Tuesday, May 7, 2013
That whole chicken in your freezer
Truth be known, I really despise whole chickens.
But, whenever I see them on sale, for some reason I feel compelled to stock up.
And sometimes, if I am at Costco and need chicken, I'll buy the whole organic ones in the 2-pack. I come home and usually throw them in the freezer out in the garage. Then as I open the close the freezer door to reach for fish or other meat every so often, I SEE THEM. I begin to resent them for hogging my freezer space. I know I should use them. Then I think of the 2-3 day thaw time they need. I think of the unpleasantness of reaching inside to get their innards out. I think of the chicken juice that gets all over the sink. And I really don't enjoy cutting them up into pieces (plus I'm really, really bad at it). Honestly, I just never really feel in the mood to deal with them. So they sit.
Then our weather turned cold this week, and I thought of cooking one in my crock pot. I don't know why this genius method isn't employed more often in my kitchen. It is SO easy, it's ridiculous. I just put the whole chicken in the crock pot with about a half a box of chicken broth, a can of diced tomatoes in juice, and some homemade taco seasoning (recipe to follow). If you want, you can cut the chicken in half, but it's not necessary. I turn the crock pot on low for 5-6 hours, then strain the chicken (and loose bones) and tomatoes out, returning the juice to the crock pot. I shred the fall-off-the-bone tender chicken and return it to the juice in the pot. Voila! Chicken meat for soft tacos, quesadillas, taco salad, enchiladas, tostadas... you name it! It is so moist and delicious. And, I might mention the house smells terrific all day as it cooks, which is so lovely on an overcast day. I'm going to start putting it in my rotation (we usually have a Mexican night once a week). Of course you could use any chicken pieces as well. I think bone-in chicken cooks up the most tender, and the mix of dark and light meat is perfectly flavorful.
I don't buy seasoning "mixes." If you keep a well-stocked spice cabinet, you should have everything at your fingertips to make your own mixes, everything from taco seasoning, to chili seasoning, to barbecue seasoning. Recipes are widely available online for virtually every mix needed. And, as a bonus, your "mix" won't have all that weird stuff in it that you can't pronounce.
Recently I saw this at the store, and it truly made me laugh.
I don't mean to insult anyone, but is this not the dumbest thing EVER? Have we stooped to this level of convenience (actually this package seems terribly inconvenient if you ask me)? I mean seriously, people cannot put spices together for a recipe on their own? I don't remember the cost of these, but most of it has to be wrapped up in the packaging! Oh, but they are "inspiring" so maybe you are paying for that. :-)
Anyways, here's the recipe I used for the seasoning. I made this in full but only used half for one chicken. You could double or triple this so it's ready when you need it!
Homemade Chicken Taco Seasoning
3 Tbsp chili powder
1 1/2 Tbsp cumin
1 tsp onion powder
3/4 tsp garlic powder
3/4 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp paprika
2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp black pepper
Mix altogether in a jar and shake. Use half for one chicken.