Do you believe in the dinner fairy?
Gorgeous meals do not magically appear on my dinner table every night. I’m still waiting to meet her, just so you know. By the time 5 o’clock rolls around I’m dragging. I’m hungry. On a good day dinner is thoughtfully planned out and ready to go. Other days, I wish for her to swoop down and wave her magic wand (clean my dishes) and bring me wine.
That’s why I batch cook.
For this method, I use my slow cooker to braise 3+ pounds of bone-in, skinless chicken thighs.
The bone keeps the meat juicy and adds flavor to the broth. The meat is simmered with just enough water to cover and plenty of aromatics; carrots, onion and rosemary. Celery and bay leaves would be nice too.
Braise the chicken in your slow cooker for about 4 hours on high heat or 8 hours on low. If you choose high heat, after 3 hours you can easily cut the chicken into chunks. The 4 hour mark is perfect for shredding. The meat is so tender you can do this with your fingers (but don’t- it’s really hot).
When the chicken has cooled completely, freeze and label whatever you’re not using.
And here’s the best part-
Not only do you get juicy, tender chicken to use at your convenience you also get homemade stock.
This is liquid gold.
Remove the chicken from the pot and strain the braising liquid using a cheesecloth or sturdy paper towel. You do own a cheesecloth, right? ;) A fat separator would work too. Then pour it into a container. When the stock has cooled down, refrigerate overnight. Any residual fat will rise to the top and harden. Skim this off with a spoon. Voilá! You now have low-fat chicken stock.
Chicken stock will vary in color, so don’t be alarmed if yours doesn’t look like mine. They also vary in texture. If yours is a bit wobbly (like jello) after it’s been refrigerated don’t freak out. This is a good thing. The technical term is ‘gelatinous’ and this happens when the stock has been reduced for a lengthy period of time. It adds wonderful viscosity and flavor to your stock. It will liquify once heated.
Store in small jars to use during the week and freeze the rest. Homemade stock tastes like no other.
Time is something you either have or you don’t.
That is the beauty of batch cooking. With a slow cooker your time is mostly hands off. You don’t have to babysit the stove and there aren’t a million ingredients to round-up. Think about all the money you’ll save too- no last minute take out orders to solve your dinner crisis and no overpriced chicken stock. Your freezer is stocked with homemade chicken ready to use whenever. Just defrost! I like it with soup, fajitas, risotto, and tomato sauce. But when I’m really lazy, I just eat the chicken out of the pot with salad.
Believe in the dinner fairy and good things will happen… Do you batch cook?