Monday, October 22, 2012

Shredded Chicken for the Freezer

My life has been hectic lately. Crazy, even. As much as I love to cook, I am rarely home to do so, and it makes me long for my stay-at-home-mom days. Honestly, I love having a day to spend in the kitchen. Probably why I love Thanksgiving so much. One day of the year set aside for  cooking more food than a house full of people could consume in one day! Bliss!

With my free time so very limited I've been challenged to find ways to still put home-cooked meals on the table with about 30 minutes to prep. The real challenge has been to find a way to pre-prep the food without losing any of the quality. Some veggies lend themselves well to pre-slicing, some side dishes can be made ahead and warmed, but the real stinker is meat.

I'll admit, I am picky about meat. I like a good cut of meat to begin with, and I can't stand meat that has that 'old' taste to it. Whether it's from sitting in the fridge or from freezer burn...I just can't stomach it. So what's a girl to do when she does not have the time to stop by the market every day to get fresh meat?

I have finally found my answer when it comes to chicken! It's been a lot of trial and error, but I found the method that produces a good post-freezer result.

I started off by getting four good roasting chickens. In the picture below, you'll see all four in one pan, but for roasting, I split them into two pans, so they weren't crowded.

We cooled them completely, and then I set Noelle to work on getting every bit of meat off of them that she could. (She has requested that next time we do two chickens at a time. ;o)

Once she had all the meat off the bone, I started making gravy. Now you could just do chicken broth, and if you're going to use the chicken in something non-gravy based, that's a good option. But for quality purposes, I really prefer the gravy method. Broth freezing was ok, but the meat texture was better with the gravy. (Gravy recipe below.) 

I made enough gravy to just cover the chicken, mixed it up and let it cool down a bit. Then we packaged it up in gallon size freezer bags. (Be sure to label and date your freezer one wants to play the "How Long Has This Been In Here?" guessing game!)

Here's what we use this chicken for, usually in the crock pot.
Chicken and biscuits
Chicken Pot Pie
Chicken Noodle Soup (add more broth) 
Chicken/broccoli/stuffing casserole
Chicken and Mashed potatoes
Chicken Stew (with dumplings, yum!)

Gravy Recipe (May take more than one batch, depending on how much chicken you have)

1/2 C Butter
3 Tbsp bouillon concentrate (Better than Bouillon is my favorite)
1/2 C Flour
2 Quarts water

Melt butter and bouillon, slowly incorporate flour until smooth.
Cook, stirring constantly for about one minute.
While whisking, begin to drizzle in water, pouring slowly until all water is added. 
Continue to whisk til smooth, stir until it starts to thicken.
Remove from heat, and it's ready to use.

Hope this is useful for you. I have been delighted many times to open the freezer and find that my dinner issues were solved because I'd already done the work!

Blessings from my kitchen to yours, 

No comments:

Post a Comment