When it comes to planning my family’s meals I try to take the guess work out of it. This is how I tackle the task when I’m on top of things… I like to try to spend some time on Sunday thinking about who will be where and when. Is my hubby planning on traveling, working late, coaching an evening class. Then, what do the kids have going on…soccer, ballet, any other random late night activities? On nights when any of the above is happening I need something fast and easy. I prefer to make stuff in advance and freeze it so I can just pop it in the oven. In a pinch, I’ll pick up a “take n bake” pizza or just make chicken quesadillas at home. Once I know how many meals I need to prepare for the week I strategize my menu based on those needs.
Anyway, in case you live under a rock, you know that it’s Crocktober…right?? In honor of that and of not wanting to have to do a lot of work at mealtime, I have devised a plan. It’s shredded chicken. I know, I know, “That’s not very groundbreaking lady!”. But hear me out! Here’s the dish, (pun absolutely intended) cook up a whole lot of chicken in the crockpot on Sunday and use it for various recipes throughout the week. See, it’s kinda genius…right?
- 5 pounds of bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (Please use whatever cut of chicken works best for you and your family. We’re thigh lovers over here! Breasts would work just fine too. However, I would still use the bone-in, skin-on variety because we are making a broth and the skin and bones really lend a ton of flavor and body to the broth.)
- A handful of carrots and celery
- one onion
- a bulb of garlic
- a bundle of thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 cups of chicken stock (mine was homemade – from me trying this recipe the week before, but store-bought or powdered would be just fine too.)
- 2 cups of water
When you chop these ingredients, don’t worry about being perfect. These aromatics are just there for flavor. You will be straining everything at the end. But to save yourself time with your thyme (LOL) a cheesecloth bundle would work best. What’s that you say??? You don’t have that? Neither did I. But if I was waaaay cooler I totally would have.
Then top with the mirepoix. That’s a super fancy french word that means celery, onions, and carrots. Try to use it in a sentence today…see? You fancy, huh!? Then the herbs. I used my same scissors technique as I did in this recipe here. Then add the rest of the chicken and sprinkle with more salt and pepper. I had some onion I forgot to put in before so I put it on top. The add the water and the chicken stock.
Put the lid on and let her go. This is what it looked like after two hours. Yum! The chicken is already looking super tender!
Done! Next take the chicken pieces out and separate the bones and the skin from the chicken. Put the bones and skin back into the slow-cooker. Let that simmer for about two more hours with the lid on.
Shredded that chicken with two forks.
When that’s done use a spoon to skim the layer of fat off the top.
Next, use a “china cap” or any fine sieve to strain the liquid and separate the solids. Toss the solids and…congrats! You just made your very own chicken stock. Taste it…do you love it? Store this in some tupperware or mason jars and you can freeze them.
Have a great day mamas!