December 12, 2014 by Katie
Lets be real, the crock-pot is a life saver. It cooks huge meals while you work and provides generous portions of leftovers for the week! Every week I cook a whole pastured chicken in the crock-pot, store the meat in the fridge for use in other meals, and use the carcass from the same bird to make broth. It makes me feel good knowing that I use the whole bird and leave little to waste!
I buy pasture raised birds because I believe in supporting businesses that care about the welfare of their animals and the environment. Plus, these birds have higher nutrient levels. If you are what you eat, then pasture raised birds make a lot of sense. I’d rather have my tissues built with nutrient dense, healthy animals, instead of factory farmed, GMO ladened, antibiotic fed, sick, caged birds. Not only is it healthier for us to consume higher quality ingredients, but also it’s better for our environment. Thankfully, there are farmers out there producing high quality pasture raised meat. But it is up to us, the consumers, to seek them out. This is how we vote with our dollar.
Depending on your producer and how they process their chickens, pasture raised birds will taste differently from one another. You can taste what they ate in subtle ways and you can tell they exercised by the texture of their muscles. In other words, pasture raised chickens might taste a little bit “tougher” than your typical grain and soy fed chicken. This isn’t a bad thing, however, you just have to find the right cooking method.
When it comes to cooking a whole chicken, there are two common techniques. The first is to bake the chicken. Some recommend baking a pasture raised chicken long and slow, while others like the Clueless Farmer recommend baking on high for about 15-25 minutes (to sear in the juices), and then lowering the temperature to finish the cooking process.
The second method is to use a crock-pot. I’ve tried the long method (6 hours on low heat) and the shorter method (cooking it on high for 4 hours). In my experience, cooking the chicken on high heat in the crock-pot for 4 hours gave me the most tender, fall-off-the-bone meat and that’s what I recommend below. And, although I’ve baked countless chickens in the oven, pasture raised chickens have always turned out dry and tough for me. Another reason I prefer cooking them in the crock pot with butter and basic seasonings. It yields a tender, simple chicken that is great to use as a base for many recipes.
Below you will find my super easy recipe for crock-pot chicken, how to make broth with the meatless carcass, and a chicken soup recipe that will battle any cold this season!
-Crock Pot Whole Chicken Recipe-
1 pasture raised chicken, 3.5-6 lbs
1 onion, chopped
3 tbsps of ghee
Salt and Pepper to taste
1. Prepare bird. Wash and generously coat with salt and pepper.
2. Place the chopped onion and 2 tbsps of ghee on the bottom of the crock-pot.
3. Put the remaining 1 tbsp of ghee inside the bird.
4. Set the bird, breast side down on top of the onions and ghee.
5. Close the lid on your crock-pot and cook on high for 4 hours.
6. Once the bird is finished cooking, shut off your crock-pot and allow the bird to cool for handling.
7. Pull the meat off the bones and store in the refrigerator for later use!
8. Now, you’re left with the carcass, cooked onions, and some broth at the bottom of the crock-pot. The carcass and broth will be added back to the crock-pot for broth, but you will need to strain and discard the onions. See the next recipe to finish making broth!
-Crock-Pot Broth Recipe-
1 pasture raised chicken carcass, meat removed
1 onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1-2 bay leaves
1-2 sprigs of rosemary
1-2 sprigs of thyme
2 tbsps apple cider vinegar
1. Place all the chopped veggies and herbs into the crock pot.
2. Place chicken carcass on top of vegetable mixture and pour the 2 tbsps of apple cider vinegar over the bones. The vinegar helps pull the minerals out of the bones.
3. Pour the leftover broth mixture into the crock pot.
4. Cover the carcass, vegetables, and herbs with filtered water.
5. Close the lid on your crock and cook on low for 12-24 hours. The longer you cook your broth, the better. It will be richer in color, taste, and will yield a more gelatinous broth.
6. Once your broth has finished cooking and cools down, strain it and package it up. I put mine in large glass jars and store them in the fridge because we go through it so fast! Broth will stay good in the fridge for 5 days or check out this post to see how you can store your chicken broth in the fridge for 6 months! Also, you can freeze your broth. I recommend freezing them in silicone molds, then placing them in plastic bags for easy access. The frozen pucks should last about 6 months in the freezer.
And there you have it. Now you know how to cook a whole chicken in the crock-pot and use its carcass to make broth! If you’re looking for recipe ideas, keep reading because I share my chicken soup recipe below. And if chicken soup isn’t your thing, I suggest using your leftover chicken for salads, Paleo pot pies, tacos, casseroles, loaded potatoes, tortilla soup, sandwiches, congee, stir-fry, and more.
-Chicken Soup Recipe-
2 cups of cooked chicken, cut into bite sizes pieces
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
5-8 red potatoes, chopped
2 bay leaves
1 tsp fresh thyme
1 tsp dried thyme
1 very full tbsp of ghee
8 cups of chicken broth
1. Melt ghee in a large soup pot over medium heat.
2. Add garlic and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds to 1 minute.
3. Add the onions, celery, carrots, potatoes and sprinkle on some salt.
4. Saute the veggies and potatoes for about 5-10 mins.
5. Add the herbs and broth. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat to low and simmer until the potatoes and vegetables are soft.
6. Once the vegetables and potatoes are soft, add the chicken and cook until heated through, about 5 minutes.
7. Serve over a bowl of rice or eat as is! I like it over a bowl of rice instead of noodles, but that’s just my preference. Enjoy!
If you know of any online shops or local farmers raising pastured chickens please share below! I just stocked up on some from Tendergrass Farms and I’m excited to try them out!