Roasted chicken is easy to make and can be used throughout the week, or freeze some of it and use it later.
I roast chickens either in my crockpot or, when I have 3 or 4 chickens to cook, in the big roaster. I sit the roaster out on the deck and cook the chickens out there in the summer to keep the kitchen cooler and to open up counter space.
I have started looking around and paying more for free range, no-hormone chickens. Every now and then some are available about 20 miles from me so I buy them and freeze them. The meat tastes better and of course its healthier. I could probably go to a nearby big city and buy free range chickens, frozen, any time I wanted to…. but they are $10 a piece and I am not ready to pay that for a chicken.
Go ahead and preheat your cooker to LOW or the roaster to 300*.
You don’t have to season your chickens with anything before you roast them. In fact, if you are going to season the meat up in different recipes, you probably don’t want to season them as they cook. And I have found that stock made from the juices of a spicy chicken can be very strong tasting and not to many people’s taste.
When I do season them here is how I do it; just cut a lemon in half and a small onion in half. Place half a lemon and the two pieces of onion inside the chicken. Next, squeeze the other lemon half over the chicken and sprinkle the chicken with just a pinch of coarse salt.
If you are roasting just one chicken in order to have roasted chicken for a meal, its nice to season it this way: Run your fingers gently between the breast portion of the chicken and the skin, loosening the skin from the muscle. Then place pats of butter under the skin before sprinkling it with Italian seasoning herbs.
Place the rinsed chicken in the roaster or crockpot. Add your herbs, salt and other seasonings.
Cover the roaster or crockpot. Cook for 4-6 hours on low, or at 300* F on the roaster, depending on how many chickens you are cooking. When the meat falls off the bones it is ready.
Cool the meat so that you can handle it easily. I usually let it sit at room temperature to cool. Then pull the meat off the bones. I freeze the meat except for a portion that I will use for supper that night. I keep the skin with the meat because in some dishes the skin is desirable.
The meat can be used in any recipe calling for cooked chicken; chicken salad, tacos, casseroles or whatever.
Now make stock …..
Put all the bones back in the cooking liquid and add a tablespoon of vinegar. I learned that vinegar tip from my friend Wardee. It helps to pull the minerals out of the bones so that they are in the stock. Add a carrot, a stalk of celery, an onion that you’ve peeled and some peppercorns. If you don’t have peppercorns just leave them out and don’t sweat it.
Let the bones and liquid cook for another 3-4 hours on low. Strain out the bones and vegetables.Allow the liquid to cool. A layer of fat will form on the top of the liquid. Break or spoon off as much of the fat as you want to get rid of. Leave some of it though because its good tasting in the stock and its good for you!
Fill freezer jars just 3/4 full. Allow the stock to cool completely. A gel will form on top of the liquid. That gel is protein and mineral rich. When the liquid is completely cooled, put a lid on the jars and freeze them. Specially made plastic freezer jars are available. Except that I prefer to use glass … that’s just me. And you do need to be very careful with the glass jars, not to let them bump together or against other things in the freezer.
Every time you cook chicken in the crockpot or roaster you can make this delicious stock so that you will have it when you need it.
I always eat the vegetables that cook in the stock for lunch or supper!