I'm convinced that one of the keys to feeding our bodies well
is being prepared. Having some healthy options at the ready in our fridges or freezers, no matter what life's circumstances are
You could be someone who isn't overly hip on cooking, but with a few staples, you're able to assemble a meal instead of cooking it. That might mean tossing together a spinach salad with cucumber, tomatoes, avocado, and poached eggs. Or making an arugula salad with grated carrots, beets, sunflower seeds, and some cut-up rotisserie chicken.
All very quick options, once you've committed to nourishing your body and having the foods available.
Or maybe you're someone who's mastered the rhythm of meal planning and prep; you've got it down, it's going well, the stars are aligned, the birds are singing. That is until
Life happens, you come home tired to chill that's settled into your skin and remained. Hectic work schedules descend, kids with activities that pull you in a million directions, winter days that can make us blue. What remains is exhausted, with little desire to cook.
If you're anything like me during times like this, it's easy to become less-than present when it comes to my eating
Over the past couple of years, I've taken to preparing things ahead, especially protein sources.
It certainly makes life easier, although if I'm not careful, it can also make meals a bit repetitive. Not so with pulled chicken, cooked until tender, and shredded into bite-size pieces. It's incredibly adaptable.
The other beautiful thing, unlike something like a pork shoulder, I'm able to make a batch small enough to eat in a week, without feeding all of our neighbors as well. As a bonus, I love the broth and use it for other purposes
White or dark meat work well, although I give some consideration to meals I might want to make with it. If I'm thinking of cold sandwiches and salads, where the chicken won't be dry from being cooked again, I'll use breasts. Thighs work a little better for warm meals, as they have a bit more fat and stay juicy after reheating.
This weekend, as I was shredding a batch, I thought it might be fun to do a series on some of the different ways it can be used. Look follow-ups over the next few weeks, woven amongst some of the other posts.
However, you choose to use it, know that it's incredibly good.
The tomato paste lends a hint of umami, garlic and bay leaves for a savory backbone, smoked paprika mimics the smokiness of bbq. Just make sure you cook it until the meat is tender enough to pull apart
Slow-Cooker Pulled Chicken
- 1 ½ cups chicken broth
- 3 Tbsp tomato paste
- ½ tsp sweet smoked paprika
- 5 cloves garlic, smashed
- 5 bay leaves
- 5 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or chicken thighs)
- ½ Tbsp kosher salt
- 1 ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- In a medium-sized bowl, whisk the broth with the tomato paste and paprika. Add the garlic and bay leaves.
- Season the chicken with salt and pepper and add it to the slow-cooker
- Add the broth mix, along with the garlic and bay leaves
- Cook on high until the chicken is very tender, about 4 hours for boneless or 6 hours for bone-in, flipping halfway through
- Transfer the chicken to a large cutting board and let cool to room temp (~ 20 minutes). Using two forks, gently shred the chicken into thin strips, discarding any fat, cartilage, and bones as you go.
- Refrigerate the chicken meat and broth separately in airtight containers for up to 5 days (they will also freeze beautifully)