First off, this blog is not what you think. When you read the title, “Chicken Four (maybe five) Ways” you likely thought, great, I could use some new chicken recipes.
Uh, sort of. But not really.
This process starts with buying a crap load of chicken. Cheap. We get ours at the Grocery Outlet (and no, they are not paying me to endorse them). I always get bone-in cuts. Either thighs or legs, doesn’t matter. And I never spend more than $8 on a LOT of chicken.
Now the fun begins.
If I am not using the slow cooker for something else that day, I will load the chicken in there to poach. Just put the chicken in your slow cooker, add water to cover and turn on high Takes hours but if I am busy working, the slow cooker is a frugal cooks best friend and it does the job. I have also used my Dutch oven to poach the chicken when the slow cooker was otherwise occupied.
Once the chicken is poached, let it cool. When it’s cooled off enough to handle, remove it from the pot and fire the slow cooker or Dutch oven back up. That’s gold in that pot in the form of future stock (one). Add nothing. At this point, it’s virgin stock. I usually cool it off and freeze it at this point because I have a nice supply already. If I have sad veggies in the fridge, it goes directly to making soup. The reason I don’t season is because then I don’t have to remember what I put it in.
While the stock boils down by half, remove the chicken skin (2) and set aside. Shred the chicken (3), setting aside the bones (4). You will need to reference a blog called, “Them Old Bones” in order to learn the magic of bones.
Meanwhile, you have stock, chicken galore and are about to make magic with the chicken skin. The process is this: line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and heat the oven to 375-F. Bake the chicken skin until crispy. There will be some chicken fat to pour off (5?) and once cooled, you will have crispy chicken skin sort of like chicharrons -though they taste a bit like the world’s best chicken-flavored potato chips. I have to confess here that once I had mindlessly given my dogs a giant crispy chicken skin, it was Game ON. They now lie in wait, right in front of the oven, when they smell me making more. Sigh. They know.
That’s it. You have stock, tons of chicken, bones and crispy chicken skin for an absurdly low price. If you are like me, you also have saved the chicken fat. I have a container in my freezer labeled, ‘schmaltz’ which is the Yiddish word for rendered chicken or goose fat. I hoard my schmaltz and only my friend Nina can ask me for some. You know, like some people borrow a cup of sugar. Nina can have my chicken fat. That’s true friendship.