Happy Chickens Make Happy...Roast Chickens? (& also Happy Stock)

Chicken, I know! Put the sign of the cross in front of your computer screen and shield your eyes. I promised you I would take a break from all of this darn chicken, and after just one entry I have come back to you, bearing one of the most basic, plainest, boring-est ways to cook a chicken ever (or so you would think). But you see, it's because I had no choice. I'm not coming back to you shamefacedly. I'm coming back to you beaming from ear to ear.

Yesterday, I conquered the chicken.

You see, I'm one of those ignorance-is-bliss type of people when it comes to my meat. It's not like if I were to confront where my food comes from I would vow off meat - I know where it comes from, and I try my best to choose humane companies to buy from. It's really just that holding a hole, beheaded, naked chicken in my hands...kind of creeps me out. I blame it on Ren & Stimpy when I was a kid. There was this episode with a possessed chicken, like a dead and feathered one to eat, not a real one. Things like that can scar a kid.

But I did it. I held that chicken in my hands and I washed it, and peeked inside of it. The gracious folks at Nature's Promise didn't include the yummy pack of giblets that I was all but dreading handling, so it was a few snips of unwanted fat, a little shove of an union up its rear, and into the crock pot it went. Yes, I said crock pot. This is also what I'm so excited about - chicken in a crockpot! It's so easy! It's so genius! You cannot possibly fail at this, and when you're done, you get the best tasting stock ever. Period.

So, yes, I come to you with another chicken recipe, but I do not apologize. You will, in time, come to forgive me. Or maybe you won't, because the fact that I cooked an entire chicken for little ole me means that my freezer is chalk full of leftovers waiting to be used in future dishes. Alas, there may be a lot of chicken in our futures, but I will add something else to mix things up occasionally.

Back to this chicken.

Whole Chicken in a Crock Pot (aka the Easiest Roast Chicken You Will Ever Make), courtesy of (and only slightly modified from) The Happy Housewife
Yield: 1 whole chicken + lots of stock
The Ingredients - The Roast Chicken
1 Chicken (mine weighed 3.7lb)
Nonstick Substance to coat crock pot (I used olive oil because that's all I have)
Your Favorite Spices (I stuck 1/4 onion + 1Tbsp. minced garlic up its rear and then sprinkled the top of it with about 2-3tsp (close to 1Tbsp) rosemary and a few more pinches of garlic)

The Ingredients - The Stock
Chicken Bones
Liquid from roasting chicken
Teensy bit of an acid (most people use vinegar, but I didn't have any so I added a squirt of lemon juice)
The onion from the chicken's rear

The Method
1. Clean out your chicken. Remove any giblets or fat desired. My mom informed me of two little fat pockets by the tail that can be easily snipped off. I didn't really do anything aside from that.
2. Place anything inside of the chicken that you desire. Note that this should be edible and be able to withstand 7 hours of cooking time.
3. Place the chicken in the greased up crock pot, and add any other seasonings you so choose. Because I removed the skin in the end, I would have been better off stuffing my herbs under the skin, but c'est la vie. I also should have added fresh ground black pepper - I don't know why I didn't think of that.
4. Turn your crock pot on low and go have fun for 7 hours. Return to a house that smells like Boston Market, as The Happy Housewife so perfectly put it.
5. When the chicken is done, transfer it (somehow) to a cutting board to rest and cool for handling. I don't know about anyone else, but my chicken just about fell to pieces when I looked at it, much less tried to transfer it. See, my plan was to leave the thighs and whatnot in tact, and only shred some of the chicken. All of that chicken got shredded, because that's how it came out of the crockpot. In pieces.
6. When it's cool enough to handle, remove it from the bone and dump the bones back into the crockpot for awesome stock.
7. Add anything else you want to the stock liquid - I put the onion back in, and added the acid to help draw the calcium out of the bones. There were also some chicken bits left in there (meat, not gross stuff, mind you) that I figured would either disintegrate from the cooking or strain out with the bones at the end. This was not an entirely accurate assumption, but more on that later.
8. Cook on low overnight. I was paranoid about what this lax time frame meant, and set my alarm early this morning in case overnight meant something different from between the time I finished dinner and the time I woke up, and all was well. I woke up to an incredibly rich stock that was full of flavor and made my kitchen smell like chicken noodle soup.
9. Strain out all of the bones and miscellaneous debris, and let it come to room temperature. I still have some chicken bits in there. My strainer's holes were not appropriately sized and I was not appropriately patient. I decided it was far from the end of the world, by anyone's standards.
10. Refrigerate for a little bit to allow the fat to rise up to the top.
11. Skim the fat off, portion out into storage containers, and freeze for up to 6 months!

And voila, 1 roasted chicken and a whole ton of stock, just in time for soup making season! I'll be using some of mine this upcoming week for my first soup ever (yes, it has chicken in it). But really, aside from taking a near day to complete, all of it's inactive. Once you clean the bird, you're essentially home free. And talk about tender! I have never had a chicken, I don't think, that does not require a knife to eat. Mind you, I used one anyway, but L would have been ecstatic to learn that something other than brisket can be eaten this way (this is not a dig at him, I promise). This chicken is nothing short of succulent. Perhaps not the most flavor packed meal, which is probably more my fault that anything else because I took the skin off, which had all of the herbs, but man! This is down home cooking. This is what home-cooked meals are all about.

And to pay tribute to my childhood, my meat-and-insert-your-favorite-starch-here, I absolutely inserted-my-favorite(ish)-starch-there and paired the roasted chicken with some roasted sweet potato and onions. I'll include that "recipe" too, just because I don't have a separate picture of it and it's really too simple of a recipe to warrant its own post. Sorry, sweet potato. I also microwaved some frozen broccoli, but if you have fresh broccoli (or cauliflower, or any other veggie), go right ahead and roast that with the potatoes and onion. The texture will be much, much better that way.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Onions (and Broccoli, too!)
Yield: 1 pretty large serving
The Ingredients
1 medium sized sweet potato
Some onion slivers/chunks (maybe 1/8 normal sized onion, but really, whatever you prefer)
Oil to coat (I used olive oil because this is all I keep on hand, but it has a low smoke point and you're roasting these guys on 400 degrees. Another oil would be better)
Seasonings of choice (I used garlic powder, black pepper, and more rosemary to tie it in with the chicken)

The Method
1. Grease a baking sheet and preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
2. Chunk the sweet potato and onion.
3. Coat with oil and seasonings, and bake in oven for approximately 20 minutes. Halfway through you might want to shake them around a bit.

It was such a great complement to the chicken. I love the flavor of sweet potatoes, and roasted vegetables are always wonderful.

And so, there you have it! My Chicken-and-starch (and veggie to keep me happy) meal that, no matter how much I poke fun at my family for, never lets me down.

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