Most of you who have followed this blog for a long time know that I always have chickens. I enjoy always having fresh eggs, love that my chickens contribute regularly to not only my gardening and composting endeavors but to my farm table as well. I know that many have chickens and do not eat them. They have names and become family pets. None of my chickens have names and unless I sell them all of my chickens inevitably become dinner at some point. It's just a question of when.
Some are butchered young and put in the freezer. Some like my hens are allowed to reach maturity, lay eggs for several years and maybe even become broody and raise a nest of chicks. But eventually once they quit laying they are eaten allowing younger hens to take their place producing eggs and chicks.
When the older hens are butchered my favorite way to prepare them is in broth and chicken meat and broth.
The hens are cleaned and picked and then placed in a large pot of water along with onions and spices. Then boiled until the meat is cooked.
Then the meat is taken off the bone and put in a container in the fridge. The broth is then put back in the pot with the bones and skin and simmered on low for a couple hours. Then I allow it to cool somewhat and strain the broth through a colander lined with cheese cloth. This strains out any bones, skin or spices. Then I place my strained broth in a large bowl in the fridge overnight. The next morning you can simply take a spoon and strain the hardened chicken fat off the top of the broth.
Then I warm the meat back up and add 2 cups of meat to a quart jar and then add heated broth to cover the meat and fill the jar. Any left over broth is also jarred. De boned chicken must then be pressure canned for 1 hour and 15 minutes. If there is just broth I pressure can for 25 minutes.
Broth can be made from those left over bones from the Thanksgiving turkey or even the leftover bones and skin of that baked chicken you might have had for dinner the night before. They can even be frozen until you get enough to do a big batch for canning.
That thick rich chicken or turkey broth can give great flavor to things like mashed potatoes. And this is one of my go to ingredients for a quick meal. That jar of chicken meat and broth in just a short period of time and with just a few things from my freezer or pantry becomes a nutritious home cooked meal.
Just thickened with flour and the addition of a crust and some vegetables it becomes a chicken pot pie.
With a roux to thicken it and the addition of sausage, okra, onions and spices it becomes chicken and sausage gumbo. Hot rice and corn bread compliments that meal.
And let us not forget the addition of a bag of egg noodles and maybe some onions and flour to thicken the broth and you have a hot lunch or dinner of homemade chicken noodle soup.
And maybe homemade noodles with a thickened broth for a hearty chicken dinner. Some homemade biscuits and a pie to compliment.
So in my opinion this is one of my go to convenience foods. Nutritious, versatile and homegrown.
Blessings from The Holler
The Canned Quilter