This post is for one of the bravest people I know, my little sister. Although she probably wouldn't characterize herself as brave (after all, she doesn't like rock climbing or heights!), she certainly goes out of her comfort zone. She's been in more countries than I have and regularly tries things that scare her silly -- like zip lines in Costa Rica. Fresh out of college, Joanna decided to use her gift for teaching and her big heart to volunteer with AmeriCorps, in the heart of inner-city Buffalo. She is working at the King's Center and when not at school, she is reaching out to her neighbors. She lives in Buffalo with a group of Houghton alum, and these individuals gather together for shared meals frequently. Yesterday she bought a slew of chicken to make into White Chicken Chili (yum), and I told her that this might be a cheaper way to feed her friends. So this post is for her.
Start with a fryer chicken, which cost 89 cents a pound for me. If you want the chicken and broth to have a little more flavor, you'll also need an onion, some celery and a carrot.
I peel the skin from the onion but otherwise leave it whole. I don't peel the carrot, but I do lope off the top, and the leafy inside stalks of the celery are apparently great for soup.
Next, fill a large pot about 2/3s of the way. Rinse off the chicken (I guess this is an optional step, but sometimes there is gross syrupy stuff that has been injected into the chicken and comes oozing out, so I do it), and make sure you dump out the stuff that they shove inside, like the heart and gizzards and a sheet of fatty yellow fat. (I forgot that once in Belfast!) I'm not sure if one should drop the innards into the pot with the chicken, but yesterday I did (but not the fatty piece). Then throughly wash your hands and bleach the sink.
Then toss in the carrot and celery and onion, and bring to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, set the time for an hour and fifteen minutes, and reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. As it starts to cook, you'll notice some yucky scum on the top of the pot. I use a spoon to skim it off and I did not take a picture of it. It was yucky, as I mentioned before.
It'll boil happily on your stove, and your apartment will start to smell like chicken noodle soup. Yum.
Once the timer goes off, take two big spoons and wrestle the chicken onto a plate. You'll have to let it cool there for about an hour. Otherwise your hands will be really hurting as you try to shred the chicken. You could always use rubber gloves if you were in a big hurry, but I'd recommend waiting for awhile.
I shredded the meat, discarding the skin and throwing the bones back into the pot of broth. (I continued cooking the broth for several hours with the bones, onion, carrot, celery, and a half tsp of salt to make stock. I probably should have added more water, as I probably made a rather condensed stock, but I forgot. Oh well. Currently it is sitting in the fridge, waiting for me to skim off the fat that has risen to the top, and then it'll be ready to freeze or whatever.) As you can see, I got about 5 1/2 to 6 cups of chicken from a 5 pound chicken, plus at least 2 quarts of chicken stock.
Shredded chicken can be used for a whole variety of quick meals, freezes well, and can be defrosted very quickly. So... do it to it, sister! Love you lots. :)