It is always nice to have food ready to go in the freezer. It usually takes work to get it there, but it is always worth it when you’ve got nothing else to make and can pull it out for a quick fix.
I do this by buying 3 whole, fresh chickens. I’d like to think they are farm fresh, but the reality is they are probably not. At least they are fresh. So fresh that they are still clucking when I pick them out and then he kills, drips and feathers it for me. This isn’t really my thing though, so I point from a distance and then leave and come back when my chickens are ready. I don’t need to hear them squawk.
If you are from around here, you probably know these places. I hope you have found your nearest one to you and have bought a few birds from him. They sure beat the packaged meat from Brazil =/
If you are somewhere else, find a nearby farm and get some truly nutritious chickens that have been playing outside and eating bugs. Then use the WHOLE thing and don’t waste a drop!
This time he cut up the birds for me, which saves me from having to do it. Score! Here’s my bag of 3 chickens worth of pieces…
Don’t forget to ask for EVERYTHING… feet and innards are great for broth. But watch out for the head. Actually, the head is great for broth too, but it really grosses me out so I ask him to keep it. (Broth recipe coming soon. If you aren’t making this, start now!)
Also, I usually pull out the wings and legs for another meal, I like to put them in a big zipper bag with some marinade to roast and eat later. It would be fine to cook them with the rest of the pieces though.
Next, roast the chickens. All at once (saves time =) You could use a big roasting pan, stoneware, or whatever works for you. I like to do it in roasting bags. I know I could probably do some research and find out why these are terrible for you, but they are so convenient, make cleanup easier and keep the chicken so juicy that I choose not to do that research. It’s up to you.
So I fill my roasting bags up with chicken backs, breasts and thighs and add some onions and garlic. Lemon is great too if you have it. Or add your favorite herbs and spices.
It will take a while to cook all this meat. Do it somewhere around 375′ and it will probably take 2-3 hours, depending on your oven. I check on it after an 2 hours and then every 30 minutes or so. The longer it goes the easier it will be to pull off the bone, but you risk drying it out, so be careful.
You can measure doneness with a meat thermometer (just poke it right through the bag, they usually pop a hole in the middle of cooking anyway). Chicken should get up to 180′ on the inside. When they are done, pull them out and let them cool. Be patient, it is better than burning your hands on hot chicken.
Once it has cooled down, I dump the chicken pieces and juice out onto the tray and shred it with my hands. I like to let the chicken sit in the juice for a bit and soak some of it up – makes it so tasty for later!
Don’t throw out that juice though (this is rich meat stock and it is great to cook with!) Add it to a pot of beans, stir fried veggies, any other chicken dish. Use the fat to fry tortillas or eggs. It’s good stuff!
Than I take all the shredded chicken and put it in zipper baggies and into the freezer for that day I need something quick. I usually get about 4 bags/meals out of the shredded chicken. Only two bags here because I used the rest in a giant enchilada casserole that night =)