One of my most complimented meals is also one of the easiest to make. And actually, it’s two, or even three, meals. I start with a whole chicken that I cook in a crock pot. Cook time is variable depending on the size of the chicken. If you use something small like a Cornish hen, it takes less time to cook. If you use something larger such as a turkey, then obviously, it will take longer.
For a regular sized whole chicken, put it in your crock-pot on low and let it sit for about 7 hours. You don’t need to add anything, but sometimes I like to add a Swanson’s flavor boost pack or a small amount of chicken broth. If you want to spice it with salt and pepper, or garlic, or whatever you favorite spice is, give it a shot.
Once the chicken is finished cooking, and delicious, there are several things you can do with it. I always keep the legs and thighs to the side and try really hard not to munch on them. You’ll also want to leave the left over stock in the crock pot, but make sure you get out any tiny bones that might’ve fallen in while cooking. Sometimes I eat the breasts and sometimes I turn them into a great homemade chicken salad. When you are separating the pieces, make sure you keep the large bones and the bits of fat and skin that fall off. They’ll add extra flavor to the homemade chicken stew.
For the chicken stew, my recipe isn’t really a science. It calls for faith, imagination, and trust in your palette.
You can use the bones or not, but if you do, add them back to the stock. Then, add a couple of cans of cream of chicken and cream of mushroom to the left over stock/drippings from the chicken in the crock-pot. Use as much as you want. If you have a large crowd, use a lot and add more chicken stock.
I also add a combination of vegetables from the freezer like Lima beans or green beans, canned vegetables such as corn, and fresh vegetables like okra or zucchini.
If you are using frozen vegetables, add them first, so they’ll have a little more time to thaw out. Fresh and canned vegetables can go in about 15-20 minutes later depending on what temp you are using. I normally go with high on the crock-pot, unless I am just super relaxed and have time to kill. While you’re waiting for those to thaw in your stew base, pull the chicken, fat and skin off the bones. I like to cut up the skins into tiny little pieces. Set the meat to the side.
If you decide to use pearl onions or something of the like, maybe potatoes even, you’re going to want to either cook those with the chicken or cook them in the stock until they are done before adding the other ingredients. I also recommend sauteing them first and then adding them if you just don’t have time to wait for them to get soft. They take forever, and uncooked onions can ruin the entire dish.
After you add your fresh or canned vegetables, wait for about 10-15 minutes, again, depending on how high of a temperature you are using. Once you see the vegetable are cooked, add the chicken. Let a little time pass to get the chicken warmed up again, and then you can enjoy!
The great thing about this recipe is it is easy to make. You can add the ingredients you want, and you would really have to try hard to screw it up. It a great comfort food for winter, or in case you are like me, for whenever you’re feeling down and need a little “foodie pick-me-up”. AND, it’s cheap. You can get a chicken from around $3 to $10 bucks depending on where you are shopping, frozen vegetables are hella cheap, and we should all have a crock-pot.