurture seasoning, or seasoning of your choice. I generally keep my chicken and broth unsalted and unseasoned, so I have the flexibility to flavor it as I like in different dishes; however, chicken and broth seasoned with Nurture seasoning is definitely a favorite.
For a single serving mug of broth, season warm unsalted broth with 1 tsp. RealTaste Seasoning per cup of broth, or the seasoning of your choice. Let it steep for several minutes and strain the broth through a fine mesh strainer to remove the herbs and seasoning solids, or go ahead and drink it without straining, if you don't mind the texture. Enjoy in place of coffee or tea. Broth is especially helpful to drink before a meal as a digestive aid, especially a meal that contains meat. It's also beneficial to drink before bedtime, if you're having problems with the quality of your sleep. Microwaving broth is not recommended, but a single serving of broth heats up in a extra small pot in just a minute or so.
The amount of vinegar, per quart of water is according to my taste preference. Feel free to adjust to the acidity level you prefer. There is no right, or wrong here. You can also leave it out if you like, but I think it adds a nice balance of flavor to the meat broth.
I don't use carrots or celery when making broth; it's just not necessary. I'd rather save my carrots and celery to chop up and actually eat in a soup, stew or other dishes. I do; however, save the peelings off my carrots, celery end and leaves for vegetable scrap broth.
There are bone broth products on the market, with varying degrees of quality, but when you're trying to eat healthy in an affordable way, this will kill your budget! It also hurts my soul to see packaged items. I can't help but imagine the landfills and damage the waste and production of such containers has on our planet and in return on our own health. A healthy planet = a healthy you. Moreover, I think home produced foods trump anything you can buy at the store both in quality and flavor.
If you're going to the trouble to make chicken and broth, you might as well make the best quality you can. I highly recommend using the best quality, organic chicken that you can find. Why make a herbicide, pesticide, anti-biotic and hormone laden bird? And yes, even though your poultry is not a plant, it will still be contaminated with herbicides, pesticides and other chemicals. Pastured, organic birds are always your best bet.